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Phoenix's Roosevelt Row: Future Of Arts District Survey Garners Key Takeaways

Roosevelt Row in Phoenix is likely one of the first areas in the city that pops into people’s minds when they think about arts in the Valley.  

In April, the district’s Community Development Corporation conducted a survey to, “collect data from residents, visitors, artists, and business owners about how they patronize the district, what they like, what could be improved and how they stay connected to it,” according to Nicole Underwood, director of community engagement for Roosevelt Row . 

The survey was conducted with the idea that artists are the focal point that makes the district such a vibrant attraction.

"The key takeaway is there’s opportunities and avenues for more collaborations with business owners and artists or artists and artists to really strengthen and grow what makes this place so special," said Underwood. 

Dovetailing off that idea, Underwood told KJZZ that takeaway suggested the need to create more collaborative opportunities with businesses beyond just offering wall space for artists to hang work, for instance. "There’s performance artists that have needs — dancers, spoken word artists, musicians. How can they have more of a prominent opportunity with businesses owners or with spaces to perform that can really help keep people coming back and make this arts district a sustainable place"     

Underwood said the survey garnered about 1,000 responses and those will be integral to shaping a master plan for artistic engagement, collaboration and commerce that will be released this fall.

In the meantime, the lot adjacent to the Roosevelt Row Welcome Center continues to house " UNCONTAINED" — a quarterly mural project collaboration with Roosevelt Row CDC, IndigeCollabDesign and Xico Arte y Cultura. 

The second artist, Danny Upshaw, has a wheat paste mural entitled, "Uncontained Harmony," that draws inspiration from traditional Native American dance.

Upshaw said, "The Fancy Dance (Men) and Fancy Shawl Dance (Women) is said to imitate the graceful movement of a butterfly moving across the grass. In 1883, the United States government banned Native American dances as they thought it would stimulate warlike passions. Even when the ban was in effect, the dances were still practiced and today the harmonious dances and songs cannot be contained. Through my work, I want to bring my Indigenous culture to the urban setting."

According to Upshaw, "Desirae Redhouse is an Arizona dancer from the Diné (Navajo Nation) and has performed in numerous Pow Wows. She still practices the Fancy Shawl dance and is an advocate for sharing Native American culture through her dancing."

Unfortunately, Upshaw had a bike accident at the end of March and suffered a fractured skull and concussion. "The doctors said not to do any strenuous activities and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to put up my photo paste in time. But, friends of mine  rallied together and helped with all the heavy lifting and we put the photo up in a couple of hours."

Tom Maxedon is the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition on Saturday and Sunday from 6-10 a.m. and All Things Considered on Monday from 3-6 p.m.