Mayor George Miller


a Program of the Tucson-Pima Arts Council

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.ArtWORKS! provides lower-income high school youth with a grounding in business entrepreneurship through the arts, opportunities to develop marketable skills in the arts, as well as financial and technical support for post-high school education in an after-school and summer program.


  • to offer incentives for youth to remain in school and maintain a successful grade point average;
  • to provide youth with training in job skills in the arts that are marketable in the community;
  • to offer small business experiences in marketing, customer relations and finances;
  • to create a safe after-school environment for high school youth.

ArtWORKS! at Toole is an inner-city program for high school youth from eight surrounding neighborhoods housed at 35 East Toole. The work site provides a "safe haven" for youth who live in high stress inner-city neighborhoods that have a high prevalence of gangs, school drop-out rates, criminal and drug activity. Recruited as freshmen or sophomores, a goal of the program is to build a positive foundation for youth through their high school years. Youth enter at a training level learning the skills of design, manufacturing and installation of custom handmade tile. After the initial training, youth develop business plans and contract with custom home builders to provide custom designed tile for interior and exterior surfaces. Fifty percent of the income is commission for youth working on the project and fifty percent returns to support the program.

ArtWORKS! Painted Furniture, on the far east side of Tucson, is a program for high school youth recruited to design custom painted furniture working out of a storefront in a vacant strip mall. The work site includes a gallery-showroom and a retail space and is also considered as an arts incubator to stimulate revitalization of the area. Once accepted to the program, youth recruited as freshmen and sophomores, must commit to achieve long-term goals that include grade point average and graduation from high school. Over their high school career, youth earn small educational incentives based on skill attainment and hours of training and fifty percent of the sale of any item they are commissioned to design and paint, with the other fifty percent returning to support the program.

2. When was the program created and why?

ArtWORKS at Toole program of tile design, manufacturing and installation began in the 1996 summer, and moved into 35 East Toole after extensive renovation of the building that had been vacant for five years. Funded by a City of Tucson CDBG grant, three youth programs now share this 15,000 sf building that is in the downtown warehouse district. The program was created to extend successful seven week summer projects year around and to provide skills, income to youth from high stress adjoining neighborhoods with from 35-50% school drop out rates.

ArtWORKS - Painted Furniture began in 1996, with the desire to provide a program similar to Toole to youth on the far east side of the community. In this part of town there are many vacant stores and strip malls. Youth are middle to low income, but be identified as "at-risk" in terms of drug abuse, teen age pregnancy, and vandalism. This provided a positive after-school program

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

Both after-school and summer programs will be evaluated by identifying the number of youth in the program that graduate from high school. We want to demonstrate a high percentage of graduation and enrollment in post high school education by the participants. Revitalization of the area adjoining each site will demonstrate the effectiveness of these youth arts programs as generators. Summer programs provided hourly minimum wage, and these programs provide income based on production of the youth in the program identifying another source of revenue for after-school youth.

4. How is the program financed?

The City of Tucson has provided funding for both programs. In addition, through action by the state legislature, the Toole building, owned by the Arizona Department of Transportation, is provided rent free. Other support includes foundations (Stocker, Wallace, and Behar) and a grant from the Governorís Office of Drug Prevention. Earned income is a major support of both these programs. It provides the income for youth in the program and support for the program.

5. Is the community involved in the program?

The eight neighborhoods surrounding Toole recommend teen residents for the program. The tile produced by youth in ArtWORKS at Toole was commissioned for the entry to the East Side City Hall as well as by home builders. School counselors in high schools work with the program providing additional resources needed by youth in the program.

6. What are the major lessons learned from this program?

It will take one to two years for the program to become known to teens and to develop a waiting list of youth for the program. Strong policies and procedures need to be in place for realistic expectations.

7. Contact person:

Dian Magie, Executive Director, Tucson-Pima Arts Council

240 North Stone

Tucson, Arizona 85701

(520) 624-0595 ext. 11, FAX (520) 624-3001

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