Arizona Art Tank: an Innovative Program Supporting Innovative Ventures

The president of a small company takes the stage. She pitches her latest venture to a live audience and a panel of expert judges. She’s one of ten entrepreneurs pitching at tonight’s event and the competition is incredibly fierce. At the end of the evening, the panel ranks her venture above the rest and awards her company $10,000 in seed funding.

In this decade of entrepreneurship and venture capital, public “fast-pitch” competitions like the one described above are nothing new. This one, however, is a little different from the norm: the small company isn’t some Silicon Valley start-up, it’s a non-profit arts organization, and the seed-funding isn’t coming from a venture capitalist, it’s coming from the state of Arizona.

Arizona Art Tank is an innovative new funding initiative designed by the Arizona Commission on the Arts to make strategic investments in Arizona’s most promising and daring arts ventures. At public events to be held statewide, top applicants will be given six minutes each to pitch an arts-based venture to an expert panel and a live audience. At the end of the evening, the panel will award the four top-scoring applicants with seed-funding of between $4,000 and $10,000.

“Arts funding is not as easy to come by as it used to be,” says Arts Commission Executive Director Robert Booker. “As arts funding models have shifted and new modes of production, distribution, and sale have emerged, artists and arts organizations have increasingly adopted the methods of the entrepreneur. We felt it was a good time to reflect that shift and try something a little different.”

In a traditional grants process, applicants are represented only by their written applications and relevant work samples. Though review panel meetings are often open to the public, they are generally formal, daytime affairs that attract little audience. Arizona Art Tank allows artists and arts organizations a rare opportunity to pitch their proposals directly to the review panel and invites the public to witness and actively participate in the process. At each event, the audience will award, by popular vote, a separate $500 grant to their favorite venture.

“We hope that those who attend Art Tank events will leave feeling more invested in and excited about their local arts scene,” says Booker. “Artists and arts organizations make significant contributions to their communities, culturally, socially, and economically. An investment in the arts is an investment in the community.”

Arizona Art Tank events will be happening through out the state over the next seven days. Visit our Arizona Art Tank page for dates, times, and locations.