On April 25, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced an award of $60,000 to a regional arts project led by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD) in collaboration with three other southwest arts agencies. Partners include the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department, the Tucson/Pima Arts Council and the City of Mesa Department of Arts & Culture. The award is among the first the NEA has made to a multi-city partnership.
The project will involve selection of a lead artist to work with artists and community members in each city to create an art installation based on the idea of plazitas, traditional open-air plaza that have functioned for centuries as shared cultural, communication and gathering places in the southwest.
The project is the first part of a regional consortium initiated by leadership at these four southwestern arts agencies during conversations about shared challenges, culture and landscape and the desire to foster cultural exchange and opportunities for local artists. National arts policy organization Americans for the Arts was instrumental in helping to facilitate early dialogue among partners.
The project, with a total budget of $135,000, will begin with an open call for lead artist in August.