Arizona ArtBeat: Governor’s Arts Awards

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Rusty Foley, interim executive director of Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts, shares the results of the 30th annual Governor’s Arts Awards taking place April 12th at the Herberger Theater.

Ted Simons: Tonight's "Arizona Artbeat" makes a stop at the Herberger Theater in Phoenix where artists and supporters of the arts were honored this week during the 30th governor's arts awards.

Ted Simons: The governor's arts awards is a major fundraiser for Arizona citizens action for the arts. Joining me is the group's executive director, Rusty Foley. Nice to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Rusty Foley: Thank you for having us.

Ted Simons: What is recognized at this particular awards ceremony?

Rusty Foley: This awards ceremony recognizes excellence in the arts, the individuals, the artists who create the art, that's so special for Arizona, and individuals who are supportive of the arts either through their own involvement in arts organizations, philanthropy or advocate for the arts.

Rusty Foley: As I say, we just celebrated the 30th anniversary and we like to think of it as celebrating 30 years of excellence in the arts.

Ted Simons: Excellence indeed. The artist award went to a Martin Moreno. Talk to us about his art.

Rusty Foley: Wonderful expansive murals in a Latino style. Evocative of all kinds of religious and southwestern theme, a remarkable individual who not only creates wonderful art but is a humanitarian and works with young people in the inner-city schools and - and has just achieved wonderful things for the community through his work.

Ted Simons: And it has to be more than just Mr. Moreno doing art that you go, "oh hey, that looks good." There has to be an underlying factor, correct?

Rusty Foley: Absolutely, you can see it in the beauty of the work and the themes of the work. Really, as I say, really, I think he really captures what the southwest is about. And the culture of our community here.

Ted Simons: And we're seeing some of his work right now. Where are these located? Around town?

Rusty Foley: These pieces are really all over the state and all over the valley. Martine, himself, is from Laveen, but you can see this work in Tucson and in Laveen and in downtown Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Other honorees, free arts for abused children. This is a tremendous, tremendous program.

Rusty Foley: Indeed.

Ted Simons: Give us a brief overview.

Rusty Foley: Free arts is really a combination of a social service agency and an arts agency. They use art and art therapy with the children who come from abusive situations, who are perhaps somehow damaged in a way and the art becomes a creative outlet for them to heal themselves and to address the issues they may have in their lives and they've reached thousands and thousands of children since their formation in 1993.

Ted Simons: Fantastic program. Tonto Community Concert Association-- Cox communication of southern Arizona, some other folks as well, but winners got awards but these awards were designed by Arizona artists, correct?

Rusty Foley: Yes, that's a tradition of the governor's arts awards. Every winner receives an original piece of art created by an Arizona artist and typically every year we adopt a theme. So this year, all of the artists represented were ceramics and stoneware artists.

Ted Simons: We're looking at some of the awards right now. This is a tradition, huh?

Rusty Foley: Yes.

Ted Simons: Arizona artists get to honor their own with their own.

Rusty Foley: Exactly, that's part. The reason for the governor's arts awards is to celebrate the individuals who create art and support art but also to deliver the message to the community what an incredible value and contribution the arts are to community life here in Arizona. We're trying to send a message too, with this.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, sending a message in these times must be difficult. Talk about the economic climate and what's going on out there in the arts.

Rusty Foley: Times are tough. Times are tough. Arts organizations are experiencing diminished contributions from individuals and corporations and foundations but really what's been devastating is the reduction in public funding for the arts and that's the reason why Arizona citizens action was formed 30 years ago was to support and advocate for public funding for the arts. Unfortunately, we've lost most of the gains we made, certainly in the last 10 years with the budget cutbacks that the Arizona commission for the arts have experienced for the last four years so that our job is really cut out for us going forward. We have to rebuild a coalition of community people, business people, educators, all of us who value the contribution that the arts make to business and -- and -- in our communities. And get that support back.

Ted Simons: Well, good luck with that effort. Congratulations on the 30th awards ceremony. Thank you so much for being here.

Rusty Foley: Thank you, Ted.

Rusty Foley:Interim Executive Director, Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts;

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