September 11 2012

Tucson, Arizona: A Leading Arts Community

At the corner of 6th Avenue and Toole Avenue in Tucson, Arizona, you can find a 20-foot high kinetic sculpture, which is a butterfly with a 6 ½-foot wingspan. This fancy public art, created by Bevel Butterfly Company, is a highlight of the Tucson Warehouse Art District; it is a newly completed, two-month old, installation.

Artist Ned Schaper and Dave Dohrmann with the Bevel Butterfly Sculpture

Artist Ned Schaper and Dave Dohrmann with the Bevel Butterfly Sculpture

In the early 1990′s, the Wall Street Journal described Tucson as “a mini-Mecca of the arts in a regional renaissance.” It sounds a little bit exaggerated. However, after studying all the professional operas, galleries, and museums in Tucson, you too would be impressed by Tucson’s rich cultural heritage. The Warehouse Art District, transformed from an old industrial area, is now a visitor attraction. The art district occupies an area of about 70 blocks, including about 35 restaurants, 14 bars and clubs, 6 hotels and lodging, 10 attractions, and 15 shops and stores. WAMO (Warehouse Arts Management Organization) is the group which plans the district’s current and future uses.

Artists are working at Tucson’s Art District

Artists are working at Tucson’s Art District

Why does a city need the arts? It is well known that the arts contribute to the creativity and innovation of the region. But do you know the presence of arts also enhances property values, increases the profits of surrounding businesses, and increases the tax base? According to Americans for the Arts, four years after establishing the Art District in Tucson, the district’s retail vacancy rate declined by 50%, and the city sales tax revenues increased 11.7%, compared with a citywide increase of 7.4%. These measurable impacts, from the art district, are a strong measure of support for Tucson to continue developing the arts and cultural sector.
Nowadays, many art districts can be found in the United States. They boost urban revitalization in many ways, and are regionally beneficial.

These benefits include:

  • Adding beauty and animation to the cities;
  • Developing a creative and innovative environment;
  • Increasing employment opportunities;
  • Promoting tourism;
  • Complementing adjacent businesses;
  • Increasing property values;
  • Enlarging the tax base.

Which, of these reasons, is the best reason for you to support art districts?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Wanyi Song

Wanyi Song is a graduate research assistant of the University of Arizona in Science of Planning. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Architecture when she was living in Southern China. After her undergraduate studies, Wanyi worked full-time as a Landscape Designer in China and Singapore. Her interests range from environmental science and GIS technology to architecture and urban design. She enjoys participating in sustainable development projects which integrate green techniques and a sense of aesthetics, to create livable communities as well as to mitigate natural resources conflicts.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 at 5:49 pm and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environmental Non-Profit, History/Preservation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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