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10 Questions With Jill Christenholz, Executive director of 5 Arts Circle

Thursday, December 20, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andrea Evans
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1. Why was 5 Arts Circle created?
The idea for 5 Arts Circle came out of the blue … or rather the greens! While founder Howard Hirsch was golfing in 1999, his foursome was comparing the arts in the Valley to those in their respective hometowns. Arts funding was notably lower in Phoenix, so he challenged each to secure private donations for the arts. That’s how 5 Arts Circle was born.

2. How did 5 Arts Circle decide which organizations to support?
The traditionally preeminent arts organizations in the Valley were selected: Ballet Arizona, The Phoenix Symphony, Scottsdale Arts, Arizona Opera and Phoenix Art Museum because they were the leaders in their genres and funding in 1999 was sparse.

3. Why do these arts organizations need support?
They are the cornerstones of art in the Valley, but they lacked support due to our size and maturity. If these organizations are vibrant, they cause a ripple effect that allows the overall art scene to evolve and grow.

4. How has 5 Arts Circle changed since its inception nearly 20 years ago?
In the beginning, the membership base was mostly comprised of snowbirds with second homes in the Valley. Today, 5 Arts membership is comprised of full- and part-time residents. Our event programming has matured from a few events with each of the five arts we support to an Arts & Beyond Series, which provides a wider range of art forms. This provides enhanced social and cultural experiences where established and emerging artists, arts leaders, promoters and enthusiasts all connect, which engages and immerses members in the local arts scene.

5. What’s contributed to 5 Arts Circle’s success?
By supporting five key arts organizations, members enjoy access not available in most other cities. It’s simple: one tax-deductible annual check that benefits the arts. In addition to the simplicity, our members are exposed to the wide variety of artists, art forms and venues that would be difficult for the average person to experience on his or her own. In appreciation, 5 Arts recipients extend to our members automatic inclusion in their equivalent-tier donor circle. Attached to these specific giving levels are a myriad of benefits ranging from invitations to special events, lecture series, advance subscription purchases and mixers with performers. It’s also a highly social group with one common value — the arts.

6. What are some misconceptions the public has about arts funding in Arizona?
One big one is that there is plenty of funding for the arts. This is not the case. The metro area is still young, and we haven’t had the benefit of large corporations and abundant philanthropic families donating to the arts like in other mature cities. 5 Arts is a significant and reliable source of funding for each of the organizations we support. We provide a steady, sustainable and meaningful source of unrestricted funds that our arts recipients rely on year after year. Our contribution to the arts to date is $5 million.

7. What are you most excited about in Arizona’s arts scene right now?
We are maturing as a place and the art scene is evolving as a result. We’re seeing a wider variety and diversity of artists and venues. As we grow, the support for the arts gets stronger and opportunity for new artists increases.

8. What would you like to see more of in Arizona’s arts and culture scene?
For the Phoenix metro area to be a highly sought-after place, it needs a vibrant, well-supported arts and culture framework. We need this to be an interesting and desirable place that keeps highly talented people. Art crosses all barriers of language, class and culture, making a place more resilient. It defines a place and expresses its personality. This builds diversity and makes us sought-after, which is also a desirable economic development characteristic — it’s social and economic. It’s good business and the underpinning of a sustainable community.

9. What are your most important duties as 5 Arts Circle’s executive director?
Besides running the day-to-day operations and overseeing the programming, I’m focused on building community awareness and making 5 Arts become a cultural connector. It involves getting mindshare for arts in general and the value proposition of 5 Arts Circle. Maintaining our high-touch experience for our members and corporate partners is front and center.

10. What’s in store for 5 Arts Circle?
We’re planning some special experiences to celebrate our 20th season. We’ve implemented a new advisory board comprised of local business professionals to help us spread the word about 5 Arts. We’re focused on growth, so we can provide more funding and support for all of the arts in our community. In fact, I invite you and a guest to join us for one of our Arts & Beyond Series events to experience what we’re all about!

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