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TPAC Turns 20 

The organization behind many of Tucson's arts programs is celebrating this weekend with a big party and fund-raiser

The teenage writers and photographers of Voices Inc. will be there. So will the actors of Invisible Theater, the dancers of Funhouse Movement Theater and Barbea Williams Performing Company and, permit pending, the flame throwers of Flam Chen.

What's all the fuss? The artists, all of them funded at one time or another by the Tucson Pima Arts Council, are celebrating TPAC's 20th anniversary from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, May 2 with a big arts and food blowout at La Encantada. Ever since the council was founded back in 1984, it has given grants to nearly every arts organization in the city and county, from the humble--Tucson Puppetworks--to the high--Tucson Symphony Orchestra. TPAC also supervises public art programs and started up an alternative high school, Artworks Academy, among many other programs.

"We're celebrating 20 years of making the arts happen in Tucson," said spokeswoman Karen Falkenstrom.

Tickets for the shindig are pricey--$100--but in the wake of multiple years of budget cuts, TPAC has turned its birthday party into a fund-raiser. The proceeds will go directly to its arts education programs and services for kids. Anybody paying for a ticket gets to taste wines and dine on hors d'oeuvres donated by the Tucson Originals, a group of locally owned restaurants including Café Terra Cotta, Red Sky Café and the new North.

But if you can't afford 100 big ones, come out anyway for the arts under the stars, open to the public. Besides the dance and theatrical performances, there'll be plenty of demos from glass-blowers and ceramists, and readings by poets. The silent auction comes with a twist. Cynthia Miller, Tom Philabaum, Gwyneth Scally and Mauricio Toussaint, among others, brought their painterly skills to bear on a total of 20 bottles of fine wine to be auctioned off. The auction also will feature work by kids in Barbara Seyda's Art Room, a project that brings art classes to kids housed in domestic violence shelters and other temporary homes.

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