Tag Archives: Orpheum Theatre

There’s no place like home

Fun souvenirs from "The Wizard of Oz" spotted during intermission at Mesa Arts Center

There’s no place like home — but sometimes we need to be reminded. Hence the timeless appeal of stories like L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz,” which is being brought to life on Valley stages this week thanks to Oz Theatre Company.

The show, originally adapted for the Royal Shakespeare Company by John Kane, features music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Yarburg. “The Wizard of Oz” is the first of four shows playing in Mesa and Phoenix as part of the 2011/12 Theater League season.

I attended a Dec. 7 matinee at the Mesa Arts Center, where several families — many spanning three generations — also enjoyed the show. A pair of elementary age boys told me the show was really funny, and several girls noted that “Dorothy did a really good job.” For some, it was the black terrier “Toto” who stole the show.

This family from Scottsdale (including a camera shy grandfather) told me they loved the show

Kerri McNeill, who recently earned a B.A. in theatre performance from Wagner College, makes her national touring debut as Dorothy Gale, and does a superb job. Her Dorothy is fresh and vibrant, with strong vocals — which explains the long list of “Past and Present of Wagner on Broadway” on the school’s website.

Patrick Pevehouse (Hank/Scarecrow) attended Oklahoma City University, Brian Maxseen (Hickory/Tinman) holds “a B.A. in make-believe from NYU/Tisch” and Brent Walker (Zeke/Lion) graduated with a BFA in musical theatre from the University of Central Florida. I notice these things more now that my own daughter is pursuing a BFA in acting at Pace University in NYC.

The trio’s collective performance is enchanting, bringing real warmth and humor to the stage. Audience members of all ages rewarded them often with laughter and applause, and also seemed especially smitten with Laurie Pascal in the roles of Miss Gulch and Wicked Witch of the West.

Kelly Karcher (Auntie Em/Glinda), Bryan Miner (Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard), and Bob Pritchard (Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz) round out the very capable cast. The ensemble, which often breaks into old-school song and dance ala television variety shows of bygone days, adds real charm throughout.

Greasepaint Youtheatre actors ages 8 to 12 perform the role of Munchkin

Our own local actors, ten “Munchkins” from Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale, spend more time on stage than I’d expected — and fit right in with the rest of the cast. They’re perky, polished and professional, and I fully expect to be reviewing many of them in future touring productions. Enjoy them on Valley stages while you still can.

This production of “The Wizard of Oz” is a beautiful blend of storytelling and stagecraft for the young and young at heart. Never mind that cables are faintly visible as witches float through the air. It’s plenty magical for young audiences, as are projections that bring tornado debris, poppies and snow to life. The show features projections created by Second Home Productions, Aerographics by Flying by Foy and Special Effects by I & M Special Effects.

But I took more delight in the show’s colorful, creative costumes — plus imaginative wigs and hair props. The original set and costumes were designed by Tim McQuillen-Wright, and Bernie Ardia served as the original wig designer. Costume coordination and additional costume designs are the work of Jimm Halliday.

Head props, including tree branches that seem to grow like gravity-defiant pigtails dotted with shiny red apples, are the work of Liz Spray. Head wardrobe — no small feat in a show full of wonderfully whimsical hats, is by Jennifer Mohrman. Wigs are by Anthony Lauro. All enhance the show’s kid-friendly feel.

This Chandler family had lots of praise for the Wednesday matinee performance

After three performances at Mesa Arts Center, “The Wizard of Oz” now moves to the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix for a Dec. 8-11 run. It’s another intimate venue perfect for introducing young audiences to musical theater. Take your children now, before they’re grown and moved away. Memories created at the theater together remind us for a lifetime that there’s no place like home.

— Lynn

Note: Future shows in the 2011/12 Theater League season for Mesa and Phoenix include “My Fair Lady,” “The Rat Pack is Back!” and “Rock of Ages.” Learn more at www.theaterleague.com. Folks with a special interest in projections in theater design will enjoy David Barbour’s “The Prevalence of Projections” in the Dec. 2011 issue of American Theatre magazine.

Coming up: Strolling meets sculpture, Quilting for a cause


Big MAC attack!

Sunday is your last chance to see Mesa Encore Theatre perform The Music Man, which beat out West Side Story to win the 1958 Tony Award for best musical

Knowing the 2011 Tony Awards are right around the corner, I decided to go in search of local productions of Tony Award-winning musicals. I started with shows coming to the Mesa Arts Center after getting an e-mail alert that tickets for their 2011-2012 Broadway series, which includes four shows, start at just $95.

Watch the Tony Awards on CBS this Sunday night to see who wins best musical for 2011

The series includes “Rock of Ages,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Rat Pack is Back” — plus “My Fair Lady,” winner of the 1957 Tony Award for best musical. The 1958 Tony Award for best musical went to “The Music Man,” which is being performed at MAC by Mesa Encore Theatre through June 12.

I’ll have to share other Tony Award winners coming to Valley stages in a later post, because I’m experiencing a bit of a”big MAC attack” at the moment. Turns out there’s a ton of good stuff happening at the Mesa Arts Center, so I’ve got MAC on the brain instead.

The Mesa Arts Center has offerings in four main areas — shows, classes, events and museum exhibits. Upcoming shows sound plenty intriguing. There’s “Retro,” “Live Love Dance!,” and even Steve Martin and his banjo buddies. Events to watch for include fall and spring “out to lunch” concert series, the Mesa Arts Festival and celebrations of Dia de los Muertos.

This girl should have signed up for music classes through Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center offers classes in visual and performing arts. Think blacksmithing for the grown-ups and ceramic “mud pups” for children. Also American tribal dance and belly dance classes. Plus “scenes for teens” acting classes and a “dance sampler” for kids who want to explore various dance options.

Exhibits opening today at MAC’s “Mesa Contemporary Arts” space — a collection of five galleries — include “Picturing Maricopa” and “Women’s Work.” Other current exhibits include “Chicanitas,” “Vermilion Remains,” and “Wood & Substance, Substance & Spirit.”

Another snappy dresser from the Mesa Encore Theatre production of The Music Man

That’s a lot of art for an admission fee of just $3.50. Kids age 7 & under are always free — and admission is free for all on Thursdays (the museum is closed on Mondays). I’m going to have to move this to the top of my “me time” to do list. My grown children would enjoy the works, but they’re already off and running in a million directions this summer. Bummer.

— Lynn

Note: The Theater League 2011-2012 Broadway series also performs at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix

Coming up: Art meets science — with a twist of creative genius

Photo credit: Sarah Rodgers and Wade Moran

GRAMMY Foundation honors Arizona school

When tickets went on sale recently for two year-end “Showcase” performances by Arizona School for the Arts, I was first in line to get mine — for both May 31 and June 1 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona School for the Arts is a Phoenix charter school for grades 5-12 that prides itself on coupling rigorous academics with conservatory level performing arts training in music, theater and dance.

My daughter Lizabeth is in the senior class, and will be performing both evenings with fellow students in the theater department. When last I heard, the ASA Glee/Show Choir (with select Jazz Band members) was scheduled to open the May 31 performance with a song from the Broadway musical “American Idiot.”

She’s especially thrilled having seen “American Idiot” with her dad just a few months ago at the St. James Theater in NYC.

Other ASA groups performing Tuesday evening include Advanced Guitar, Ballet Corps Intensive, Chamber Singers, High School Piano Team, Intermediate Dance, Jazz Band Combos, Wind Ensemble and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

Turns out that the ASA music department will be enjoying a rather special honor that evening — as a representative from the GRAMMY Foundation presents ASA one of its 2011 GRAMMY Signature Schools Enterprise Awards.

Laura Apperson, ASA arts director and professional musician, notes that ASA is the first and only school in Arizona ever to receive the prestigious award. The application process, says Apperson, included submitting extensive written materials and recordings of music performance by ASA students.

Resonation Multimedia helped ASA prepare the CD submitted to the GRAMMY Foundation — which included performances by the following groups: Chamber Singers, Orchestra, Sinfonia, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Guitar Ensemble and Piano Quartet.

The GRAMMY Foundation reports that each of the 27 schools receiving the Enterprise Award this year will receive a $5,500 grant. Apperson is thrilled that the funds will help ASA invest in mixers, mics and other recording equipment for use in classroom and performance settings.

Several ASA music groups are performing during Wednesday’s “Showcase” at the Orpheum Theatre — including 5th and 6th Grade Choirs, Men’s Choirs, Percussion Ensemble, the Showcase Orchestra and more. Additional June 1 performance groups include Ballet Foundations I & II, Intro to Dance, Theatre and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

I have to admit that when I first learned of ASA’s GRAMMY Foundation award, I thought for a second that they’d received a GRAMMY Award for vocal performance.

Last time I heard one of ASA’s advanced choral ensembles perform, under the direction of Craig Westendorf, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m convinced that it was one of the best choral performances I’ve ever experienced — anywhere. But alas, they won’t let me give those Grammy puppies out on the spot.

I hope you’ll join me for ASA Showcase 2011 on May 31 and/or June 1. I’ll be the one in the lobby humming the little ditty by Green Day.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about the work of this “Excelling” (from the Arizona Department of Education) and “Blue Ribbon” (from the U.S. Department of Education) school.

Coming up: SMoCA young@art gallery welcomes new exhibit, What’s new in Shakespeare?, Art meets the Arizona State Capitol, Charmed (literally) by Childsplay

Photos courtesy of Arizona School for the Arts

Acrobat dreams

Cirque Dreams Illumination recently made one Valley girl's dreams come true

Seems to me I must have fantasized at least a few times as a child about running off to join the circus. And now that I’ve parented three teens, I admit to sometimes feeling as though I’m living in the three-ring variety.

But I hadn’t given serious thought to what it might be like to truly experience a career in the circus arts until chatting recently with a 12-year-old girl from Mesa, who performed with Cirque Dreams Illumination during a November performance here in the Valley.

Cassi Parker-Swenson, a student at Arizona School for the Arts in downtown Phoenix, had just returned from performing at Disneyland when her dad posted some pictures on Facebook.

Turns out an acquaintance who saw the photos had just heard about a “Runaway with Cirque Dreams” contest taking place in October at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix.

The contest, also dubbed a casting call, was open to the first 100 people in line who could show their stuff with a routine up to two minutes in length — although Parker-Swenson recalls there being far fewer folks there that Friday morning.

“I didn’t have a prepared routine,” recalls Parker-Swenson. Instead, she did “basic handstands, a back walkover” and such. Her mom, Andrea Parker-Swenson, learned by phone the following Monday that her daughter had gotten the gig.

Then, she went through some pretty impressive hoops of her own — keeping the good news a secret until a television news crew could spring into action that Wednesday during a science class at Cassi’s school.

Parker-Swenson recalls feeling “proud and excited” as she got the news amidst classmates who cheered and gave her plenty of “high fives.” Perhaps there is a science report in her future — tackling something like “the physics of acrobatic performance art.”

Like these Cirque Dreams Illumination performers, Cassandra Parker-Swenson has high hopes

Parker-Swenson got to see “Cirque Dreams Illumination” at the Mesa Arts Center on a Tuesday night, Nov 9. Two days later, she rehearsed with the group as they prepared to open a Nov 11-14 run at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

“It was pretty easy,” says Parker-Swenson, recalling her time with the company’s choreographer. She’d gotten her costume Thursday but didn’t actually get to put everything together until she “went over all the tricks the day before the performance.”

The young acrobat trains with “Leap of Faith Dance and Performing Arts” in Gilbert — which offers classes for ages three to adult — all with a “committment to excellence and Christian principles.”

Their offerings include preschool dance, ballet, tap, contemporary, break dancing, acro-gymnastics, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, tumbling, musical theater/Broadway and combination classes.

Andrea Parker-Swenson raves about Bruce McGregor, the studio’s acro-gymnastics and tumbling instructor — describing him as both coach and performance partner for her daughter.

Cirque Dreams Illumination is one of many shows that elevate acrobatics to a fine art

She notes that McGregor performed along with Cassi during Sunday’s Cirque Dreams Illumination show at the Orpheum — proving that acrobat dreams belong not only to the very young but also to the very young at heart.

But what of making those dreams a reality? Parker-Swenson, now in 7th grade, says she “expects to do acrobatics as a career.” For now, she simply takes acrobatics classes “twice a week, for several hours.”

She also plays the flute, and has experience in community theater with folks like Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale. Riding the Phoenix METRO light rail home from school each day gives her a chance to do homework before she begins those busy afternoons.

Parker-Swenson and McGregor pose with fellow acrobats from Cirque Dreams Illumination

Parker-Swenson enjoyed training in gymnastics from age three to seven, but says she left “because it was too competitive” as peers began “training for the Olympics.”

She touts the “teamwork” element of acrobatics, which she learned about from a girl she met at a play who was having a great time doing all sorts of flips and other tricks.

“I like the team environment” says Parker-Swenson. “I like the emphasis on performing rather than competing–it’s really fun.”

It seems this family, which also includes 9-year-old Olivia, enjoys all kinds of experiences related to arts and culture. Olivia Parker-Swenson is a fourth grader at the International School of Arizona in Scottsdale, which specializes in early foreigh language acquisition through immersion.

Scottsdale is also home to the Circus School of Arizona, headed by Scottsdale native Rachel Stegman. This is comforting news to those who worry our only expertise in the circus arts exists in the realm of Arizona politics.

I prefer to focus on the dreams of the aspiring circus and acrobatic performers among us — who take the cartwheels we enjoyed in front lawns way before the advent of the Wii to a whole new level.

— Lynn

Note: “Zoppe: An Italian Family Circus Since 1842” performs on the West Lawn of the Chandler Center for the Performing Arts through Jan 2, 2011 (even on New Year’s Eve). “Diavolo”– a group of dancers trained in ballet, modern dance, martial arts and acrobatics — comes to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Fri, Jan 28, 2011. “The New Shanghai Circus,” a troupe from China specializing in acrobatic performance art, comes to the Higley Center for the Performing Arts Tues, Jan 25, 2011.

Coming up: More family fun for New Year’s Eve

Update from ASA: “Congratulations to ASA students Zoe Bargas, Alina Chenausky, Halle Nelson, Cassi Parker-Swenson, and Sienna Willis. They will be performing the Pied Piper Fantasie with the Phoenix Symphony this weekend. Come out and support them Saturday January 8th at 8:00pm. For more information on tickets, check out the Phoenix Symphony website.”

Orpheum welcomes Broadway ala Theater League

I recently stumbled on a brochure for Theater League while at the Ticketmaster box office in downtown Phoenix picking up tickets for the Arizona School for the Arts 2010 Showcase. 

Chorus Line lapel pin

Theater League is a Kansas City-based “not-for-profit, tax-exempt, community-based performing arts organization dedicated to the development of professional legitimate theater, both as a cultural and an educational resource.” 

The League’s “constituent communities” include Mesa and Phoenix, Santa Barbara and Thousand Oaks (California), South Bend (Indiana), Toledo (Ohio) and Wichita (Kansas). 

Their 2010-2011 Broadway Series at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix will include four productions: 

The Color Purple—described by Theater League as “a moving tribute to the power of hope over adversity.” It’s based on Alice Walker’s novel and the Steven Spielberg film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. The musical recounts Celie’s struggle to overcome the oppression of the segregated South to find her beloved sister Nettie and reunite with her children. Oct 14-17, 2010. 

Spamalot 'Killer Bunny Puppet'

Cirque Dreams Illumination—described as “a fascinating journey into the depths of a city that ignites with imagination, suspense and theatrical innovation.” The performance features “brilliant costumes, hair-raising feats of skill and side-splitting comedy” (which sounds remarkably similar to a typical day in ‘toddler town’). Nov. 11-14, 2010.

A Chorus Line—described as “the show that introduced the world to those chorus line dancers whose hopes and dreams make the Broadway musical possible.” It features a score by Marvin Hamlisch, and has earned numerous awards (including the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize). Jan 13-16, 2011. (It’s a must for anyone seriously considering ‘show biz’ as a lifestyle choice.) 

Chorus Line coffee mug (or shotglass?)

Monty Python’s Spamalot—described as “the outrageous new musical comedy lovingly ripped off from the film classic ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’” It follows the adventures of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they seek the vessel believed to have been used by Jesus at the “Last Supper” with his followers, and features “flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen” and more. Feb 17-20, 2011

Theater League shares that their presentations include “the top national touring companies of all the major Broadway musicals of the last twenty-five years.”

“In addition,” they note, “the League’s own in-house producing division mounts annual revivals of classic Broadway fare featuring stars of stage, screen and television.”

One of several Spamalot buttons

The Orpheum Theatre Broadway Series is sponsored by Wyndham Phoenix, and both season and individual tickets are available. 

Season ticket holders receive one free parking pass for each show (for the Wells Fargo Parking Garage adjacent to the Orpheum Theatre), first choice of seating (before tickets go on sale to the public), a Theater League membership card (good for select discounts at other Valley theaters as well as special dining deals), and ticket exchange opportunities. 

I’ve long been a season ticket holder for the ASU Gammage Broadway Series, and find season ticket holder benefits—including easy replacement of lost tickets and opportunities to upgrade seats as needed—invaluable. 

Folks who order season tickets and become a Theater League member by June 15 will automatically be entered in their “New York Sweepstakes.” The sweepstakes winner will enjoy round trip airfare for a trip for two to NYC, including two nights hotel accommodations and two “VIP tickets” to a Broadway show. 

One of many Chorus Line posters

You can learn more about all things Theater League—including their education and outreach programs—by visiting them online at www.theaterleague.com

At this point I’m really left with only one burning question… 

Are these the folks who brought “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” to town with my childhood crush (Donny Osmond) all those years ago? 

"Every Little Step" film

If so, please let Donny know how very proud I am of his mirror ball trophy and that I’ll be first in line should he ever decide to reprise his ‘dreamboat in a dreamcoat’ gig. 


Note: Photos depict items available from the online Playbill store at www.playbillstore.com. It’s among our favorite places to shop for our very own Broadway baby, who hopes the birthday fairy comes through next week with a CD of the “American Idiot” cast recording.

Coming up: Diverse summer offerings from Phoenix Theatre–including master classes, theater camps, summer of dance program, workshops with Valley theater professionals and more

There’s an award for that!

A week ago Monday, protestors took to the Arizona state capitol to protest immigration-related legislation—but the governor wasn’t there to witness the gathering.

David and Sonja Faeroy Saar (center) attend 2010 Governor's Arts Awards

She was already scheduled to appear at the 28th annual Governor’s Arts Awards, held at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix—an event presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Office of the Governor.

I spoke with a Valley artist attending the event that evening, who felt it a bit odd to be celebrating Arizona arts with the governor at a time when so many sectors of our community—including education, health care and the arts—feel ravaged by state budget cuts.

Still, it’s important to recognize the achievements of Valley artists and arts supporters. Now, more than ever, their work matters. I was especially proud that my 16-year old daughter Lizabeth was there, performing with Greasepaint Youtheatre.

She had strict orders to bring me a program and note names of the 2010 winners so I could pass the info along to you.

Dean Osborne performs at the Grand Canyon Music Festival

Here’s the happy news:

• Composer James DeMars of Tempe, a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, received the Artist Award

• Preservationist Elisabeth Ruffner of Prescott, received the Individual Award

• Arts advocate Shirley Chann of Tucson, received the Shelley Arts Advocate Award

• The Grand Canyon Music Festival received the Education Award

Bank of America received the Business Award

The Drawing Studio in Tucson received the Community Award

Art for Kids Project at Webb Center

If you know of a deserving volunteer, artist, advocate, arts organization or business, there are plenty of other awards out there. Consider nominating/voting for the artists and arts lovers in your life if they’re eligible for the following…

• Arizona Central’s “Best” Poll. Vote on nominees online before tomorrow’s (April 28) deadline. Categories include art gallery, annual arts festival/event, regional arts center, theater company, live theater venue, museum, musical festival/event and more.

AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence. Nominations for two awards are being accepted through August 15, 2010. The “Outstanding Contribution Award” honors someone within the theater community and the “Distinguished Service Award” honors an individual, corporation or organization outside the theater community.

• Business in the Arts Awards. Nominations now being accepted for awards to be presented at the August 18, 2010 “New Artitude” event presented by Wells Fargo. Categories include large business partner, mid-size business partner, small business partner, arts organization, arts advocate, arts board member and special business volunteer.

Detour Company Theatre

Two other nifty bits of news in the arts award department…

Arizona Theatre Company’s own Latino Playwriting Award-Winner, “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” by Kristoffer Diaz, was honored as a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (The Pulitzer was awarded to “Next to Normal” by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey—which will tour, beginning in November, with stops in Los Angeles and San Diego).

• Eight’s Third Annual Be More Awards™ will be announced at a May 20, 2010 luncheon and awards ceremony at Eight’s downtown Phoenix studios. Nominated arts organizations include the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts, Rosie’s House and Valley Youth Theatre (for the “Be More Creative” award recognizing achievement in arts and culture) and Detour Company Theatre (for the “Be More Encouraged” judges’ choice award).

Rosie's House Music Academy

As always, I welcome your input if there are additional resources not included here. Please let me know of other award opportunities in the comment section below so our readers will have even more ways to recognize the artists, advocates and other arts leaders in our communities. There’s only one rule around here: Be nice.


NEW FEATURE! Watch for “Today’s Tidbits” at the end of Monday-Thursday posts so you’ll know of arts experiences you can enjoy during the week with your family or friends. Look for weekend arts events in Friday “Stage Mom” posts. More arts and other family-friendly activities are available every day at Raising Arizona Kids’ online calendar thanks to our amazing calendar editor Mala Blomquist.

Today’s Tidbits: ASU Theatre and Film presents their “5th Annual Student Film Fest” featuring both showcase and competitive formats at 7:30pm at Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe (info at 480-965-6447 or www.theatrefilm.asu.edu) • Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a free CGCC Community Choir and Orchestra Concert at 7pm (info at 480-732-7343) • Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe presents local author Tom Leveen with his debut teen novel “Party” at 7pm (info at www.changinghands.com) • Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents “Talk Cinema: Sneak Preview #7” featuring a film that “depicts the aspirations of all immigrants and the fulfillment of the American dream” followed by a moderated conversation with experts (tickets are $20; info at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org). If you have a visual or performing arts event to share, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com. Calendar items can be submitted online.

We’re not dead…

I’ve got plenty of ideas for books I’d like to write. One of my earliest came soon after the launch of e-mail, when I discovered the fun of writing subject lines as thoughtfully as e-mail content.

I was reminded the other day, after receiving an intriguing e-mail from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, of how much I’d like to compile a book of e-mail subject lines.

Here’s what it said: “We’re not dead.”

I’d never suspected otherwise, but was intrigued nonetheless. That’s what a good subject line, your own personal version of a headline, can do.

The e-mail itself opened with the following quote from Mark Twain: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Then came the “Bring Out Your Dead” video clip from the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Because despite horrific (my word) state budget cuts impacting the arts (not to mention education, health and human services), the commission will continue working towards their vision for Arizona:

Photo by Christopher Trimble

  • All Arizonans have access to quality arts and cultural activities
  • Residents working in the arts make healthy livable wages
  • All students have access to quality arts education in schools
  • Arts and cultural programs partner with other revitalization efforts
  • Innovative businesses choose Arizona for its cultural vibrancy

As part of its 2010-2015 strategic planning process, dubbed “Building an Artistic Future for Arizona,” the commission is gathering input and ideas through targeted surveys, interview, focus groups and listening sessions.

To participate in an upcoming listening session, send required info to the commission by e-mail at least five days prior to the event. Remaining sessions include:

  • Flagstaff: Thursday, April 13 from 5:30pm-7pm
  • Tubac: Wednesday, April 21 from 5:30pm to 7pm
  • Mesa: Thursday, April 29 from 5:30pm-7pm

If you’re not receiving the commission’s “Arts Learning Newsletter,” the folks who do know a whole lot more about some pretty important things. I’ll give you a few tidbits here, but you really should sign up to be sure you get every detail in all its glory…

  • Arts in Crisis Tour. Community forum with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser, coming to Tucson and Phoenix on April 12. Free/open to public.
  • Governor’s Arts Awards. Joint event of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Arizona Commission on the Arts and Office of the Governor, coming to the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix on April 19. Ticket required.
  • Joint Arts Education Conference. Event for arts educators, administrators and teaching artists, coming to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix July 29-30. Registration required.

There’s more—notices of new publications (on topics like integration of multiple media as the new hallmark of literacy), current research (on topics like art’s role in academic and professional success), upcoming workshops (including “Drawing From Within: An Exploration of Arts Therapy” on April 8 at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts), resources (on topics like out-of-school arts learning) and funding.

Finally, the April arts learning newsletter describes several opportunities—including a call by VSA for teaching artists with disabilities, an interactive presentation at ASU Gammage about careers in arts administration, an arts-related student employment program and a poster contest seeking student submissions.

Nope. The Arizona Commission on the Arts is clearly not dead—and I think we’d all feel at least a little more alive by spending more time with their people and their programs.


Photo by Christopher Trimble

Note: The ASU School of Theatre and Film in Tempe presents social activist and writer Arlene Goldbard, campaigning to create cultural recovery for the U.S.,  April 6 from 4-5:30pm at the ASU Lyceum Theatre. Her p.a.v.e. talk–titled “Achieving creative potential through cultural development”–is free and open to the public. Learn more about Goldbard at www.arlenegoldbard.com.

Photo (above, right) by Christopher Trimble depicts Chihuly’s “Desert Towers” at the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. To learn how you can help the “Tower to the People” campaign to secure the sculpture for permanent exhibition in the garden, visit dbg.org.