Also good to know is that Art Trails has survived the assault on local arts groups. By “local artists’ groups,” I refer to Art Trails and Heart of Tucson Art (HotArt). The assault has come from arts administrators in SAACA (Southern Arizona Arts and Culture Alliance) and Arts Foundation of Tucson and Southern Arizona. Despite a clear promise to support these groups, SAACA instead demanded obsequious compliance and when SAACA didn’t get this compliance in the fall of 2016, SAACA set up its own fall studio tour. Rather that support, SAACA completely undermined Art Trails and HotArt.
1. SAACA created a two weekend tour but stupidly divided the city into two parts: a northern, less populated part, and a southern highly-populated area in which both downtown and mid-town artists are lumped into one tour. To add insult to injury, SAACA extended the tour to all of southern Arizona (Bisbee and Tubac included!). Obviously there are too many studios to visit in this second weekend tour. In response, tour visitors go to clusters of studios where they can see as many studios as possible in a smaller area. This mainly means downtown. So mid-town artists got screwed despite paying the same fees as all other artists. That’s why a division north to south, not east to west, is needed. Art Trails takes the west and HotArt is in the east and mid-town.
2. Tour materials produced by SAACA are decidedly inferior. Last fall (2018), SAACA produced a map and guide to studios with no images of artwork and in print so tiny that a magnifying glass was needed to read it. Both Art Trails and HoT Art produced far better, colorful guides and maps. Unfortunately, we won’t see any decent fall tour guides and maps anymore because SAACA has completely taken control over the fall studio tour now. Art Trails and HotArt have been pushed out.
3. Ominously, Arts Foundation sent out a survey to artists asking them how much they’d be willing to pay to participate in the fall studio tour. The survey listed several levels of payment at more and more expensive levels. What the artists would get for all this money was not made clear at all. I won’t be a bit surprised to see artists being forced to pay higher and higher participation fees for various services of dubious quality.
5. The arts administrators don’t get what the purpose of a studio tour is. The purpose is to make it possible for artists to get as many visitors to their studios as possible. The purpose is not to brag to your fellow arts administrators that you signed up more artists than ever. It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.
I wish the best of luck to Art Trails artists and also to Hot Art artists for its spring tour. You will need it.