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Phoenix Center for the Arts has partnered with The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Roosevelt Row CDC, and State Representative Ken Clark to present Spirit of the Arts, a truly unique fundraiser that seeks 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 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Henschen.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Henschen.

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. Proceeds from the auction of these art works will be used towards the improvement of the building. Participating artists include Oliverio Balcells, Curt Condrat, Ingrid Donaldson, Greg Esser, Cynthia Flores de Zarza, Kay Grams, Lauren Henschen, Kristine Kollasch, Bob Martin, Hugo Medina, Rick Naimark, Kat Perez, Fred Ullrich Jr., and Denise Yaghmaourian. Event tickets cost $75 each and can be purchased by visitingphoenixcenterforthearts.org/spirit. VIP tickets are available for $125. All tickets include complimentary beverage tickets.

The evening’s festivities include rum samples, live music, art, silent auction, raffle, delicious food from Paz Cantina and Fair Trade Cafe, beer and wine, and theArizona Storytellers Project, emceed by Rachel Egboro with storytellers Dwayne Allen, Mari Giddings, Dan Hull, and Pnina Levine.

Since 2011, the Arizona Storytellers Project has been dedicated to the idea that oral storytelling and journalism have the same goals: serving and reflecting a community while fostering empathy among those people. These nights blend the authenticity and hype-free discipline of storytelling as an art form, with the truthfulness, community-building and empowerment.

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. 

Phoenix Center for the Arts. Photo courtesy of Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Phoenix Center for the Arts. Photo courtesy: Phoenix Center for the Arts.

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.”