Early this morning Actors Theatre (ATOP) announced the sad news of its closure. “The simple truth is that the company is out of money,” says a letter sent to supporters.
Operations will cease and assets will be liquidated over the next couple of months. Planned productions of Annapurna, Stage Kiss and The Year of Magical Thinking are cancelled, and ATOP won’t be able to afford to refund tickets. “We’re hoping that our patrons and supporters will consider taking the expense as a tax deduction,” says the company.
Actor Theatre has teetered on the brink for the past few years, sending out several pleas for help and reorganizing. Despite drastic cost-cutting measures — ending its resident company status at the Herberger Theater Center, downsizing administration to two full-time employees, and operating on a shoestring budget — ATOP maintained its high production quality, offering powerful shows with minimal stage dressing.
Organizations including Arizona Opera, Phoenix Theatre and Black Theatre Troupe provided support and venue assistance, while a devoted audience base continued to offer encouragement to the struggling company.
In the end, it just wasn’t enough. ATOP’s board unanimously voted to close, and will work with Managing Director Erica Black and Producing Artistic Director Matthew Wiener to wrap up business.
Wiener spent nearly 20 years leading the troupe after coming from a four-year stint as Arizona Theatre Company’s associate artistic director in the early 1990s.
Actors Theatre’s legacy includes almost 29 years of great productions, which often emphasized the company’s dedication to working with talented local actors.
“Among our strongest guiding principles is to pay everyone — and that includes artists and arts workers — a living wage,” said ATOP’s announcement. “…But our donor base and individual and season ticket sales were not substantial enough to provide the financial resources to support the cost structure of professional artists….”
Never afraid to present work written by less-famous playwrights, ATOP took pride in kindling thoughtful conversation and inciting visceral reactions in audiences. The company will be missed.
Whether you prefer to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit or rebel against the trappings of the season, you’ll find your fun downtown with a few of Phoenix’s quirkier activities. Adults-only theater pushes the envelope with A Bloody Mary Christmas while unique Christmas light tours appeal to all ages, and puppetry and dance shows keep kids jolly.
Ballet Arizona offers the usual fairies and sugarplums at Symphony Hall with its spectacular, highly acclaimed production of The Nutcracker (through December 28), reinvented a few years ago by artistic director Ib Andersen. Tchaikovsky’s familiar music performed by The Phoenix Symphony can’t be beat, and a family four-pack includes parking, premium seats, a photo with the Sugarplum Fairy and hot cocoa.
If you prefer the music of a different Russian, try Snow Queen at Herberger Theater Center’s Stage West (through Dec. 21), choreographed by Frances Smith Cohen and presented by Center Dance Ensemble. Hans Christian Andersen’s tale comes to life with melodies by Sergei Prokofiev. Take a midday work break, buy or bring your lunch, and sample the Lunch Time Dance Theater option for only $6.
In addition to the occasional wickedly subversive 18+ puppet slam, Great Arizona Puppet Theater provides a steady stream of funny shows for children young and old. The Night Before Christmas (through December 28) features joyful music and stories.
For those who love cinema, FilmBar offers a glorious month full of movies in an intimate 70-seat venue with the added bonus of a beer and wine bar (alcohol with popcorn — what could be better?). December’s options include The Captive, The Babadook, Bad Santa and Free the Nipple (both on the Naughty & Nice Film Series), Awake: The Life of Yogananda, and the incomparable Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Foreign films include Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (El ángel exterminador) and Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le metro as a double feature. And don’t miss Opera at FilmBar — December 19 brings Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, starring a sparkling Joyce DiDonato and the yummy Juan Diego Flórez.
The calendar’s packed at Crescent Ballroom, where Cocina 10’s food and drink are complemented by the stories of Chow Bella’s Eating Christmas (December 16). For a canned food donation you’ll hear food-themed tales of holiday adventure (for ages 21 and older). Otherwise, try “Life’s a Drag. Party Like a Queen” (December 18) with interactive games, “Truth, Drag or Dare,” and drink specials all hosted by Olivia Gardens.
Phoenix Theatre serves a full plate of seasonal cheer with Holiday Classics From Screen to Stage (December 18-21), when Arizona Opera singers croon holiday favorites from films like Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Love Actually, A Charlie Brown Christmas and more. Vocalist Dennis Rowland takes the stage with the Greg Warner Project and special guest Diana Lee for the Holiday Jazz Cabaret (December 22-24) and a range of Christmas classics. And you’re sure to have a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins (through December 28), an eye-popping fast-paced feast of color, song, dance, and special effects including Valley favorite Toby Yatso as a tap-dancing, levitating chimney sweep.
Back in the realm of adults-only entertainment, Space 55 pulls out all the stops for the fifth year of A Bloody Mary Christmas (through December 21), in which Sun City retirees sing, dance, and battle a heartless homeowners’ association. Set to original music by Dangerville and Samson Says, Bloody Mary showcases Toni Jourdan, Lee Quarrie, Paula McKenny and Bob Peters. 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe (December 20) gives local performers their seven minutes in the sun with an opportunity to do whatever they want — interpretive dance, dinosaur burlesque, competitive doughnut eating, action figure battles…even naked stage magic. Who knows what you’ll see?
Other Space 55 shows include Storyline: A Winter’s Tale (December 19), part of a monthly storytelling showcase, and Resolutions! A new show for an old year (December 31), a good warm-up for your New Year’s Eve party or downtown’s Flannel Ball.
“Hip Historian” Marshall Shore brings a big yellow school bus to The Clarendon Hotel as the launch point for his Christmas Lights Tours (December 16, 18 & 23). “We cruise through Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa,” says Shore. “I curate for the most jaw-dropping displays that I can locate.” Join in the caroling and live music with your very own kazoo (provided), or sit back and enjoy Shore’s talents as a storyteller while you see commercial, private home and religious displays.
If you go:
- Ballet Arizona: The Nutcracker (through December 28)
- Center Dance Ensemble: Snow Queen (through December 21)
- at Herberger Theater Center’s Stage West, 222 E. Monroe
- visit centerdance.com or call 602-252-8497
- Great Arizona Puppet Theater: The Night Before Christmas (through December 28)
- in the GAPT’s lovely renovated historic 1929 LDS 2nd Ward Church, 302 W. Latham
- visit azpuppets.org or call 602-262-2050
- 815 N. 2nd St.
- visit thefilmbarphx.com or call 602-595-9187
- Crescent Ballroom and Cocina 10
- 308 N. 2nd Ave.
- visit crescentphx.com or call 602-716-2222
- Phoenix Theatre
- 100 E. McDowell Rd.
- visit phoenixtheatre.com or call 602-254-2151
- Space 55
- 636 E. Pierce St.
- visit space55.org
- “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore: Christmas Lights Tours (December 16, 18 & 23)
Schedules are subject to change. For more holiday diversions visit DowntownPhoenix.com:
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Phoenix Festival of the Arts Announces Entertainment
Third annual event takes Downtown by storm December 12-14, 2014
Phoenix Center for the Arts presents the third annual Phoenix Festival of the Arts, sponsored in part by APS and Lou & Evelyn Grubb. Phoenix Festival of the Arts takes place in the heart of Downtown Phoenix at Margaret T. Hance Park, December 12-14, 2014.
Phoenix Festival of the Arts packs three full days with live arts and entertainment, plus over 125 vendor booths! Those wishing to express their inner artist can get their feet wet with The Phoenix Mural a hands-on community art project organized by acclaimed local muralist and Valley favorite, Hugo Medina.
One very unique aspect of this year’s Festival is the addition of several mini festivals, taking place within the Phoenix Center for the Arts Third Street Theater, adjacent to the Festival ground.
Dance, Dance Saturday – Saturday, December 14, 1:00pm-4:00pm
Description: Dance, Dance Saturday showcases several local dance companies as well as young performers from local schools. This performance unites up-and-coming dancers with professionals, together on one stage!
Phoenix Film Festival Presents “Netherbeast Incorporated” – Saturday, December 14, 5:00-8:00pm
Description: Netherbeast Incorporated is a locally made feature that was a big hit at the 2014 Phoenix Film Festival! It was developed based on a short film that will be shown before the film, meanwhile one of the producers/writers will be in attendance and possibly some of the cast.
Infuse – Open Mic – Sunday, December 15. Sign-up at 5:30pm. Showtime 6:00-9:00pm.
Description: Infuse – Open Mic is the Valley’s most diverse open mic. Love, respect, and encouraging community growth are experienced by all through the heartfelt expression of each artist’s performance.
Phoenix Festival of the Arts Poetry Slam – Sunday, December 15, 2:00pm-5:00pm
Description: For the third year in a row the Phoenix Festival of the Arts Poetry Slam will enlighten and entertain as Arizona’s best slam poets come to compete for cash prizes!
Festival attendees can grab a bite from one of several local food trucks, then sit back, relax, and catch some tunes at the Festival’s beer and wine garden presented by Hensley Beverage Company. Participating food vendors include: Waldo’s BBQ, Spice It Up, The Roasted Shallot, Paletas Betty, Mamma Toledo’s, Comfort Cravings Gourmet Food Truck, Cactus Corn, Cold Stone Creamery, Satay Hut, 2 Fat Guys Grilled Cheese, United Steaks of Cheese, and Short Leash Hot Dogs!
3:15pm – 4:00pm – Keli Rutledge
4:20pm – 5:20pm – Scott Baker
5:40pm – 6:40pm – Shaye Jennings
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Lee Perreira
10:00am – 12:00pm – AZ Music Project – Variety Show
12:10pm – 12:50pm – Phoenix Children’s Chorus
1:00pm – 2:00pm – Levi Waskom
2:10pm – 2:40pm – Flamenco del Sol – Spanish Ole’
3:00pm – 4:00pm – The Blue Goats
4:20pm – 5:20pm – Adam Smith
5:40pm – 6:40pm – Banana Gun
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Captain Squeegee
10:00am – 11:00am – Rock n’ Roll High School
11:10am – 11:50am – Desert Sounds Mariachi
12:00am – 1:00pm – India Showcase
1:20pm – 2:20pm – Donald Harrington
2:40pm – 3:40pm – Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers
4:00pm – 5:00pm – Japhy’s Descent
Five main components of the event:
• Art vendors, who will be selling locally made original art.
• Participation of Valley arts and cultural organizations, small and large.
• Performances from poetry, choirs, dance, hip-hop, symphony, and folk.
• Family Zone, which will be a hands-on area for the youth to discover and play with art.
• Delicious food from local food trucks and beverages provided by Hensley.
If you go:
Event: The Third Annual Phoenix Festival of the Arts
Dates: December 12-14, 2014
Hours: Friday, December 12 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, December 13 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, December 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Anticipated Attendance: 10,000
Where: Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix AZ 85004
Parking/Transportation: Limited public parking available in the Phoenix Center for the Arts parking lot (enter from 3rd Street, just North of Moreland). Street parking is also available on 1st and 2nd streets, as well as Moreland. Avoid the hassle and take METRO Light Rail to the McDowell/Central Ave or Roosevelt/Central Ave. Bike racks are also available.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Get Your PHX and Phoenix Public Market present the 5th Annual Phoestivus Market
Two Nights of Open Air Markets and Special Events to Promote Local Holiday Shopping
Phoestivus will be returning once again for two fun Wednesday evenings of holiday cheer on December 10 and 17, 2014 from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm at 14 E. Pierce Street in Downtown Phoenix.
Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase unique gifts from 130 local vendors. The event will also feature food trucks, the World’s Largest Phoestivus Pole (“as far as we know”), Pheats of Strength, Airing of Grievances, holiday entertainment, and much more. Last year’s Phoestivus event saw over 2000 attendees on each of the two nights!
Bring your friends and family to enjoy dinner from the food trucks, as well as food and cocktails from the Phoenix Public Market Café including the always popular Phoestivus Ale from Phoenix Ale Brewery. Ruby Ride will also be available for transportation to and from the event by calling 602-615-0739.
“We put this event together every year as a way to support locally-owned businesses and to support healthy food through the Phoenix Public Market. It’s also a great way to celebrate our community and just act like Phoestivus-lovin’ goofballs for a couple nights,” said Phoestivus Bürgermeister, Ken Clark.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Phoenix Public Market, a program of Community Food Connections, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
“We are happy to host the Phoestivus Market for the fifth year in a row”, said Dan Klocke, Community Food Connections board member. “Our mission is to create a downtown community gathering place that supports local, small farmers and businesses to strengthen our community. It’s particularly important to promote the message of supporting local businesses as people shop for holiday gifts.”
Event sponsors include: REALTOR Ken Clark, Community Food Connections, Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Ruby Ride, SRP, Blue Sky Airport Parking, Sunbelt Rentals, Core Crossfit, Phoenix New Times, CenPho.com, Oasis on Grand, CO+HOOTS, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Bookmans, Local First Arizona, Roosevelt Row, Best in Show Management, and Yelp.
There’s a common story that unfolds in cities and towns again and again. Artists looking for cheap rent and spaces to work, move into neglected, transitional areas of town. Their presence and impact begins to transform the area and everything surrounding it. Once scary parts of town become trendy and desirable, and real estate prices begin to rise. The next thing you know, the artists are forced to move elsewhere to find affordable space. And so it goes.
As the vitality of our urban core grows and gathers strength, the desire to live and work here is increasing. How do we nurture growth and density, yet continue to support and embrace artists? One way, is to make sure that there is affordable space for them to continue to live and create in the very neighborhoods that they helped transform.
Artspace is a uniquely successful nonprofit real estate developer whose entire mission is dedicated to creating, fostering and preserving affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations. For three decades they’ve pioneered and built affordable housing for artists. They’ve seen how these projects have advanced public agendas, from job creation, to transit-oriented development, historic preservation and community stabilization and they’ve created a successful process for working with communities that includes a preliminary feasibility visit, an arts market survey, leading to the potential of predevelopment planning or customized consulting.
Because of Artspace’s very specific development experience, the City of Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture, along with Downtown Phoenix, Inc., JP Morgan Chase, Arizona Community Foundation and Arizona Forward invited the Artspace team to Phoenix for a preliminary feasibility visit. On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, Wendy Holmes, Sr. Vice President, Consulting & Strategic Partnerships and and Stacey L. Mickelson, Vice President of Government Relations conducted focus groups with artists, representatives from arts organizations, and the public to learn about the specifics of our community, including the success of the locally-developed Oasis on Grand project in the Grand Avenue Arts District, and begin to suss out additional opportunities for creating sustainable, affordable spaces for artists and arts organization in downtown Phoenix.
“We are pleased that so many people from our arts community turned out for the ArtSpace presentations last week,” said Gail Browne, executive director of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. “Clearly there is a great need for affordable live/work housing for artists in Phoenix.”
To date, Artspace has completed 36 projects in over 14 states, and they are in development on several more, including one in Mesa and another in Avondale. Many of their developments have been adaptive reuse projects. Some are combinations of old and new build elements, while others are all new builds. They are scattered in small and large cities throughout the country and many were built to accommodate artists and their families and include multiple two-and three-bedroom units.
“An Artspace project in Phoenix would provide affordable housing to the creative community, which is sorely needed,” said Diane Brossart, president & ceo of Arizona Forward, a nonprofit partner in bringing Artspace to Phoenix. “Artspace has a track record of creating sustainable projects across the country that stand the test of time – they are sustainable live/work environments that support the arts community.”
Most of the Artspace projects combine housing and studio or rehearsal space for artists with community spaces for performances and exhibitions, spaces for arts organizations, or spaces for small commercial enterprises. Holmes points out that “these businesses can be arts-related, or they can be simply arts-compatible.” One example she noted was a project with artist housing, studio spaces, and commercial spaces, including a daycare business. Not an arts business, but definitely arts-compatible.
This notion of a business being arts-compatible is worth thinking harder about as we plan how we want our downtown to grow. What elements work together and truly support the downtown we want, and which are at cross-purposes? And where do artists fit into the mix?
As the Roosevelt Row area has witnessed in recent months, there are strong feelings about what kind of development will be compatible with the lively artistic vibe of the area. Everyone who has invested in this neighborhood is passionate about what should be built on the shoulders of the artists who’ve spent a couple of decades making it their home. Will it nurture the artists in the area, or make it impossible for them to continue to live there? Whatever comes of the debate being waged over development on 2nd Street, the tensions and the passions are part of the growing pains of a city in the process of transforming itself, and not just in the Roosevelt Row Arts Distric, but in downtown overall.
As we temporarily activate empty lots, adaptively reuse historic structures, celebrate new highrise apartment complexes, and loudly proclaim our longing for mixed-use development, the unique experience and expertise of Artspace may be able to help us effectively create and develop affordable spaces that will keep artists working their magic in the heart of our city. As the process proceeds, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the progress and opportunities.