Flagstaff Arts Council Executive Director, John Tannous, hit a career milestone on March 27, 2017, reaching his 10-year anniversary with the non-profit organization. Tannous, who is known as ‘JT’ by many in the community, has been a driving force for the arts in Flagstaff.
During his tenure, the organization has grown steadily in fundraising, employment and programming. The Arts Council’s core operating budget has doubled since Tannous was brought on as ED, and the organization has raised over one million dollars in sponsor and grant funding in that time. In 2007, the organization operated under the name, Flagstaff Cultural Partners, and in 2014 JT led the process of re-branding to the Flagstaff Arts Council.
The Arts Council has also successfully renewed its contract with the City of Flagstaff twice (2012 and 2017), to oversee the grant making for the non-profit arts and sciences in Flagstaff.
“JT is extremely gifted in making connections, and building collaborations and partnerships.” Holly Taylor, President of the Arts Council Board of Directors.
“I am continually impressed with JT’s determination to foster the arts in Flagstaff. He never rests. There is always a new initiative and he makes arts happen. His behind the scenes encouragement of individuals and organizations engaged in the arts may be even more important.” Jean Hockman, Past President of the Arts Council Board of Directors.
When he was first hired ten years ago, Tannous was the only full-time employee at the Arts Council, supported by two part time positions and volunteers. The Arts Council now employs a professional staff with four full-time and three part-time positions.
Since 2007, Tannous has expanded the Arts Council’s programming to include First Friday ArtWalk and a healthy slate of concerts at the Coconino Center for the Arts. The organization developed new programs such as Flagstaff365.com, the ArtBox Institute, the Navajo Rug Auction, art and theater workshops, and the Downtown Friday Nights Series. He led the publication of Flagstaff’s first ever Economic Impact Study of the entire non-profit arts and sciences sector (including NAU). The Viola Awards, which will also celebrate its ten year anniversary next year, has become Flagstaff’s can’t-miss premier annual arts event, celebrating the work of artists, educators and those in the arts and sciences.
The Arts Council manages the Coconino Center for the Arts, which offers incredible exhibitions to tourists and locals alike, free of charge. Under Tannous’ leadership, recent exhibitions have broken boundaries between the arts and sciences, raised the bar for regional artists and created huge impact in the cultural landscape of Flagstaff. Specifically, Beyond the Border (2012) which intimately explored the devastation of culture, family and the environment due to US-Mexico border conflict, as well as Fires of Change (2016), which presented scientific information through site-specific artwork focused on the repercussions of mismanaged fire practices on our landscape. This fall, Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land will focus on the overwhelming human and environmental health crisis on Navajo lands due to uranium mining.
“JT’s leadership and vision has made an extraordinary impact in the arts in Flagstaff,” said Elizabeth Vogler, Deputy Director. “The Arts Council and programming in the arts and culture sector would not have seen the growth that it has in the last decade without JT’s efforts.”
Tannous oversees a strong staff with a great deal of experience and expertise in the arts. In addition to his ten years at the Arts Council and twenty years in the arts, Deputy Director Elizabeth Vogler has a decade of experience in the arts and culture industry, working at both the Arts Council and The Arboretum at Flagstaff. Marketing Director Sarah Smallwood returned to the Arts Council in 2016 after honing skills in marketing in design with Flagstaff Cultural Partners and The Orpheum Theater. Artistic Director Travis Iurato brings a bi-coastal arts perspective, Kris Kosola has been leading theatrical productions for many years, and both Mario Samano and Margaret Langworthy have been with the Arts Council for several years.