Flagstaff Arts Council Explores Partnership with ArtWins Arizona for 2023 Festival
Seeks public input on festival that aims for significant investment in arts and culture

Flagstaff, AZ – April 20, 2021 – Flagstaff Arts Council, the city’s art, science, and cultural agency, announced on Tuesday that it began talks with ArtWins Arizona to establish a major arts and cultural festival in Flagstaff to tentatively launch in 2023. FAC is seeking public input on the idea. To learn more and provide feedback, visit: flagartscouncil.org/festival

Drawing inspiration from the acclaimed ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, International Arts & Ideas Festival in New Haven, Connecticut, Aspen Ideas Festival, and more, the festival is proposed to be anchored by both an art competition and a speaker series. The ArtWins Arizona competition is proposed to award more than $300,000 in prizes and grants including $50,000 grand prizes. Depending on funder interest, prize values could be even higher. The festival will provide a regional and national platform for local artists, creatives, and thinkers as well as attract global participation.

Since 2019, a diverse group of nonprofit art, science, and culture stakeholders and nonprofits, led by Chris Verrill, Executive Director of Theatrikos Theatre Company, met to identify a signature event that energizes Flagstaff’s creative and collaborative spirit. Initially conceived as a festival showcasing Flagstaff’s performing and visual arts community, it was adopted in 2020 by Flagstaff Arts Council, the City’s cultural agency, to expand the event defining Flagstaff as one of the Southwest’s most creative cities.

“Our ambition is to grow all the arts in Flagstaff. Not just grow the arts, but grow the city’s economy,” Chris Verrill, Festival Committee Chair, stated. “Our LOI with ArtWins partners their expertise and resources with our talent and collaborative spirit to do just that.”

In 2020, ArtWins Arizona approached Flagstaff Arts Council and the City’s Beautification and Public Art Commission for Flagstaff to be its chosen home for an international art competition based on ArtPrize Grand Rapids. FAC’s board of directors and the festival committee have been evaluating whether a major art competition is the best format for the future festival.

ArtWins Arizona is a group of Arizona arts leaders, as well as former employees of ArtPrize Grand Rapids.  The ArtWins Arizona team has been working to create and deliver a major festival in Arizona, drawing inspiration from their experiences with ArtPrize.

“The more we investigated ArtPrize Grand Rapids and learned what ArtWins Arizona was looking to accomplish, the more we were excited to try something similar and work with ArtWins,” said FAC Executive Director Jonathan Stone. “Over the past 10 years, Grand Rapids, Michigan has been transformed by art and creative experiences. Its local arts community has been strengthened and has grown. While Flagstaff isn’t Grand Rapids, we embrace their values of celebrating artists, prize as a catalyst, transforming urban spaces, providing an educational experience, challenging everyone, generating conversation, promoting social good, and more. By collaborating with ArtWins Arizona, we are able to access expertise and ensure that Flagstaff is the home of Arizona’s next major cultural event.”

Flagstaff Arts Council’s Board of Directors voted at the end of March to sign a Letter of Intent with ArtWins Arizona. That letter details a series of goals for a potential partnership that ensure the event will be community driven. The two organizations will decide by November if they will sign a more formal agreement, potentially after sending a delegation to Michigan to experience ArtPrize Grand Rapids in person in September.

“We are impressed with the growing energy to establish an arts and ideas festival in Flagstaff,” said ArtWins Arizona Executive Director, Dan Packard. “Independently, both of our organizations have been exploring how a festival can catalyze the economy and elevate Arizona artists and creators on a national stage. While ArtWins is interested in elevating all of Arizona, we especially want to impact our host city.  We believe there is tremendous synergy with Flagstaff’s spectacular natural setting, walkability and transit, vibrant arts community, and centers of thought leadership like NAU and Lowell Observatory. Together, we have the recipe to create a transformative opportunity for Flagstaff and Arizona.”

Jonathan Stone added, “There are a lot of details to explore including: How big do we think this event is? Is there sufficient funder interest? Will the business community get excited to participate? How do we ensure a diversity of local voices and perspectives are represented? Our initial outreach suggests this is a great direction for Flagstaff. We are at a point now that we need broader community input.”

About Flagstaff Arts Council

Flagstaff Arts Council a volunteer-driven nonprofit and is the official art, science, and culture agency of Flagstaff. Its mission is to foster creative opportunity. It is leading community-wide efforts to build resilience, outreach, engagement, and a sense of identity for Flagstaff’s creative sectors. It is most known for operation of Coconino Center for the Arts, the Viola Awards, First Friday ArtWalk, and the Art & Science Fund grant program which awards nearly $400,000 annually to local nonprofits.

About ArtWins Arizona

ArtWins Arizona is an Arizona-based nonprofit organization.  It was established to elevate Arizona as a national leader in the arts by partnering with an Arizona community to produce high-profile publicly-driven art experiences that invest in artists, engage a broad and diverse audience, celebrate and build community, and advance economic development in our host community and the state.

Media contacts: