The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts celebrates 40 years

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Celebrate with the stars during the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts 40th anniversary.

By Julie Carlson

Influential Afro-Cuban jazz pianist, composer, and arranger Chucho Valdes will perform a concert at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts as part of its 40th-anniversary celebration.

Scottsdale’s arts community has a lot to celebrate this year. Nestled within the vibrant park setting of the Civic Center Mall in the heart of Scottsdale’s Art District, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts has been electrifying audiences for 40 years.

“The center is known for the diversity and quality of its live performances, which span virtually every genre, including music, dance, theater, comedy, and film,” says Interim Director Ally Haynes-Hamblen.

Designed by notable Arizona architect, Bennie Gonzales, the center opened its doors in 1975. Gonzales also designed Scottsdale’s City Hall and the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix, among other well-known buildings and homes throughout the Valley. The center is owned by the City of Scottsdale, and since 1987, has been managed by the Scottsdale Cultural Council, a nonprofit organization devoted to advancing the arts in the community.

Since the center’s first spotlight lit up the stage on Oct. 23, 1975, for late country singer Roger Miller, the original King of the Road, the venue has been constantly evolving.

“Perhaps the most noticeable change has been the renovation of our atrium and theater, which was completed in 2009,” says Haynes-Hamblen. “In recent years we’ve greatly expanded our programming, including a new partnership with the Scottsdale International Film Festival, which opens this year on Nov. 5.”

The center also has two sister organizations––Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Scottsdale Public Art. Together they offer a wealth of arts experiences for Scottsdale’s residents and visitors within the 21-acre complex. Approximately 250,000 people walk through the center’s doors each year. Patrons can enjoy performances and festivals held at the 853-seat Virginia G. Piper Theater, the 137-seat Stage 2, and the neighboring 1,800-capacity Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater.

For the upcoming 2015/2016 Season, the center will celebrate its 40th Anniversary, including several special events. On Oct. 23, legendary Latin Grammy winner and Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes will bring the sounds of Havana to the concert hall with his Afro-jazz sound.

“We’re planning some wonderful surprises for our guests that evening, including a special red carpet experience,” says Haynes-Hamblen. “Also not to be missed is London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with violinist Pinchas Zuckerman on Jan. 16. Listening to that world-class orchestra in our theater will be an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Cultural Council will also host its annual ARTrageous Benefit Gala on Dec. 5, which features Tony and Emmy Award winner Martin Short. This is an event will celebrate a number of milestones: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts’ 40th Anniversary, Scottsdale Public Art’s 30th Anniversary, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s Sweet 16 and the 15th Scottsdale International Film Festival.

“People have so many choices when it comes to entertainment—especially with new technologies—but nothing compares to the thrill of experiencing a live performance, especially in our intimate, state-of-the-art theater,” says Haynes-Hamblen. “We truly offer something for everyone to enjoy.”

Ticket prices vary from $25–$149, for members and nonmembers, depending on performances. You can order tickets online, in person, over the phone, via mail, or fax. Gift cards and discounts are also available. The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is located at 7380 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale. Call (480) 499-8587 or visit for more information.

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