Posted by: TJDuprey Unlimited | December 31, 2008

Burger City and Kelly’s Market Open on 6th Avenue, Tucson

What do you do in a challenged economy when you’re in an industry that is already under-funded?  Well if you’re ArtFare, Tucson’s Community Cultural Arts Center, you think outside the box.  Really far outside the box.  December saw the opening of two ArtFare businesses, providing much needed jobs for downtown residents as well as generating funds to benefit Tucson arts and the revitalization of the historic Cultural Arts Corridor in the heart of downtown Tucson.

The two businesses, a restaurant and a convenience store, donate their proceeds, after overhead, to supporting the arts. ArtFare collaborates with Tucson’ Cafe 54 Coyote Workforce program, whose primary mission is as an award-winning training program serving individuals recovering from mental illness, and Arbor Education and Training, a back to work program which provides on site job coaches. MECA, Music Entertainment and Culinary Arts development program, is an ArtFare program offering participants unique entrepreneurial opportunities (since Jan 2006) wherein ArtFare staff and 25 volunteers offer assistance developing a business model for artists. ArtFare developed the businesses in 2008 under MECA to provide stable funding for the arts in the Cultural Arts Corridor of Downtown Tucson.

bcwblacktlogo_outlinedBurger City offers gourmet burgers and unexpected side dishes as well as a pickle bar.  There is a large screen TV set up for viewing both the kitchen (food performance art?) as well as for viewing other specially scheduled programs.  The full menu is available for takeout.  A hip and exciting hangout which attracts downtown city employees as well as the college after-sports, after-theater crowd, Burger City features hand pressed burgers and locally baked buns with fresh, hand cut fries or a side of street roasted corn. Everything on the menu is ala carte, and, a new and exciting dessert is featured weekly. Several tables are designated “creativity tables” and art supplies are offered for up and coming DiVinci’s to create on the wooden surfaces.

Located at 47 N. 6th Avenue in the heart of downtown, the restaurant is open from 11 am until 10 pm Monday through Wednesday and from 11 am until 3 am Thursday through Saturday to accommodate the club crowd.  The restaurant is closed on Sunday.

Kelly’s Market is conveniently located next door and in the finest tradition of bodegas and delis will offer deli foods (prepared in the Burger City kitchen )as well as stocking some of life’s necessities.  Downtown and running late from work but have to pick up some milk and puppy chow on the way home?  Call it in, pay with credit or debit, and drive up to the front of the market.  They’ll have it bagged ready for you to pay and dash home.

1_art_fare_kellys_market__logo_As an “artist enabler” Kelly’s is host to free form music and spontaneous open mic nights set up on the raised stage at the back of the Market.  Some instruments are supplied by the management (at any given time you may find drum set, a keyboard or even a stray saxophone).  To accommodate the downtown work population as well as area residents Kelly’s is open from 9 am until 9 pm daily. Michelle Hill supervises Kelly’s day to day operations while workers learn valuable work skills and distribute information about classes and other events in the Cultural Arts Corridor.

ArtFare, headquartered in the historic Sears Executive Tower on 6th Avenue and stretching down most of the block, has renovated adjacent buildings, creating a steady source of revenue with a new café and a market.  State and Federal funding of arts programming decreased dramatically in the 1990’s and local funding has not recovered since the deep cuts after 9/11. Most recently, Tucson suffered drastic cuts from Tucson Pima Arts Council, which supplies the majority of funding outside of the Arizona Commission of the Arts funding. (sources: NEA, National Assembly of state Arts Agencies, Americans for the Arts, Arizona Governor’s Report, Tucson Pima Arts Council)

The cost of providing reduced-cost space, utilities, support staff and, in some cases, funding for struggling artists and musicians has skyrocketed.  Rather than turn away deserving artists and organizations or fold up and close, ArtFare has found a way to be even more of an asset to the downtown community.

Profits from both Burger City and Kelly’s will support the non-profit endeavors of ArtFare, after costs and wages for its cheerful employees. For more information, contact Executive Director Tig Collins at .


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