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MJLO

Performing Arts

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Is there a big arts culture in AZ? Symphonies, Local Theatre companies. Renown international ballet troupes? Anything? There has to be alot going on In Phoenix 4million people in the metro area. Alot of them with $ to burn. Alot of them pretentious as hell. I would think that there would be a huge or at least fast growing arts community. I'm not just talking galleries in Tempe. I know there has to be something. How come I never hear about them?

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I didn't know that you were such a connoisseur of the arts, Matt. Especially the ballet. ;)

Well, there used to be a weekly Art Crawl at the galleries on Van Buren, but I don't know if they do that anymore (I never went to one though). The only other galleries that I know of in the Valley are in Old Town Scottsdale, but don't bother setting foot inside one of those unless you have a Benjamin taped to your forehead, or have a car worth more than my annual salary.

Edit: Oh, and I forgot that there's another art cluster along Grand Avenue in the old, nasty warehouse district. They have functions there sometimes. Just read the New Times!

Phoenix has a couple of excellent museums: The Heard and the Mesa Southwest. The Botanical Gardens is also one of the top-rated in the nation.

I'm sure that Phoenix has a symphony, although I don't particularly like the symphony so I couldn't tell you anything about it.

Per theater, Tucson has two venues, and they're both pretty awful. I've never been to Centennial Hall (UA Campus), but I saw "Les Miserables" at the TCC earlier this year, and midway through the show the whole place starts smelling like sh*t. And not sh*t like someone farted, but like raw sewage. I thought it was pretty funny.

Any thoughts on the local music scene?

From what I know of Phoenix, there's basically nothing. The East Valley had its emo craze in the 90's that bands like Jimmy Eat World, The Format and Gin Blossoms came out of, but it seems to have completely dried up there. There was a sort of synth-pop Kraftwerk-esque band from Phoenix who came through here some time ago, but I missed them (I think because they were playing with some other band that I hated).

Tucson is much better for that, I think. The bands here aren't always the greatest, but at least they're interesting and are actually doing something unique. Plus, they always have a lot of local support.

Unfortunately though, most Arizona music seems to be metal. But why? We live in such a beautiful place, so why create such awful music? Maybe crystal meth is just so much more popular than pot here that people are just generally angrier?

I mean, Arizona's most famous musicians are Stevie Nicks and Michelle Branch, and strangely enough, they're both from Sedona. I don't get it.

If you are looking for Arizona music, check out Calexico (if you haven't already heard of them). Wonderful stuff, and very indicative of the Southwest (plus, they still live here!).

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I didn't know that you were such a connoisseur of the arts, Matt. Especially the ballet. ;)

Well, there used to be a weekly Art Crawl at the galleries on Van Buren, but I don't know if they do that anymore (I never went to one though). The only other galleries that I know of in the Valley are in Old Town Scottsdale, but don't bother setting foot inside one of those unless you have a Benjamin taped to your forehead, or have a car worth more than my annual salary.

Edit: Oh, and I forgot that there's another art cluster along Grand Avenue in the old, nasty warehouse district. They have functions there sometimes. Just read the New Times!

Phoenix has a couple of excellent museums: The Heard and the Mesa Southwest. The Botanical Gardens is also one of the top-rated in the nation.

I'm sure that Phoenix has a symphony, although I don't particularly like the symphony so I couldn't tell you anything about it.

Yes the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, which even Tucsonans admit is better than the TSO or SASO.

I wouldn't know.

Per theater, Tucson has two venues, and they're both pretty awful. I've never been to Centennial Hall (UA Campus), but I saw "Les Miserables" at the TCC earlier this year, and midway through the show the whole place starts smelling like sh*t. And not sh*t like someone farted, but like raw sewage. I thought it was pretty funny.

You haven't been to The Temple of Music and Art on Scott? Check it out! It is where the state's professional theater company ATC used to be ( is ?? ) headquartered. Old 1920's theater, not quite as cool as the Fox, but still cool.

It has a nice little intimate plaza. This is the only photo I could find, doesn't show much:

http://www.pbase.com/bearpaw/image/23185122

It's a small theater, but real nice. It was restored around 1990, hope it hasn't gone to dis-repair.

Centennial Hall is nice but just too big, and the floor layout is flat, so sightlines suck toward the back. . I was in TCC music hall once, it didn't smell but I can't say much good about it, just like the rest of the TCC.

Tucson used to have a hip little Arts district ( Congress and surrounding area), with a few art galleries, coffee houses, and ecletic little shops selling antiques and whatnot. Twice a month the area stayed open late and street vendors/performers would set up around the bus station and sidestreets. They stopped having those "Downtown Saturday NIghts", the arts district is gone, it has become an "entertainment district" from what I read. The artists are all in warehouses to the North, which maybe will be the future Arts district, if it is not already.

Update!: That link I posted has thumbnails of lots of historic structures. Notice a few parts of the El Con hotel were saved ( page 2) .

http://www.pbase.com/bearpaw/historic_tucson

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Colin I have heard of Calexico, but only because I heard their music in a Don Roos movie.

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Sorry, Erin, you're right, I'm not much into the theater and was only thinking about touring stuff.

You're right, ATC is still active and performing at the Temple. We have a few other small theater companies in town: Gaslight, Live Theater Workshop and Top Hat (that last one is not a burlesque show despite the name). I've been to the latter two, but only because I knew someone involved in it. They're all very small, but sometimes run original shows.

The arts district is still along Broadway, and there are almost always public shows. The contemporary art museum is in that area somewhere, as well. However, per coffee houses, it's now coffee house: I forget the name now, but the coffee house that doubled as a theater on Congress between Sixth and Scott shut down over a year ago and is now nothing. We still have Cafe Quebec, although it's changed its name to Shot in the Dark Cafe (yuk!). I guess you could call The Cup (Hotel Congress) a coffee house though, but I think of it more as a cafe.

There are also some obscure movie theaters: the Fox is now back thanks to Rio Nuevo (also doubles for an upscale live music venue), La Placita shows movies each week and there's the "Screening Room" on Congress that's usually only open during one of Tucson's two annual film festivals.

Downtown Saturday Nights ran again randomly late last year, but the organization doing it ran out of money. They didn't get a huge turn-out at the last one, but the rain was threatening.

Per El Conquistador, it's really strange where they put that dome. Something else cannabalized from the hotel exists around town. It's mentioned in the Tucson architecture book's section on it.

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Phoenix has an ok arts scene. Compared to most cities, its a little lackluster, but we manage for a major city in the US. Our symphony is better than most, though still not rivaling Boston or New York. Ballet Arizona is very good, you should see one of their shows and there is also the professional opera troupe.

Most national musicals/ballets/performances go to the ASU Gammage theatre, you can see about 10-12 shows each year, and big names like Wicked, Phantom, Les Mis, Barrage, Doubt, etc.

Scottsdale is the area for art galleries, highest per capita. SMoCA is also very good, and is becoming pretty famous outside of Arizona. Its revenue and traffic increased greatly this year, hitting a history high.

Youth productions are also great. The Phoenix Thespians are one of the best musical performances. A local theatre put on one of the most outstanding youth performances of Les Mis, and it got some national coverage. The Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra has been named one of the top 5 youth orchestras in the country based on live performances, record sales, and difficulty of repertoire. The Phoenix Boys Choir has won multiple Grammys and is internationally renowned.

In Scottsdale, there are several coffee spots/comic clubs where local and national comedians come to perform small/medium-sized shows.

I think in general, compared to other major cities, we have a decent arts/cultural scene.

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Id love to see or hear the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. Im not very aware of them. The Detroit Symphony is among the best in the world. Since that is my hometown, I'm most firmiliar with the DSO. I have seen them Boston, NY and San Franciscos. I am interested to see how they would stack up.

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