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Two Valley Arts Organizations Named ‘High Performing’ by Prestigious National Report
By Christina Caldwell - Monday Aug 31, 2020
As many arts organizations struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, two Valley arts institutions were named “high performing” by SMU DataArts (The National Center for Arts Research), in a prestigious report that tracks the health of arts organizations across the United States. Arizona Musicfest and Ballet Arizona were recognized among national arts organizations across 50 states.

The study, which evaluated data from the last seven years, identifies the “alchemy” of successful arts organizations based on high standards in the creation of work that is meaningful to the local community, audience and donor engagement, strong cornerstones of strategic vision, internal and environmental factors that affect the organization’s short and long-term gains, as well as the discipline and actions to achieve financial sustainability.
In addition to presenting large-scale, professional ballet performances throughout each season like “The Nutcracker” and “An Evening at Desert Botanical Garden,” Ballet Arizona connects to more than 35,000 children and families each year through its free and low-cost outreach programs, which bring the love of ballet to the masses.

“Even though we have had to alter plans for our 2020-2021 season, this study shows that Ballet Arizona has the staying power to withstand these tough times,” said Samantha Turner, executive director at Ballet Arizona. “We are thrilled to be ranked among these elite organizations.”

Arizona Musicfest, a Scottsdale-based nonprofit that presents an annual concert series, as well as education, youth performance and lifelong learning programs, was also a top performer in the SMU DataArts report. Artists recently presented by Musicfest include Michael Bolton, Chris Botti, Joshua Bell, Michael Feinstein, Midori, Neil Sedaka, Vanessa Williams, Herb Alpert, Tony Danza, Pink Martini, Chita Rivera, Gil Shaham, Wynonna Judd, Judy Collins, Tommy Tune, Sara Evans, Al Jarreau, Peter Yarrow, and Mavis Staples. Each season also features The Festival Orchestra.

“Arizona Musicfest is honored to be recognized by the SMU/DataArts report as one of the industry’s High Performing Arts Organizations,” said Musicfest Executive and Producing Director, Allan Naplan. “As we celebrate Musicfest’s 30th anniversary of serving Valley audiences, students, young musicians and lifelong music learners, we are proud and inspired to know that our success—both artistically and administratively—is not only appreciated by the local community, but also recognized on the national stage.”

To learn more about SMU DataArts and read the study, visit To learn more about Ballet Arizona, visit For more information about Arizona Musicfest, visit