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Spirit of the Arts
A Unique Community Project to Beautify Downtown
Phoenix Center for the Arts, in partnership with The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Roosevelt Row CDC, and State Representative Ken Clark, is excited to announce Spirit of the Arts, a fun and creative collaboration to repair and beautify one of the most visible buildings in Downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Center for the Arts. Spirit of the Arts will be held Saturday, August 15, from 6-9pm, at Phoenix Center for the Arts to raise funds for important building repairs in a very creative way.
Local and nationally acclaimed artists from all mediums have been commissioned to convert discarded rum bottles from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar into works of art. These works will then be auctioned at the Spirit of the Arts restoration gala. A portion of the proceeds will go directly towards the improvement of the building.
Over the past year, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar has collected hundreds of these rum bottles, which would have otherwise ended up as trash, to support this endeavor. “These bottles came from rum-producing regions all over the world, says The Breadfruit & Rum Bar Co-Owner, Dwayne Allen. “Each bottle has been carefully considered and crafted to embody the spirit its origin. These bottles have intrinsic value and can serve to inspire and delight just as they did when they were filled with rum. As they collect dust, their labels fade, they crack and chip from neglect. Similarly, the Phoenix Center for the Arts campus, though well-used and well-loved, is cracked, chipped, and faded. It deserves to be ‘dusted off’ and given a chance to shine as our front door to downtown Phoenix.”
Phoenix Center for the Arts is a non-profit operated City of Phoenix facility that borders Margaret T. Hance Park (also known as the Deck Park) on Third Street, just north of Roosevelt. The City acquired the campus – a former Baptist church – in 1975 when construction of Interstate 10 began. Since then, the facility has continued to serve thousands of Valley residents each and every year. The Center has truly blossomed in the past 4 years since “going nonprofit,” having grown by nearly 500% since 2011. Most recently, the buzz behind the new Hance Park Master Plan has increased the Center’s visibility and bolstered community awareness of Phoenix Center for the Arts’ role in shaping our local culture and arts community.
The southbound Third Street corridor has long been considered a major gateway to downtown Phoenix. It offers a magnificent view of the Downtown skyline that ushers motorist and pedestrians into the urban heart of the City of Phoenix, as well as the State of Arizona. One cannot help but notice the historic red brick building, which boasts a majestic staircase and monumental pillars. The mere sight of it conjures memories of downtown Phoenix in its formative years.
“Unfortunately, as it sits today, this great piece of our community’s history is in a state of relative disrepair, says State Representative, Ken Clark. “We are excited to work with community leaders to bring back the building’s original charm in support of arts in Arizona.” The building itself is 84 years old and has served the community as an Arts Center for nearly 40 years. In fact, the Spirit of the Arts event will serve as the first of many Anniversary events.
Joseph Benesh, Director of Phoenix Center for the Arts states: “This is about placemaking and historic preservation. Our objective is to return the Phoenix Center for the Arts facade to a state that accurately represents the value of its history, the importance it holds for our community today, and the potential it will possess in years to come.”
Spirit of the Art tickets cost $75 each and can be purchased by visiting phoenixcenterforthearts.org/spirit
For more information about Phoenix Center for the Arts, visit phoenixcenterforthearts.org or call 602-254-3100.
Look closely under the dust and construction of the Phoenix Center for the Arts and you might catch a glimpse of Joseph Benesh, the energizer bunny behind the Center’s growth as an arts and culture hub in Downtown Phoenix. As the new operations manager, he’s a man on a mission to raise awareness city-wide of this amazing Downtown arts resource.
Classes, Classes, Classes!
Located at 3rd Street and Moreland, (on the eastern end of Hance Park, just off of the I-10) the Phoenix Center for the Arts is run by the Phoenix Arts Association, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, in partnership with the City of Phoenix. Benesh was hired in August of 2011, just after the Phoenix Arts Association took over operation of the programs from the city.
Since 1976, the Phoenix Center for the Arts has been a cultural center in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, providing the citizens of Phoenix with “year-round opportunities to participate in the visual and performing arts through creative and affordable quality programming.” That means classes, lots and lots of classes!
“We have two students who’ve been taking classes at the Center for over 30 years, and recently one man who’d taken his first class 30 years ago has returned to take the same class, in the same classroom,” said Benesh.
Since Benesh was hired, class registrations have grown by 37%. Adults can participate in everything from painting and drawing to metals and jewelry, from ceramics, glass, and music, to printmaking and photography. Youth classes (for kids age 6 and up) cover music, dance, art, and theatre.
Connecting with Hance Park
The 33,000 sq. ft. facility includes a gallery; eight visual art studios; four rehearsal/class rooms; 16 office spaces; a large music/performance studio and a 216-seat theater.
The current renovation will create a brand new entryway for the Center on the north side of the building, making it the only building that opens directly onto Margaret T. Hance Park. The three-story entry, scheduled to be completed by May, will face the parking lot and provide a highly visible and accessible “way in” for people. Benesh is also a member of the Hance Park Conservancy Board and is actively involved in the redevelopment and rejuvenation of Hance Park.
Incubating the Arts
Benesh has been reaching out to small arts organizations to invite them to make the Center their home. He envisions making the Center an arts incubator, and providing the legitimacy and stability of a home for small arts organizations finding their legs.
“We can provide inexpensive office space, quality rehearsal and performance space, and the synergy of a network of other arts organizations to interact with, “ said Benesh.
Benesh is excited about the projects that he and his board are working on for the future, including purchasing a portable amphitheater for the eastern end of the park to be shared with local arts and culture organizations, using the $5.5M in bond funds to renovate the Center theater into a 600 to 700-seat house, and the inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts planned for next November. He envisions a weekend-long event, showcasing artists and arts organizations from throughout the Valley.
Visit the Center website for class schedules, or drop by on a First Friday, or during Art Detour in March to check out their gallery openings and performances.
Save the Date for Downtown Phoenix’s Premier Art Tour Event!
Art Detour 24 returns March 17 & 18! The free, two-day, self-guided tour of artist studios, art spaces, and other art venues in Downtown Phoenix promoted by Artlink, Inc. in cooperation with participating venues. Experience the creative spirit of the downtown arts community and save the date: March 17 & 18. Visit ArtlinkPhoenix.com.