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Yuma selected to statewide creative commons

The City of Yuma has been awarded a competitive arts award that will bring an investment of between $15,000 and $20,000 and an artist residency program to Yuma.

The Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA), and Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA) announced the communities that will participate in the inaugural AZ Creative Communities Institute (AZCCI). As part of the 12-month AZCCI, small teams representing each community will explore the many ways Arizona’s creativity can be put to work for positive community impact. AZCCI Fellows will become part of an active learning network, with opportunities to learn from and with local and national experts, and peers from other Arizona cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Out of 22 applications, Yuma’s was one of nine selected by the AZCCI.

The minimum $15,000 investment in Yuma will come in the form of cash grants, artist services, and support to participate in the program. That includes travel support for the City’s team, artist stipends and support for a 2018 artist residency.

“Over the next year we will be implementing a community-wide artist residency program as well as traveling the state to visit the other teams sites and assess their programs,” said Lindsay Benacka, Arts and Culture Program Manager for the City of Yuma.

Yuma’s team consists of Benacka; Isaac Russell, from Littlewood Co-op; Maria McKivergan, owner of Desert Counseling; and Cari Jean Nelson, ceramics teacher at Kofa High School.

Across the state, 22 teams composed of local elected officials, civic and business leaders and community organizers applied for the opportunity to participate in the expansive training and engagement program. Yuma joins Barrio Anita (Tucson), Casa Grande, Douglas, Eastlake (Phoenix), Flagstaff, Globe, South Phoenix, and Tempe as one of the nine communities selected.

“We knew there was an appetite for putting creativity to work in Arizona communities, but did not know how strong an appetite it was,” said Jaime Dempsey, Deputy Director of the Arts Commission. “While we sincerely wish we could have accepted all of the applicant communities into the program, we could not be more excited by the depth of knowledge, breadth of experience, and diversity of perspective represented in the selected teams.”

This distinction represents another milestone in the support of the Yuma community toward the arts. “Yuma is fast becoming a force in state arts community,” said Parks and Recreation Director Debbie Wendt.


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