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Culture and Craft

Most of us residing between the age of 21 and Social Security eligibility would agree that among the things making life worthwhile are good food, good music—and good beer. And that's what the Tucson Museum of Art is banking on Saturday night, Dec. 7, for Art on Tap, which may be the largest-ever arts and-craft beer festival in this town.

Sixteen Arizona breweries, including Tucson's Borderlands, Barrio, Thunder Canyon and Dragoon, have signed up for the festivities along with numerous food trucks. The festival is aimed at bringing new faces into the museum's fold, and sharing the arts with an untapped demographic.

"Museums tend to skew K through 12 and over 65. That middle ground—18 to 64—is being lost in the arts. Our competition is not MOCA or the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. It's the couch," said Michael Fenlason, director of public relations and marketing for the museum. "After a long institutional conversation, we decided we needed to open up our programming more. Create opportunities for emerging artists, younger professionals, and people who just like art."

That opportunity is Art on Tap, and craft beer is some very juicy bait. But will beer alone hold the attention of those new faces for long? The answer is that it won't have to. Museum officials expect they will come for the beer, but hope they will stay for the art. The festival will feature a show of works by more than 40 local artists, including live art performances by Joe Brown, Graham Thompson, the Sonoran Glass School and Jim Jones. And for those who want to get in on the fun, Ben's Bells and The Drawing Studio will be on hand to provide festival attendees with interactive art experiences. Rounding out the evening will be live musical performances by Saint Maybe, Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls, and Satyr Entertainment.

The festival is not just simply a good time, however. The Tucson Museum of Art is taking Art on Tap as an opportunity to announce the launch of new program, START, which is aimed at changing the role of the museum in the community and encouraging active participation in the arts. In a press release, the museum said START'S mission "is to engage the community with participatory experiences, expansive outreach to emerging professionals, art enthusiasts, and artists," and to create "visitor-centered, arts-led events both at the Museum and throughout Southern Arizona." With Art on Tap as the flagship event (and more in the works), START has its sights set on changing the relationship the arts and the museum have with the Tucson community. It's primed to show Tucson that art is to be experienced, enjoyed and engaged.

Art on Tap is also a fundraiser for the Tucson Museum of Art's education programs, which "reach over 20,000 kids a year and provide free services for many low-income schools," according to Fenlason. So if you needed another reason to go—there you have it. Think of the kids, man!

General admission tickets are $40 in advance and $50 the day of the event. The cost to museum members is $30, and if you're the designated driver for the evening, you get in for $20. Art on Tap runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave. For more info, call 624-2333 or go to tucsonmuseumofart.org.

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