Leaders envision big encore for big arts season | City news

This past season at the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center was unlike anything Program Director Abby Mesmer and Scottsdale Arts CEO Gerd Wüstemann had seen in their careers.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride for everyone in their personal lives and their work, including us,” Messmer said. “We’ve grown together along the way and adapted in a lot of ways and managed to stay open all year.”

Despite the challenges of putting on shows while the world was going through a pandemic, the Center for the Performing Arts was able to put on 207 shows until June 15.

Wuestemann said that number “for any performing arts venue to perform at the best of times is really hard work. Our crew worked their tails off and it wasn’t the best time. COVID-19 has lingered much longer than we expected and our team is working in really difficult conditions.”

Wuestemann and his staff followed venues across the country in requiring patrons to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination to attend shows, staying the course until late spring.

“We had an amazing season,” Mesmer said. “I guess the biggest takeaway is to persevere and cooperate with your partners.”

Now she, Wuestemann and the rest of the staff are planning a big encore for this season.

Mesmer is looking forward to kicking off one of the biggest seasons of his career with show-stopping acts like The Temptations, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, an appearance by Broadway star Jessica Vosk, the return of ukulele strummer Jake Shimabukuro, as well as acts like Mariachi Sol De Mexico and Assisted Living: The Musical.

However, it is the events planned outside the Performing Arts Center that excite Wuestemann and Mesmer the most.

Canal Convergence is expected to be bigger than ever in celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Civic Center is set to complete its renovation in January, and once it’s complete, Scottsdale Arts is expected to announce another lineup of performers that includes the return of Sunday Affair for the first time since 2020

“So this year’s Canal Convergence will be particularly special, and we have allocated an even bigger budget for the event,” said Wuestemann.

“We also contacted some of the artists who were part of the first Canal Convergence 10 years ago and often those artists who we premiered then used that as a launch pad for their careers in public art and have now become some of the most famous artists in their sphere of public art.”

Because of this, Wuestemann expects this year’s festivities to attract over 300,000 people.

“Last year I think we drew almost 300,000 people to the channel — hopefully I think we’ll get back to that level and probably exceed this year for the 10th anniversary,” he said.

Shortly after the Canal Convergence, Wuestemann will race against time to put the finishing touches on the Civic Center, where crews have just begun laying concrete.

Construction shifted near the Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art, forcing visitors to enter SMoCA through the staff entrance on the north side of the building and enter the Center for the Performing Arts on the south side until construction on the hall is complete. in August.

After the dust has settled from more than a year of construction, Wuestemann is excited to begin outdoor events just in time for the Superbowl in Glendale on February 12.

“On January 22, we’re reopening the open spaces at the Civic Center,” he said. “ESPN’s sports broadcasts will run from the end of our new Civic Center. It will be located in the Old Town right on the main street with the Civic Center in the background.”

After the Super Bowl leaves town, Wuestemann is excited to continue the good times at his newly constructed stages.

“With the introduction of outdoor stages, we will also have additional opportunities to bring large productions outside,” he said.

Mesmer also says that increasing the stages will also increase the size of her staff.

“We expect to increase our staff a bit and be very busy with presenting events and leasing the space,” she said.

Although the 2021-2022 season has closed, Wuestemann and Messmer believe that the past season will have a positive impact, and they are eager for artists to take the various stages in the Performing Arts Center and on the Civic Center lawn.

“This past season is one that we will always look back on with a special place in our hearts because we were able to do so much this year and bring so many happy moments back to people,” Wuestemann said.

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