Tucson Arts Brigade Stays Strong

The mural on the side of the Woods Memorial Library that members of the Tucson Arts Brigade painted last Spring. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)
The mural on the side of the Woods Memorial Library that members of the Tucson Arts Brigade painted last spring. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)

The Tucson Arts Brigade has brought color and change to Tucson through extensive mural and art programs for over 17 years, one paintbrush  at a time. And despite financial difficulty, with a little innovation and creative thinking, their extensive after school programs and community outreach initiatives remain relevant to Tucson.

On April 26, the Tucson Arts Brigade’s (TAB) youth committee is holding an event called Colors of Our Voices: A Generation of Creative Youth. The event will feature interactive, educational workshops on everything from playing the flute, to performing monologues.


Colors of Our Voices Event

Saturday, April, 26

4-6 p.m.

Maker House

283 N. Stone Ave.


“It is a grass roots organization that survives only because of the community,” said Executive Director Michael Schwartz . About eight to 12 young people and four to five adults participate in youth meetings at the “Historic Y” near North Fourth Avenue every Monday night.

“Normally people think of art in a traditional context,” Schwartz said. “But we are talking about using art in innovative ways that influence thinking and the ways we go about problem solving.”

Beyond workshops like the ones being held at the end of April, TAB is known for their extensive after school programs. When an organization or school asks for help, the group creates personalized art programs geared toward promoting public discourse and advocacy while working to prevent problems like graffiti and drug use.

“We go into high crime areas and launch our projects,” Schwartz said.

Michael Schwartz works on his computer at the Historic Y before a Monday night youth meeting. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)
Michael Schwartz works on his computer at the “Historic Y”  before a Monday night youth meeting. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)

One of the biggest programs TAB is known for is their Mural Arts Program. The program is designed to help put an end to graffiti and brings people of all ages together to create public murals.

Their last large-scale mural was the Amphitheater neighborhood action mural. Last spring, youth came together and painted a mural on the outside of the Woods Memorial Library in an effort to encourage young people and their families to join in their neighborhood associations.

Currently, TAB isn’t involved in any large community projects, but they are still working on a smaller scale initiatives like the Color of Our Voices event.

The youth committee planning this event meets weekly, and its participants discuss everything from outreach goals to their own personal artistic journeys.

Individuals at these meetings range from middle school students to distinguished artists. But appearances and demographics don’t seem to matter at these gatherings.

The conversation is free flowing and the student planners and group leaders run meetings efficiently and cohesively. Members laugh and discuss their lives, while they simultaneously plan extensive agendas.

“The really cool thing about TAB is that no idea is turned away,” said administrative assistant Gene Trujillo.

Some of the possible workshops being held at the Color of Our Voices event include acting tutorials, song writing, art history lessons and printmaking. The workshops will be interactive and are “by youth, for youth.”



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