Get your city news emailed to you. Sign up now.
Tempe wishes Childsplay well in the next act of the group’s journey
City of Tempe
Tempe, AZ – Tempe is reflecting with pride on fostering the success of a homegrown arts organization, as Childsplay has decided to move most of its productions to Phoenix in pursuit of even larger audiences for its acclaimed, child-friendly shows.
When its current contract to host performances at Tempe Center for the Arts sponsored by Northern Trust (TCA) expires on June 30, 2019, Childsplay has said it will perform at the Herberger Theater Center. TCA has a 600-seat main theatre and Herberger has an 800-seat center stage.
“This is bittersweet, but we understand Childsplay’s desire to try to grow into a bigger space,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “The city has proudly embraced Childsplay as a key contributor to the cultural life of Tempe and we wish them all the best. I am glad they will continue to have a presence in Tempe with their headquarters and educational classes.”
In its 2015 Tempe Arts and Culture Plan, the city and the approximately 900 stakeholders who took part in the process envisioned a continuing role for Childsplay in Tempe. They emphasized the importance of opportunities for children. At the same time, stakeholders wanted the city to diversify the performing arts offerings at TCA to include more variety for adults.
The requested diversification of offerings at TCA is underway. In spring 2017, audiences enjoyed the first-ever Disrupt FEST, including a play directed by TCA Artistic Director Ralph Remington. Plans are underway for an even greater number of engaging offerings in the future. Childsplay’s departure will open up 20 weeks a year for additional productions on TCA’s main stage.
Having recently celebrated TCA’s 10-year anniversary in September, the city is excited about future opportunities at the amazing facility, as well as possibilities for bringing art to public spaces like city parks and bringing art to diverse audiences.
Mitchell noted that it is a great asset for children and families in Tempe and throughout the Valley to have Childsplay retain its Tempe presence at the city-owned former Mitchell School, now known as the Sybil B. Harrington Campus for Imagination and Wonder. Childsplay will continue to offer arts classes at the campus, including its summer day camps.
In 2006, the city transferred ownership of the former school to Childsplay. In 2016, Childsplay proposed selling the city its interest in the campus improvements it had made for the depreciated value of those improvements. The city agreed to pay Childsplay $1.9 million over five years and take back ownership of the property. The city and Childsplay then entered into a 50-year use agreement for the property, with Childsplay paying to lease, maintain and make repairs at the campus over that time period.
“This community strongly values arts and culture, and the City of Tempe has always made these types of investments in quality of life,” Mitchell said. “Our residents generously approved the 20-year arts tax in 2000 that made TCA possible. And our investments in Mitchell School will continue to help develop the artistic spirit of our young people.”
In May 2017, the Council consented to explore continuing the one-tenth of a cent sales tax for the arts beyond its current expiration in 2020. The Council agreed to place the issue on a future ballot for voter approval.