Representation and recognition in the arts community was falling short, so the Tempe Arts Committee decided to take matters into their own hands. The group is currently in the process of introducing a Tempe Arts Award that will celebrate a variety of artistic contributions in a community where artistic appreciation is scarce.
In Arizona, Tempe is one of the only cities that doesn’t offer an award to recognize local artists. In fact, the City of Phoenix has presented an arts award since 2012, the City of Yuma since 2001, and the City of Glendale has an arts award dedicated to celebrating the student artists in the area, according to their city websites.
Cities all around the valley honor and encourage their neighborhood artists, and within the next of couple of months, Tempe residents will get to experience that as well.
Dates are not set in stone, but the committee hopes to start the nomination process in November and present the awards in April of 2019. Until then, the artists in Tempe will continue to struggle to gain appreciation from the rest of the community.
“I just feel like there aren’t a lot of opportunities for artists in Tempe,” Jordan Litzinger, a senior in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, said. Litzinger’s major is drawing, but up until this year, her work only made it as far as the actual school. “I’ve been going here for awhile and I just had my first opportunity to have a piece up not in the art building on campus,” Litzinger said.
Many of the Tempe Arts committee members agreed that artists don’t feel encouraged to express themselves within the community. “I like to paint walls, right? Nowhere in my community does anyone support it. My daughter shares the same interest. Let’s face it, we are a generation that does not encourage arts for our children,” Anthony Johnson, a Tempe Arts committee member, said.
Tempe artists often find themselves in the vicious cycle of: create art, go unnoticed, become discouraged.
Jill Naffziger, a local singer songwriter, started performing when she was in elementary school. According to Naffziger, her first real performance was singing the Star-Spangled Banner solo on opening night for a little league softball game. “I felt proud of myself for the first time, I felt really special,” Naffziger said. From there, she fell in love with the art of singing and songwriting, which led to her starring in her own music video, and recording an album.
Although, getting recognized hasn’t been easy for the young artist. “It has always been a struggle for me to not only market myself, but also show my actual talents,” Naffziger said. According to Naffziger, her previous manager and her were not always on the same page about the future of her music career.
Naffziger is looking to participate and grow as an artist during her time at ASU, by joining a singing club. An arts award could provide this local performer the opportunity to shine in and outside of Tempe. Artists in similar situations as Naffziger constantly have to fight for any attention in Tempe.
History can prove that countless, talented artists go unnoticed for their work until it is too late. For example, the world-renowned Vincent Van Gogh only sold 1 painting before his death, now his remaining pieces sell for millions and are displayed in museums across the world.
If the Tempe community and arts committee keep their eyes open, there could be another Van Gogh walking the streets of Tempe! Although Tempe is currently in a shortage of local artistic recognition, the committee is taking steps forward.
To experience Jill Naffziger’s music, her YouTube videos are linked here. Her album, Rush, can be found on Apple Music.