DATE: May 22, 2012
CONTACT: Maribel Alvarez (520) 861-4615
Tucson Meet Yourself Awarded Federal Funds to Support Traditional Arts and Named Official Folk Arts Partner Agency for the State of Arizona
Grants part of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announcement of 928 awards and $77.17 million in funding nationwide
Thirty nine years of passionate and persistent work on behalf of the diverse ethnic, occupational, and folk communities that call the Sonoran Desert home is about to pay off for the beloved, and until recently, consistently fledging folklore organization Tucson Meet Yourself.
Founded in 1974 by UA folklore professor and renowned author and public figure James “Big Jim” Griffith, Tucson Meet Yourself has been a fixture in the cultural landscape of Southern Arizona, documenting and presenting the arts of both newcomers and long-term residents of these borderlands and organizing on a shoestring one of the best attended (100,000 + people) and iconic festivals in the region.
Two years ago, the organization underwent a major transformation that doubled the footprint of the festival in downtown Tucson to more than 60 acres, increased visibility, hired staff, and presented more folk artists than ever before. The huge leap was financed with support from local companies, sponsors, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Pima County, and individual donors. Now the federal government has stepped in with an infusion of cash and validation that will extend the reach of the Tucson-based (and namesake) nonprofit to a statewide scope and year-round programs.
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has approved two grants totaling $65,000 for Tucson Meet Yourself for 2012. Tucson Meet Yourself was recommended for a $30,000 grant to support the TMY Folklife Festival October 12-14, 2012 and a second grant for $35,000 to support statewide projects intended to strengthen folk and traditional arts across the state in collaboration with Arizona Commission on the Arts.
National Endowment for the Arts grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement, lifelong learning, and the
strengthening of communities through the arts. NEA grants are largely considered in the arts community a “good housekeeping” seal because of the stringent panel review process that precedes any award.
Tucson Meet Yourself is dedicated to research, document, interpret and present the living traditional arts and expressions of everyday life of the multi-national Arizona-Sonora region. The annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival attracts over 100,000 people to downtown Tucson to celebrate and share the traditional food, music, folk arts, dance and cultural expressions of over 65 different ethnic and folk communities in Southern Arizona and in the state of Sonora, Mexico. New year-round programs include a Folklife Field School and the creation of a Southwest Folklore Digital Archive.
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “The arts should be a part of everyday life. Whether it’s seeing a performance, visiting a gallery, participating in an art class, or simply taking a walk around a neighborhood enhanced by public art, these grants are ensuring that across the nation, the public is able to experience how art works.”
Dr. Maribel Alvarez, TMY Program Director and Folklorist at the University of Arizona Southwest Center said, “This is a game-changers for Tucson Meet Yourself. This establishes our role as the State’s premier folklife organization. One of the first things we’ll do as the designated statewide folk arts agency is to conduct an inventory of all ethnic, tribal, occupational, and folk arts projects currently operating in the state. From Yuma to Phoenix and Flagstaff, we stand to gain a deeper understanding of how Arizona has always been and is still today, in fact, many diverse Arizonas rooted in a common vision of humanity despite the cultural differences.”
James “Big Jim’ Griffith, founder of TMY said, “This is just great! Anytime we get to shine the light on the artfulness, resiliency, and dignity of the “folk,” –the working people who find beauty in ordinary things—we expand our minds and hearts.” Jim Griffith was named the 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellow.
In this round of funding, a total of 10 grants were awarded to Arizona organizations, totaling $1,117,200.
For a complete listing of projects recommended and additional information, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.