In December 2008, I had the great privilege of interviewing the great folk singer/songwriter Vashti Bunyan for Northings Arts Journal. Amongst other things, we discussed her journey to the Highlands and Islands four decades ago.
HI-Arts has jokingly been referred to as “Hotel California” due to the length of time staff members tend to stay with the organisation. It must be doing something right. So it’s appropriate that I should end my sabbatical at a hotel in California.
The city of Yuma is a similar size to Inverness in the Highlands, and I came here to visit the Yuma Art Center.
On Thursday morning, I was up early for a 200 mile round trip to the town of Sells to visit the new Tohono O’odham Native Cultural Center and Museum. This might seem a long way, but the roads here make life easier – the only trick is to stay awake on those long, straight desert roads in a car with automatical gears.
Wednesday morning was my big event – I had offered to lead a session on marketing and audience development for resident artists and community businesses here in the Ajo area. Flyers had been sent out, notices posted and adverts placed, and we had a very respectable turnout of close to twenty people at the training.
I have found my new hot desk at the International Sonoran Desert Alliance offices in south-west Arizona. This week I’ll be in residence here in Ajo (pronounced ‘Ah-ho’), the largest town to be found in the US half of the Sonoran desert.
I moved on from my retreat at Diamond Mountain in the middle of the week – brain and body sore from a strict regime of aikido, debate class and sleeping outdoors.
On Sunday, I headed to Tombstone – the self-styled “Town too Tough to Die” and location of the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral, where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Virgil and Morgan Earp fought the notorious Clantons and McLaurys on 26 October 1881.
Last night, I headed out to see the Arizona Theatre Company’s latest production at the Temple of Music and Art theatre in downtown Tucson. I’m hoping to meet the theatre company’s managing director, Kevin Moore, later in the month, so thought I better do my homework!
Yesterday I picked up a surprisingly large hire car and moved on to the second stop on my Arizona sabbatical, Tucson.
It has been a long and historic day.
This morning, I had a fascinating meeting with Matt Lehrman. Matt is Executive Director of Alliance for Audience, an agency helping the Greater Phoenix region’s arts and cultural community to raise their visiblity and engage new audiences.
I woke early at 6am – which isn’t so bad considering that is 1pm British time. I think I may have beaten the jet lag by staying up late last night.
Greetings from Phoenix, where I have just arrived at the start of my month-long research sabbatical in Arizona.