The role of the performing arts in postwar Phoenix, Arizona: patrons, performers, and the public

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Civic leadership in Phoenix, Arizona promoted the city's performing arts as part of a deliberate plan towards the larger growth agenda after World War II. From the 1940s through the

Civic leadership in Phoenix, Arizona promoted the city's performing arts as part of a deliberate plan towards the larger growth agenda after World War II. From the 1940s through the late 1960s, the business and professional leaders who controlled city government served on boards for performing arts groups, built venues, offered financial support, and sometimes participated as artists in order to attract high-technology firms and highly skilled workers to the area. They believed one aspect of Phoenix's urban development included a need for quality, high-culture performing arts scene that signaled a high quality of life and drew more residents. After this era of boosterism ended and control shifted from business and professional leaders to city government, performing arts support fluctuated with leadership's attitudes and the local, state, and national economies. The early civic leaders were successful in their overall mission to expand the city - now the sixth largest in the nation - and many of the organizations and venues they patronized still serve the community; however, the commitment to developing a quality arts and culture scene waned. Today's public, private, and arts and culture leaders are using the same argument as Phoenix tries once again to become a high-technology center. The theory that arts and culture stimulate the economy directly and indirectly is true today as it was in the 1940s. Although the plan was effective, it needed fully committed supporters, strong infrastructure, and continued revising in order to move the vision into the twenty-first century.