Economic reality is limiting funding for the arts in Tucson, leading artists and those providing art space to innovation, says a leading artist and arts promoter.

David Aguirre, owner of the Dinnerware Artspace, says his latest project connects the culinary arts with the collective spirit of dinnerware to help support artists and their work.

“When I see a need, I think how can we as artists come in and work something out in a new way,” Aguire says. That innovation, in turn, has led to parts of downtown Tucson becoming a haven for art and artists, Aguirre says.

He says Dinnerware has sought to breath life into underutilized areas by re-purposing vacant buildings.

“The building we’re in right now (425 W. Sixth St.) has been empty for about four years," Aguirre says. "I finally approached the Realtor and the owners and said, ‘Why don’t you let me bring Dinnerware over here? We’ll renew the space.’”

That was after he moved from the Steinfeld Warehouse up the street because of its deteriorating condition. Steinfeld is now owned by the Warehouse Arts Management Organization.

Aguirre says the city recently funded major upgrades to the building that included stabilizing the walls and the foundation and replacing the roof. He explains that the project was fast-tracked to ensure that federal stimulus money could be used before it expired.

Steinfeld is well on its way to becoming an important component of the downtown arts scene, and Dinnerware may have played a role in solidifying the building’s relevance, he says.