VisitTucson.org and the Arts Community
VisitTucson.org and the Arts Community
VisitTucson.org is a multifaceted tourism-industry organization that is dedicated to bringing visitors to Tucson to enjoy our many attractions. We have a lot of attractions: the gem show, the Desert Museum, hiking and biking trails, sports, music and film, events of all kinds, and arts of all kinds. When I received an email invitation to attend a Special Orientation for the Arts Community on Sept. 10, I decided to go.
Tourism is a good idea, and I am a strong supporter of connecting the arts community to the tourism industry. Tourism is a lot more environmentally friendly than smoke-belching, toxic waste-producing industries. I very much like the idea of a lot of happy people on vacation coming here, having fun, spending money on restaurants, hotels, outdoor activities, performances, and art. Yes, we want the tourists to take some Tucson art home with them. As long as tourists will help us conserve water, then they and their dollars are very welcome.
We Need Stories. We Need You to Show Up
Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of VisitTucson, opened the program with some compelling comments. He made clear, “We want to make sure that arts and culture are a part of what we are doing.” He asked us for stories and pictures and videos about and by artists that VisitTucson can be used in VisitTucson marketing materials. J. Felipe Garcia, Executive Vice President charged with encouraging Mexican tourists to visit Tucson, asked us in the arts community to “show up.” He argued that VisitTucson has built the infrastructure but needs more input from artists.
The main part of the presentation was information about the tourism industry and Tucson’s place in it, as well as detailed information on VisitTucson’s marketing plan on how to increase our visibility among potential tourists. We learned that Tucson is being promoted as a place to “Free Yourself.” One aspect of Tucson’s appeal according to the marketing plan is that we are “A Little Out There.” I think that’s where we artists come in. “A Little Out There” translates to Tucson as very creative, a little funky, and definitely cool. More about the marketing plan is available on VisitTucson’s website (www.VisitTucson.org )
It was clear that we in the arts community were being asked to participate – to “show up.” But it wasn’t clear just how we could do that.
So I followed up after the meeting. The result was some meaningful and productive exchanges with Brent DeRaad and with Vicki Doyle, Vice President of Community Relations and Visitor Services. I asked them pointedly, “Mr. DeRaad said he needs "stories" about artists, and Mr. Garcia asked us to "show up" and participate. My question is if I or one of the many artists I know has a story to tell (and we all do), and if we artists want to show up, how do we do that?”
How We Artists Can Participate
This is how they responded. We artists have been invited to participate in the following ways:
- email VisitTucson with announcements of upcoming art events which will go on the VisitTucson website calendar
- get on the VisitTucson email list and attend monthly lunches and educational sessions
- send to VisitTucson those “stories” Brent DeRaad mentioned. These can be “photos, stories and videos that we can use in our marketing efforts,” said Ms. Doyle. “Stories” in this context can be defined as press releases, artist profiles and features about art events and about artists.
- Brent DeRaad has some great ideas about producing brief videos featuring artists and arts events. We look forward to hearing more about that.
I think most of the artists I know will agree that having our work shown in multiple venues as an enticement to come to Tucson is a good deal for us. People around the world will get to see our art and know us, it won’t cost us anything to participate, and who knows? Maybe if the tourists actually do come to the Old Pueblo, we’ll get a chance to show them what we can do.
One last word: Allison Cooper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for VisitTucson.org, came out with my favorite quote about Tucson at the meeting. She said, “We’re not an industrialized economy. We’re an economy of connections.” And isn’t that so?
Here’s your chance, fellow artists, to connect to the tourism industry and help build our local economy through engagement with the arts. It’s time to show up.
Vicki Doyle, vdoyle@visitTucson.org
Allison Cooper acooper@visitTucson.org
And as always, I welcome your comments. Send them to editor@SonoranArtsNetwork.net