Tag Archives: Childsplay

New plays for young audiences

Write Now recently issued the call for new plays for young audiences

Folks in the field of playwriting for youth are plenty familiar with the Bonderman Playwriting Festival for Youth, first conceived by founder Dorothy Webb in 1983. After Webb announced her retirement last year, Indiana Repertory Theatre (home of the Bonderman Festival since the mid-’90s) sought a new partner to help reimagine the festival.

Last May IRT and Childsplay met to begin work on transforming the Bonderman Festival into Write Now — a “biennial national competition and process-focused workshop” supporting the work of both emerging and established playwrights. Their collaboration is funded in part by a $100,000 award from the NYC-based Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The first Write Now gathering takes place March 14-17, 2013 in Tempe. The second takes place in Indianapolis during 2015.

IRT and Childsplay are collaborating to “advocate for playwrights and promote the development of new plays for young audiences.” Playwrights from across the country have until July 31 to submit their scripts for K-12 audiences to Write Now. Playwrights must be at least 18 years old when they submit their work, and only one submission per playwright will be accepted. Musicals will not be accepted for the 2013 contest.

At least four scripts will be selected by a panel of peers to participate in the full workshop process, which includes “a week on site at Childsplay with a development team, followed by a reading of the script at the Write Now gathering.” Semi-finalists will be invited to read excerpts of their scripts. Winners will be contacted in December.

Write Now gatherings are designed to engage playwrights, directors, actors, theater artists and others in the play development process. Producers, educators, students and theater practioners with a passion for new plays are invited to attend. The event features rehearsed readings of all finalist plays, excerpts of semi-finalist plays and an “experiential” artistic keynote.

Also “stimulating conversations about new pactices in the development of work for young audiences” and “a formal discussion of the development of a national new plays network for young audiences.” Registration fees are $150 (adults) and $135 (students) before Jan. 31, 2013 — and $175 (adults) and $160 (students) after.

There’s even a group rate on a limited number of rooms reserved by Childsplay at the Courtyard by Marriott Tempe Downtown, which is within walking distance of both Write Now venues — Childsplay’s Campus for Imagination and Wonder  and the Tempe Center for the Arts, where both local schools and community groups will participate as audience members.

So save the date, grab your pen and let the new works begin.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about submitting your work for consideration

Coming up: Art meets Mother’s Day, Once upon a dance competition, Festival spotlights women playwrights, One mother’s diary, Ode to Maurice Sendak

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Once upon a party

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Though our daughter Jennifer turned 21 yesterday, she asked us to postpone her party until the semester wraps at ASU. But hey, since I’m the one who birthed her, I figured I deserved a party too and headed out for a quick spin of Childsplay’s 35th birthday shindig at Tempe Center for the Arts — where I heard lots of people rave about the lovely setting. Think outdoor fire. Lakeside walks. Illuminated art. And lots of fabulous people, some donning balloon hats crafted to look like ladybugs, mouse ears, green one-eyed monsters and more.

I happened on one of Jennifer’s elementary school classmates, Kaleena Newman, soon after I arrived. She’s currently touring with Childsplay’s “With Two Wings.” Newman and a fellow volunteer were charged with selling mystery bags of unknown goodies, which I managed to resist until later in the evening — when I chose the lone purple one. Picture me climbing a rock wall eating a mouthful of pastries and you’ll have a good sense of what I discovered inside. Something tells me Lizabeth will be rocking that first gift card.

I also ran into plenty of Childsplay actors, including D. Scott Withers, who donned a sort of Mardi Gras meets swami get-up as he passed out long strings of purple, green and gold beads. Also Jon Gentry, who looked so much more debonair than the day I saw him work the long ears in “Go, Dog. Go!”

I also chatted a bit with Debra K. Stevens about this weekend’s opening of “The Color of Stars.” Seems several school groups have already seen the show, and Stevens praised the students for making really astute observations and asking truly insightful questions. Finally, I talked Childsplay summer camp and life in general with Yolanda London. (I last saw London perform in “Rock the Presidents” — and yes, there is a CD for that.)

Naturally I took a spin around the room set up with all things silent auction. Think trips, jewelry, original art and more. Also lots of tickets and such donated by other theater companies and arts organizations. I left before the final bids were recorded so there’s no telling what I might be the proud owner of today. Maybe the single raffle ticket I bought from a young girl toting a basket and a big smile was a winner. But no matter — it’s all for a good cause.

The TCA lobby was filled with all sorts of whimsical carnival-style games, and a photo booth folks entered after dressing up in accessories like neon wigs stashed in a nearby cardboard box. Also passed hors d’oeuvres and drink stations — plus four ASU student playing upbeat jazz fare. I left before they broke out the cake, suspecting Jennifer would let me indulge in one of her birthday cupcakes back home.

While at the soiree, I introduced myself to Colin Ross of “Rock the Presidents” fame. He’s a charming lad who thought I deserved the respect of a “ma’am” when we met, but I’m at the age where “miss” sounds a million times better than “you just won the lottery.” Ross’ parents done good, but I’m still in recovery.

I decided to cut out while in the throws of a nasty cough left over from a recent bout of bronchitis. It’s hard to party when you’re feeling both ancient and sickly. Plus, I was eager to get home to my own birthday baby. Someone asked as I left whether Jennifer was excited about being old enough to drink. Not really, I said. But she does have a hankering to play a mean batch of bingo.

— Lynn

Note: Play passes are now available for Childsplay’s 2012/13 season, which includes the return of “Rock the Presidents” and “June B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” Also “Recipe for Disaster” and “Boats” as well as two works based on books for youth — “The Giver” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Plus a chance to “Occupy the Barnyard!” with “Click, Clack, Moo!”

Coming up: From barber shop to deep dark woods, Fun PBS finds, Musings of a musician mom

Once upon a playwright

Family is a common theme in works by Dwayne Hartford, pictured here (upper right) with his great-grandfather Luther (middle center) and other family members in Smithfield, Maine (Photo courtesy of Childsplay)

Once upon a time, while working in the mental health field, I came upon a rare play tackling themes related to youth suicide. It was Dwayne Hartford’s “Eric and Elliot,” one of many works performed by Childsplay in Tempe, where Hartford is both associate artist and playwright-in-residence.

I was asked to spend some time talking with cast members about mental health disorders in children and teens, something I’d experienced in both personal and professional mode — and was struck by their genuine interest in touching the lives of youth who’d be seeing the play in school and community settings.

Luther Hartford (here with wife Mable) built the family farmhouse in Maine

Though “Eric and Elliot” feels most personal to me, it’s “The Color of Stars” — being performed through May 20 at Tempe Center for the Arts — that feels most personal to Hartford. Though the work is fictional, Hartford recently shared that it was inspired by a story his father told him several years ago about loggers who boarded at his great-grandfather’s farmhouse while harvesting giant red oak trees for the war effort.

Though vastly different in topic and tone, themes in “The Color of Stars” mirror those of “Rock the Presidents” — a musical that made its world premiere at Childsplay before starting a nationwide tour I’m hoping will someday lead to the White House. It features book and lyrics by Hartford, and music by Sarah Roberts — and its common thread with “Stars” is the duty of every citizen to serve his or her country and community.

Hartford’s plays have been developed through Childsplay’s Whiteman New Plays Program. They’ve earned several awards, and often tour the country after premiering here in the Valley. “Eric and Elliot” received a distinguished play award from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education in 2005, and “The Imaginators” was produced and aired by our local PBS affiliate.

Hartford’s “A Tale of Two Cities,” an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of love and redemption during the French Revolution, was developed through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and chosen for further development through NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences program — proof that the Arizona/NYC bridge gets traveled in both directions.

The family farmhouse in Smithfield, Maine where Hartford spent time as a child

Other works by Hartford, who holds a BFA in musical theatre from Boston Conservatory and began writing plays in 2000, include “A Little Bit of Water” and “The Bully Pulpit” (published as part of “The Bully Plays“). Nowadays he’s actor, director and playwright — plus theater educator. He’s teaching “On Stage: Play Production” (for ages 8-14) with Childsplay associate artist Katie McFadzen during this summer’s Childsplay Academy.

Folks eager to learn more about Hartford’s plays can find him on Facebook or hit his www.dwaynehartford.com website. Learn more about Childsplay — including their production of “The Color of Stars,” their “35th Birthday Party” happening tonight (April 27) and their summer academy classes by clicking here.

— Lynn

Note: Supporters of women playwrights should mark their calendars for this year’s Pandora Festival of New Works, coming to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts May 18-20. Artists/students can click here to learn about the Hormel New Works Festival Art Contest, which is accepting submissions through June 1.

Coming up: Students sing Sondheim, Musings on music education, More playwright profiles — including James Garcia, Ben Tyler, Jim Gradillas and many more

Going rogue?

I've always got my eye out for art -- like this "Right Eye from an Arthropoid Coffin" (1539-30 B.C., Egypt) recently spotted at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC

I feel a bit rogue sometimes — writing for an Arizona magazine, but finding such delight in covering NYC arts and culture. So I decided maybe it was time to share with readers in both states, plus others, my rationale for marrying the two. The initial lure, of course, was our youngest daughter Lizabeth. Like many born and raised in Arizona, she’s chosen to further her arts education in NYC — so I visit several times a year in “mom mode.”

But the bridge between Arizona and NYC (plus Chicago and other communities with a heavy arts footprint) is a two-way street. Many who teach and create art in Arizona communities hail from NYC or other parts of the country, and I enjoy giving voice to the places and spaces that’ve nurtured the gifts enjoyed by Arizona art lovers.

Art is all around and deep within us. Traveling without covering regional arts and culture would be like refusing to breath another city’s air. Suffocating. Rather than distracting Arizona readers from the beauty of our own arts bounty, I hope my writing “on the road” inspires a greater appreciation for the multitude of marvels here at home. Photos from a children’s museum in Manhattan or Las Vegas might inspire a family to visit the Children’s Museum of Phoenix or the Tucson Children’s Museum. So it’s all good.

Sometimes it feels like the art is keeping an eye on you -- like "Curious and Curiouser" by Mary Lucking and David Tinapple in the Arizona Science Center lobby

I’m fortunate to have lots of “Stage Mom” readers in NYC, and hope my blogging on both states’ offerings inspires them to consider the depth and breadth of Arizona arts and culture. We get plenty of bad press, and I’m privileged to cover what’s best about our state. Young poets, skilled playwrights, talented musicians, inspiring dancers, gifted actors. Also arts educators in our schools, museums and various community venues. Tourism takes place in both directions — and I’m an unapologetic missionary for the Arizona arts scene.

I suppose some of my kinship with NYC was born of years attending touring Broadway productions at ASU Gammage. I take special delight on reporting from NYC about shows I’ve seen on Valley stages — plus shows that’ll likely head our way during future tours. Only seeing “War Horse” performed at Lincoln Center in NYC enabled me to appreciate how fortunate we are that it’ll gallop into ASU Gammage during their 2012-13 season.

Some people seem to spy art wherever they go -- like this "Untitled" (1961) by Lee Bontecou that's exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum

Some assume that Arizonans are settling for mediocre on-stage and museum fare, but trips to NYC have heightened my appreciation for local offerings. Sometimes I find things that Arizona could use a lot more of — like arts and culture originating in Africa. Other times, I find modest NYC exhibits of Native American or Latino artworks that make clear the excellence of Arizona collections.

Stumbling on the Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s “Pattern Wizardry” in NYC years after I’d taken my children to enjoy the traveling exhibit at Mesa’s Arizona Museum for Youth reminded me, like Dorothy in her ruby red slippers, that you needn’t head over the rainbow to find what’s good and right in the world.

Still, we know that plenty of Arizona families travel — making choices when they do about where to invest precious resources like time and money. In an amusement park world, I’m keen on reminding parents to consider arts and cultural destinations too. Youth theater in San Diego. Orchestral concerts in Los Angeles. Public art in Las Vegas. Dance performance in Orlando. It’s all part of upping their appreciation for aesthetics, and the arts and culture industry so critical to a healthy American economy.

Teach your kids to look for art wherever they go -- like this eye detail on the glass house by Therman Statom located just outside the SMoCA young@art gallery in Scottsdale

It’s easy to take Arizona arts and culture for granted, forgetting just how exceptional our own theater companies from Childsplay to Valley Youth Theatre can be. Seeing touring productions from other parts of the country often reminds me that some of the country’s best artists live right here among us. Wowed as I was by a touring Kennedy Center production of “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” performed a while back at Higley Center for the Performing Arts, it confirmed my suspicion that Childsplay in Tempe routinely achieves the same high quality of theater performance for students and families.

Seeing works performed during the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City each summer always makes me more committed to attending Southwest Shakespeare Company productions here at home. Admiring works of glass art at the Brooklyn Museum last week left me eager to explore more glass art here at home. Similarly, performances enjoyed here in the Valley up my appreciation for works by artists in other places. During my last trip to NYC, I spent an evening watching local arts programming from Thirteen WNET New York Public Media — eager to watch a show about young poets after covering state Poetry Out Loud finals here in the Valley.

Comparing and contrasting are essential to the craft of theater criticism and other elements of arts reporting, so I’d be foolish to check my memories of places like the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the door when entering “Stage Mom” mode. The more I experience, the more I have to share with Arizona readers. “Going rogue” has a lovely ring to it, but there’s a circle to what I do — and Arizona will always be my center.

— Lynn

Coming up: Let’s talk “Bully”

The dance party starts at…

I'm returning to the Brooklyn Museum in New York City Saturday night to enjoy a Keith Haring exhibit and dance party

“The dance party starts at 8pm.” The fine folks at the Brooklyn Museum were kind enough to share this little ditty with me after learning I’d be in town for the weekend. Seems they’re planning all sorts of frivolity for April’s Target First Saturday, which also features deejay Junior Vasquez.

Our daughter, Lizabeth, who lives in NYC, will no doubt shudder at the thought of mom hauling out the “Macarena” moves — but she doesn’t have to watch. She’ll be busy with fellow Pace performing arts students doing their “Our Lady of 121st Street” thing at the Lion Theatre, where it’s opening that same night.

I’m hoping to explore several museums during my quick turnaround trip to see Lizabeth perform, yet sad to be missing all the arts adventures taking place in the Valley this weekend — including the premiere of Childsplay’s “Tomás and the Library Lady” at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Julianne Moore's book inspired the "Freckleface" musical

Before heading out, I’m hitting opening night for Valley Youth Theatre’s production of “Freckleface Strawberry” — the show’s only run outside of NYC before it launches a national tour in 2013. Seems VYT’s producing artistic director Bobb Cooper was invited about a year and a half ago to see the original Off Broadway production of “Freckleface Strawberry” (now “Freckleface The Musical“) featuring VYT alumna Kimiko Glenn in the role of Emily.

“She connected me to the creative team,” recalls Cooper, “who agreed to let us be the first theatre company outside of New York to mount this show.” Tonight’s opening includes a “special audience appearance by Glenn,” who first performed with VYT as one of seven dwarves in a 2000 production of “Snow White.” Before her last VYT gig in 2006, performing the role of Demeter in “Cats,” Glenn earned two AriZoni Awards.

Last time I visited Lizabeth in NYC, we went to see Nick Cartell (who also graced the VYT stage) perform in a preview of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway — where he rocks the Jonah/Swing gig. It’s hard to believe that so many of these young actors are now grown and doing their thing in NYC, L.A., Arizona and beyond.

But harder still to imagine all those empty-nester stage parents with newfound free time whooping it up at dance parties…

— Lynn

Note: Read more about “Tomás and the Library Lady” in the April issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine, and click here to explore the magazine’s calendar of events for Arizona families. Folks who hit VYT’s “Freckleface” Sat, April 7 at 3:30pm, can enjoy a free Q & A with Kimiko Glenn (who originated the role of “Emily” in “Freckleface Strawberry” in NYC and toured with “Spring Awakening”) after the show. Details at www.vyt.com.

Coming up:  Trees and tolerance, A diorama tale

The circle of theater

Kylie Cochrane (Laura), Rebecca Steiner (Beatrice) and Scotlyn Mascarelli (Sara) backstage after Saturday's matinee performance of William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" at Scottsdale Community College

Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Elton John’s “The Circle of Life.” Even Shakespeare-in-the-round and the Roundabout Theatre Company. Theater is full of circles — some dizzying, some delightful. But I had another sort of circle in mind when heading out for a performance of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker.”

The circle from child to adult, from teacher to mentor, from one mother to another. When high school felt torturous, theater was our daughter Lizabeth’s salvation. And Valley actress Maren Maclean, then teaching at Arizona School for the Arts, was there for her. To teach, to coach, to listen, to uplift and to embrace. I’ll never forget it.

Today I headed up to Scottsdale Community College for the matinee performance of “The Miracle Worker” so I could see Maclean’s daughter Scotlyn perform, knowing Liz would be right there with me if she could beam herself back from college acting studies in NYC. Our girls first met many years ago, and my how they’ve grown since.

Victoria Grace (L, Helen Keller) poses after the show with Sierra -- who brought lovely flowers to congratulate Grace on her performance

SCC  is another one of our circles. Our son Christopher earned his degree there and continues to take classes in career-related offerings, also working and volunteering with the school’s Center for Native and Urban Wildlife. It was actually Christopher who reminded me to hit “The Miracle Worker” — I kept feeling like late March was worlds away. The world spins quickly when we’re not watching.

Lizabeth also trained for two summers with Maclean — plus SCC theatre arts chair Randy Messersmith and other theater professionals — in the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, which celebrates its 25th season this summer. Auditions for the five-week program are open to folks ages 16 + and this year’s auditions take place Sat, April 21.

SCT “provides students with an opportunity to earn up to 10 semester hours of college credit while studying with professional actors who are currently working in their field.” This year’s program runs from May 29-July 3. The twenty students selected to participate will enjoy classes in stage movement, mask, voice and diction, and text analysis.

Carrie Rockwell (L, Aunt Ev) and John Viliott (Captain Keller) pose after Saturday's matinee of SCC's "The Miracle Worker"

The program’s founder and former director, Pamela Fields, will be teaching a master class in Anton Chekhov acting technique, and the college will be producing “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon. I first met Fields while we were fellow ASU Gammage Goers, and recall being wowed by her theater expertise, insightful sense of humor and warm spirit. (I wasn’t yet in RAK “Stage Mom” mode.)

I suppose the circle is growing into something of a line at this point. Actually several of them. I’ll be following one to Mesa Arts Center for the April 19-May 5 run of Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which features Jesse James Kamps and Maren Maclean as Benedick & Beatrice. I last encountered these characters during a Childsplay summer camp performance, which made me adore “Ado” even more.

The circle started long ago at Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley, where Lizabeth and fellow students enjoyed rich experiences in arts and academics. Lizabeth first took to the stage in Greasepaint Youththeatre productions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The King and I” (turns out a fellow actor from the latter is now a swing in “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway).

I remember her absolute delight — and that of her sister Jennifer (who performed with great aplomb in “Pinocchio” and “Hansel and Gretel” at Greasepaint) — when teachers came to see her perform, and made time after to chat about the experience and ask for autographs. Today it was my turn to make a little girl’s day, though Scotlyn hardly needed the encouragement. No time for autographs when you’ve got another show to prepare for. Your last chance to see SCC’s production of “The Miracle Worker” is tonight at 7:3opm.

Grace (L) posing with Bonanni after Saturday's matinee

It’s a lovely, charming piece directed with finesse by Ron Bonanni. The script is absolutely beautiful — and a real delight for those of us whose passion for words mirrors that of teacher Annie Sullivan. You’ll know both Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan better for seeing it, and you’ll be impressed with the professionalism of this production — which features scenic design by Alex Keen and costume design by Elizabeth Peterson. It’s produced by Randy Messersmith.

Kirsten Zollars (Anne Sullivan), Victoria Grace (Helen Keller) and Christopher Masucci (James Keller) gave especially strong performances — and each excels at showing their character’s smart and saucy side. I especially enjoyed songs and spirituals sung throughout the play, and the playwright’s subtle digs at the politics and gender stereotypes of the time. That’s a whole other circle that just keeps turning.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about the application/audition process for this year’s Summer Conservatory Theatre at SCC. You can buy tickets for tonight’s performance of “The Miracle Worker” at the SCC Performing Arts Center at the door (SCC is located at 9000 E. Chaparral Rd.).

Coming up: A city inside a museum

Cactus meets creativity

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Artist Ed Mell, who most recently designed the Arizona Centennial Postage Stamp, was named Artist of the Year and ASU Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack and Museum of Northern Arizona Director Robert Breunig shared the Individual Award at tonight’s 31st annual Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards at the Herberger Theater Center.

Several additional awards were presented as well, all after remarks by Governor Jan Brewer and others who spoke in unison about the importance of arts to Arizona’s economy, quality of life, education landscape and more. Here’s the rundown:

Arts in Education-Individual Award: Beth Lessard, Tempe, former chair of the Arizona State University Department of Dance

Arts in Education-Organization Award: Arizona School for the Arts

Community Award: Arizona Cowboy Poet Gathering, Prescott

Business Award: JP Morgan Chase

Arts advocate and leader Darryl Dobras of Tucson received the 2012 Shelley Award for advancing the arts through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona.

SRP was the Presenting Sponsor of the 2012 Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. Other sponsors for the event included Boeing, Arts Entertainment Sponsor; Resolution Copper Mining, Commemorative Program Sponsor; Southwest Ambulance, Artist Award Sponsor; and Herberger Theater Center, Venue Sponsor. Nicely done, one and all.

Honorees received specially created awards reflecting Arizona’s beauty and diversity — by Arizona artists Joe Ray of Scottsdale, Fausto Fernandez of Phoenix, George Gaines-Averbeck of  Flagstaff, Gennaro Garcia of Ahwatukee, Judith Walsh of Oracle, Catherine Nash of Tucson, Emily Costello of Superior and Julius Forzano of Scottsdale.

Nearly 500 arts supporters, advocates, business leaders and elected officials attended the annual event — which featured entertainment by Desert Dance and Friends (think percussion a la Samsonite), Childsplay, (think rap meets American history) and the Bad Cactus Brass Band (think Arizona with a twist of New Orleans). Also a silent auction beforehand and swanky dessert reception after. Think dainty little red velvet whoopie pies, coconut cupcakes and such.

More than 80 individuals, artists, businesses, arts education programs and community programs from about two dozen communities around the state were nominated for this year’s awards.

Here’s the scoop on 2012 honorees, provided by the fine folks who present the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards…

Ed Mell. Born and raised in Phoenix, Mell has been a working artist in Arizona for more than 40 years. His work elevates the public profile of arts in the state through his unique blend of cubist forms that capture Arizona landscapes and depicts the brilliance of the Arizona sky. Mell left a prestigious career as an art director and illustrator in New York to accept a teaching position on the Hopi reservation in 1970 that reconnected him with the land he loved and that set his artistic course. He has produced oils, print series and bronze sculptures and has donated his work to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, the Arizona Cancer Society, to name only a few. His works are found in major public and private collections. Mell’s painting of Cathedral Rock in Sedona was selected as the artwork for the first-class stamp commemorating Arizona’s centennial this year.

Robert Breunig, Flagstaff. When Robert Breunig arrived as director in late 2003, the Museum of Northern Arizona was in imminent danger of closing. The museum had lost its American Association of Museums accreditation and its severe financial condition required that 20 items its collection be sold to pay for operating expenses and cover the deficit. Since those dark days, Dr. Breunig has guided the museum back on a path of financial stability and organizational credibility. The museum collection has grown to 3,200 fine art pieces and 15,000 ethnographic objects and its cultural anthropology collection totals 225,000 artifacts and research collections from 28,000 sites representing 12,000 years of native occupation. Before taking on the responsibilities at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Breunig had served as director of the Desert Botanical Garden from 1984 to 1995 and was deputy director at chief curator at the Heard Museum from 1982 to 1985.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Tempe. Colleen Jennings-Roggensack has been presenting the performing arts for 33 years and will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Executive Director for ASU Gammage and Assistant Vice President for Cultural Affairs in June. Her leadership and her mission at ASU has been to “Connect Communities” by enabling patrons, artists and the entire community to discover new avenues of intercultural communication through the arts. Under her leadership, the Broadway series has grown into one of the top touring markets in the nation producing an annual economic impact of $40 million in the Valley. Jennings-Roggensack was nominated by President Clinton and served on the National Council on the Arts from 1994 to 1997. Since 2007, she has served on The Broadway League’s Board of Governors and she is Arizona’s only Tony Award voter.

Beth Lessard, Tempe. The chair of the ASU Dance Department from 1977 to 1993 and professor until her retirement in 1999, Dr. Lessard elevated the dual degree path for dancers interested in both teaching and creating and performing dance. Under her guidance, the Arizona Dance Education Organization was formed to provide resources, scholarships and educational support for Arizona teachers and schools to provide quality dance curriculum.  She also established the artist-in-residence program at ASU to bring national dance artists and companies to Tempe to teach, collaborate and perform with students and faculty.

Arizona School for the Arts. ASA is a high-achieving school for students who want to work with professional artists as part of the core school experience. Now in its 16th year, students and the non-profit college preparatory/performing arts school spend their mornings immersed in core academic studies and their afternoons in the performing arts. The Arizona School for the Arts has been recognized by the US Department of Education, the state of Arizona Department of Education and the Kennedy Center.

Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott. The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the oldest in Arizona, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in August to support its mission to educate, promote and preserve cowboy poetry, music and western heritage culture and history. The Gathering not only provides entertainment, but an opportunity for poets and bearers of cowboy oral traditions to assemble in a spirit of mutual appreciation and support and to strengthen ties with the ranching community and general public. In recent years, the organization has brought poetry into fourth-grade classrooms in the Prescott area to introduce students to poetry, the ranching heritage of Yavapai County and the music of the cowboy.

JP Morgan Chase Bank. JP Morgan Chase strives to increase community access to rich cultural resources that foster creativity, promote self-expression, celebrate diversity and strengthen the environment. An active supporter of the arts for more than 20 years, the company’s recent funding of Arizona Theatre Company offset expenses of producing a statewide education program connected to ATC’s America Plays! Celebrating Great American Stories Initiative. JP Morgan Chase also has been a consistent supporter of Childsplay, Ballet Arizona, Phoenix Symphony, Alliance for Audience and the Desert Botanical Garden, to name only a few.

The Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by the Office of the Governor, Arizona Citizens for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. It’s lovely when cactus meets creativity.

— Lynn

Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Broadway trends