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Tucson's Joey Burns, Lead Guitar part of Arizona coronavirus telethon for the arts

Tucson's Joey Burns, Lead Guitar part of Arizona coronavirus telethon for the arts

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series

Nearly two dozen Arizona artists including several from Tucson will take part in a 24-hour virtual telethon to benefit Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the nonprofit that advocates for arts groups statewide.

“Hearts for Arizona” will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3, and run through 4:59 p.m. Saturday, April 4, streamed live through the organization’s website,

Several Arizona business owners, politicians and celebrities will join a cast that includes Joey Burns of Calexico and Tucson’s Lead Guitar conducting guitar lessons. Other musicians involved include Robin Vining from Jimmy Eat World, David Rhodes from Tempe’s Big Finish Band and native flutist Aaron White from Flagstaff.

Visual artists include the Fortoul Brothers of Phoenix, Lia Littlewood from Yuma’s Littlewood Fine Art & Community Co-Op and Phoenix painter Faith Christiansen Smeets, who will paint during the event.

Also on tap (all from the Phoenix area unless noted):

  • A floral lesson from Botanist and the Bees
  • Be Kind People Project
  • Dawn Tucker from the Shakespeare Festival Flagstaff will conduct a poetry lesson and sonnet reading
  • Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
  • Chef/baker Dani Kump will hold a demonstration
  • Big Marble beer
  • Lisa Kiorkis from Seven Spice Life will livestream brunch
  • Motor Palace Mercantile in Winslow will offer a virtual store tour.

Arizona Citizens for the Arts Executive Director Joseph Benesh said his group started discussing ideas for the telethon last week after they were forced to postpone the Governor’s Arts Awards, the group’s biggest fundraiser. The event, which honors artists and those advocating and supporting the arts from throughout the state, has been pushed back to September. He said they were inspired to do a virtual statewide event after watching a number of musicians and artists over the past couple weeks take their art online in virtual concerts and events.

Other events planned for the telethon include:

  • Cooking demonstrations by other local chefs
  • Virtual tours of small businesses showing innovative ways they’re getting goods to their customers
  • Yoga demonstrations
  • Activities for children (book readings and puppet shows among them)
  • A silent auction with all of the items originally to be used during the now-postponed Governor’s Arts Awards Gala
  • Comments from elected officials including Rep. Greg Stanton and mayors from around the state.

Benesh said that in addition to raising money for his organization, the telethon is an opportunity to see the musicians and artists in their home settings.

“We’ve seen their personas and experienced their performances but we’ve never been invited into their homes and kitchens,” he said.

For the past 39 years, Arizona Citizens for the Arts has lobbied on behalf of artists and arts groups around the state at the state Legislature and local governments for issues including public funding and establishing partnerships with businesses and community leaders.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch.

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