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FeaturedFrom the Director

A thriving and equitable midtown

By May 5, 2020 May 6th, 2020 No Comments

What would a thriving and equitable Midtown look like, if we identified and invested in the history, artistic talent, and creative expression of our community?

In response to this question, a collaborative team of award-winning local and regional art, design, workforce development, and educational institutions have formed the emerging Midtown Arts Alliance. We envision Midtown Santa Fe as a vibrant arts, culture, and creative center, with a focus on investing in local artists and regional Indigenous and Hispanic, Chicano, and Latinx communities.

We believe that, through a shared vision and strong collaboration, we can deepen collective positive impact on the Midtown site and, as a result, the adjacent communities. This is why SFAI and our partners applied for and received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, through the Our Town Grant, to engage the local community in developing this vision. We also submitted an RFEI (Request for Expressions of Interest) proposal to the City of Santa Fe in October 2019, to help expand this vision and to provide community use of the world-class Visual Arts Center facilities.

We are excited to be part of the selected team, as we forge new methods of community engagement and principles of ethical redevelopment that are specific to our place in Santa Fe.

Although ​on-site ​events are currently limited due to COVD-19, we are using the Our Town Grant to implement critical (virtual) programming and to support the overall vision. SFAI and our partners at Littleglobe and UNM are ​excited to build a “cartography of creativity” for Santa Fe, as an extension of the City’s Culture Connects project, and with a focus on gathering stories about the lived experiences of those who reside in the neighborhoods surrounding the Midtown property.

We envision a community-based archive, a repository to be developed and used by community members, now and in the future, which we also hope will inform the City’s development practices and policies – and perhaps inspire new forms of creative expression to celebrate the lives of people in these neighborhoods.

We believe that the expressions of place will reveal the values inherent to the neighborhoods that run adjacent to the Midtown Campus, as well as help to identify any barriers—physical, financial, or otherwise—that have made interacting with one’s neighborhood and the campus more burdensome.

We will combine our findings into a brief that will be provided to – and in conversation with – the City and the development team, to help shape the vision and outcomes for the future of the site.


  • A joint SFAI/UNM Midtown Santa Fe Studio, where Professors Tim Castillo and Andrea Polli have been working with UNM graduate and undergraduate students in art and architecture to build a digital mapping platform and community database, to develop engagement strategies for that platform, and to develop ethical development and creative placekeeping principles specific to Midtown;
  • An online storytelling toolkit by Littleglobe as part of their ¡Presente! Project, piloted in partnership with Santa Fe Public Schools;
  • The Six Degrees of Connection project with enlaces – or community liaisons – Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Alicia Inez Guzmán, and Chrissie Orr, who are working to gather stories, and connect with nearby residents and businesses; and
  • Multiple engagement opportunities, both virtual and IRL, for local artists — to be announced soon!

This is a unique and unprecedented opportunity to celebrate the artistic talent, distinct expressions, and creativity of our own community, and to demonstrate their impacts toward sustained, social change.


Littleglobe, the University of New Mexico School of Architecture + Planning and College of Fine Arts, MASS Design Group, YouthWorks, MAKE Santa Fe, CENTER, Black Rock Editions, and Creative Santa Fe.

And thank you to the Santa Fe community! We hope to grow the Alliance with all of your help – and we will keep you posted as we move forward!