Local Nonprofit Gets Assist to Keep Cool This Summer

Temperatures in the Phoenix area broke multiple high records in August. And for nonprofit organizations that have been hit hard financially due to the coronavirus, the cost of purchasing and installing much-needed air conditioning units can be devastating to their budgets. But one local company is looking out for area nonprofits. On July 14, Reliance Heating & Air Conditioning coordinated the purchase and install of two new air conditioning units for Teen Challenge of Arizona.

Reliance Heating & AC is a family-owned North Phoenix company. They donated the installation services, and two new air conditioning units — compliments of Trane and Smiley Crane. This team effort totaled $15,000 worth of equipment and service for the Desert Hills nonprofit.

Teen Challenge of Arizona, a 501(c)(3) organization, provides youth, adults and families with a comprehensive Christian faith-based solution for drug addiction. Residential recovery programs consist of three centers for men, a center for adolescent girls and a center for women/women with children. Their outreach services include church presentations, school drug prevention presentations, civic club presentations, health fairs and community involvement, and correctional facilities visits. Learn more about the organization at tcaz.org.

Dalen Blumentritt, owner of Reliance said, “It’s important that we give back to our community especially when it’s for an organization that is about changing lives.”

Blumentritt added, “Due to the impact of COVID-19, the organization has been unable to hold their traditional event fundraisers. And regular supporters have been economically challenged too. So, donations are needed more than ever.”

For additional information about Reliance Heating & Air Conditioning, call 602.944.9585 or visit relianceac.com.

Act One Youth Theater Takes the Show Online

VIRTUALLY EVER AFTER and THE VIRTUAL FAMILY will be presented online Oct. 2, 6-8pm.

Act One Youth Theater is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit on a mission to provide children the opportunity to participate and experience performing arts, at a nominal expense to them or their families.

The volunteer operated children’s theater has been in existence for six-and-a-half years, according to Lauri Hunter, theater director.

This past season, the theater moved into a larger performance space, Phoenix Center for Performing Arts.

“Our new mission statement for 2020 had to be modified by implementing a $100 participate fee to help offset the cost of renting the venue,” says Hunter. “But we do not turn anyone away if they can’t afford this fee. Costumes are provided at no charge and we won’t require our actors and their families to sell tickets.
She adds that the group performs two musicals and one play each season, and one production every year is based on an award-winning book. For example, in the past they have presented Bridge to Terabithia, Phantom Tollbooth and Pippi Longstocking.

Like many performing arts organizations right now, Act One has had to postpone shows and rehearsals, until last month. They decided to move forward with the next season in an online format. Rehearsals will be held virtually via Zoom and performances will be recorded by each actor and compiled into a streaming format to be presented online.

Hunter says that the community can help them weather the downturn in three ways:

<<begin numbering>>
“Community members can support us by making a tax-free donation as we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit children’s theater.
“They can shop online via the Amazon Smile program: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/46-4465373.
“They can help spread the word to their friends and family about our organization so we can continue to grow.”
<<end numbering>>
Act One’s virtual productions will be streamed online at no charge but donations will be accepted. For additional information, call 480.789.1918 or visit actoneyouththeater.org.

Reducing Infant Drownings Starts with Teaching Water Survival Skills

September is Baby Safety Month and Goldfish Swim School is fully focused on the leading cause of unintentional deaths in children — drowning.

According to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of children ages 1 to 4 who drowned in 2020 rose steadily throughout the summer, likely due to families staying home due to COVID-19. But while many pools close after Labor Day, drowning can happen in as little as two inches of water and prevention starts with the basics of water safety — being able to hold your breath, flip on your back, get to the ledge and crawl out of the water. Those basics can be taught to children as young as four months old and it’s why Goldfish Swim School offers swim lessons for even the youngest of learners.

“At Goldfish Swim School of Scottsdale, we understand that swim lessons at a very young age isn’t just about water comfort and bonding — it’s about safety and survival, both for the infants and for their parents, said Sherry Scott, owner of Goldfish Swim School of Scottsdale. “No one wants to think about what could happen if their baby falls into a pool or slips in a bathtub, but you can prevent those worst-case-scenarios head on by enrolling in swim lessons and being vigilant about water safety. Our hope at Goldfish Swim School is to raise awareness for families during Baby Safety Month to help change the outcomes.”

In addition to offering small group and family swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School recently built a new program with national partners called Goldfish RX. With Goldfish RX, Goldfish Swim School of Scottsdale is building relationships with pediatricians across the Scottsdale area by providing educational material needed to promote doctor-patient conversations around drowning prevention, the importance of water safety and the value of infant and toddler swim lessons.

“It’s time for essential change throughout our community. Drowning deaths are preventable and, at Goldfish Swim School, we want to be part of the solution. Together we can change the conversation and save lives,” Scott said.

For more information on Goldfish Swim School of Scottsdale and water safety, visit goldfishswimschool.com/north-scottsdale.

UMOM’s Walk to End Homelessness Scavenger Hunt — There’s Still Time to Join!

Sara Phillips at UMOM’s Packet pick-up today; submitted photo

UMOM New Day Centers, an Arizona leader in shelter, services and housing for families, single women and youth experiencing homelessness, is hosting its 12th Annual Walk to End Homelessness Saturday, Sept. 19. This year’s event is an interactive scavenger hunt with great raffle prizes. People can participate individually or with their family, from home or around their neighborhood.

UMOM currently holds the official Guinness Book of World Records, Largest Thong Sandal 1k Race. Last September, the UMOM community rallied nearly 2,000 people from companies, churches, families and neighborhoods to put on flip flops and support their mission to end homelessness. Not only did UMOM set a new world record but raised much-needed funds for its emergency shelters, supportive services, and innovative housing solutions that help secure permanent housing for the people it serves. Instead of walking to beat their current world record, this year they are walking to raise awareness around the continued increase in homelessness due COVID-19 and many other circumstances.

The Interactive Scavenger Hunt takes place 7am–noon, Sept. 19, and can be completed anywhere participants can take a walk — their house, neighborhood, local park, etc.

Details: Sign up at umom.org/walk


  1. Most Points in Scavenger Hunt: 75-inch TV
  2. Most Funds Raised: iPad Pro 11
  3. Most Funds Raised by Team: $250 Helping Café gift Card


  1. Camping Package (Yeti cooler, s’mores sticks, lantern, tumblers and more)
  2. At Home Movie Theater (movie screen, projector, popcorn and flavorings, movie snacks, and more.)
  3. Foodie Tour (gift cards to over 10 local restaurants)

APS Extends Hold on Disconnects Through End of 2020

In a statement issued Sept. 15, Arizona Public Service (APS) said that, in an effort to ease the burden for those struggling to pay their electric bills, residential and business customers will not have their service disconnected for non-payment through the end of the year. Late fees will continue to be waived during this time.

Because of the pandemic, APS suspended disconnects for non-payment and waived late fees effective March 13. Then, on June 1, a seasonal hold on disconnects took effect for residential customers of all regulated utilities, which, without this week’s extension would have expired Oct. 15.

As Arizona faces yet another potentially record-high day of heat after a record-breaking summer, this news will be welcome to many who have experienced a loss of income or are still working and learning from home. APS serves nearly 1.3 million homes and businesses in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties.

While customers will not be disconnected for non-payment through Dec. 31, APS encourages customers to seek assistance now if they know they are already behind on balances owed. Programs customers may qualify for could fully cover or significantly reduce past due balances, and it’s a good idea to explore those options now to avoid a potential year-end rush, according to Monica Whiting, vice president, Customer Experience.

To explore support options and programs or to connect to additional assistance, customers can visit aps.com/support. Visit aps.com/tips for ways to save on monthly electric bills.

The Phoenix Theatre Company Presents a Musical Celebration With Local Trio, We3

Photo: We3 Music

Live performing arts organizations, artists and patrons alike are eagerly awaiting the day they can gather for in-person events. Some local venues plan to reopen as soon as fall 2020, while others have moved programming 100 percent online. As The Phoenix Theatre Company develops plans for digital content and outdoor performances later this year, the company is offering a free digital performance to its patrons, in collaboration with local favorite We3, The Great American Songbook.

“Our faithful patrons are the reason we remain hopeful we’ll be back together soon for live performance,” said Karla Frederick, director of production at The Phoenix Theatre Company. “To thank our patrons, we’re collaborating with three of the Valley’s finest musicians for an evening of healing, joy and comfort.”

We3 is a Phoenix-based, all-female trio with pianist Nicole Pesce, vocalist Renee Grant Patrick and violinist Suzanne LansfordThe Great American Songbook encapsulates the work of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter and more, giving viewers the opportunity to rediscover the most influential composers of jazz and showtune music.

“Music is something we need now more than ever — it uplifts, inspires and builds empathy,” said Pesce. “This set list is meant to give us a sense of comfort. We’re celebrating these iconic composers. And even more so, it’s a reason for us to come together and enjoy the music we all know and love.”

The Great American Songbook is a free digital event streaming live Sept. 18 at 7:30pm. Once guests RSVP, The Phoenix Theatre Company will email attendees a streaming link. To learn more and to book a free ticket, visit phoenixtheatre.com/songbook.

2020–21 Performing Arts Season Preview

This season will be one like no other for Valley performing arts organizations. As seasons ended abruptly across the state this spring, companies had to quickly adapt. Theaters were shuttered, employees were furloughed. Many fall seasons were reinvented while others were postponed and some, sadly, canceled entirely. Over the summer, theaters developed alternative programming — something that will continue to carry them to spring of 2021 when, hopefully, live and in-person theater can continue on a broad scale.

In the meantime, arts organizations are looking to Valley residents to help them weather the storm by subscribing to upcoming seasons, making donations if able and engaging with them on social media as they keep the ghost light burning until patrons can return. | CST

ABT’s production of Chicago

Arizona Broadway Theatre
www.azbroadway.org; 623.776.8400

“Everything is ready. The set is still there, the costumes are hanging on the racks and the talent is standing by…we can’t wait to breathe life back into this long awaited show.”

Cassandra Klaphake, artistic producer

Chicago, which closed early in March,will be the first full production to return to the ABT stage — set for January 2021. Outdoor performances and other additional interim programming are in development for the fall.

Arizona Musicfest
www.azmusicfest.org; 480.422.8449

Although its plans for a special celebratory season of performances had to be altered, Arizona Musicfest is undaunted and will kick off its 30th anniversary season in 2021 with Ray on My Mind, Jan. 12.

“Musicfest looks forward to safely reuniting our community as we celebrate our resilience and strengthen our resolve to bring the joy of music to all. Something which we believe is now more vital than ever before.”

Allan Naplan, executive and producing director

Arizona Opera
www.azopera.org; 602.266.7464

Arizona Opera is replacing its planned in-theater productions for the 2020–21 season with alternative programs that can be more safely enjoyed by a larger audience. The reimagined season will offer live, outdoor, socially distanced performances, combined with a collection of digital offerings. Programming kicks off Oct. 2 with its Studio Spotlight Series. On the horizon, the film adaptation of The Copper Queen, set in 1910 Bisbee, this is Arizona Opera’s second world premiere commission and its first foray into sharing the art form more broadly through a streamed, motion picture format.

Arizona Theatre Company
www.arizonatheatre.org; 602.256.6995

ATC has designed a diverse, multi-layered approach to the season, with imaginative ways to stay connected with and entertain audiences, leading to a safe return to Mainstage productions in January 2021. ATC kicks off the first half of its season with digital programming beginning in September with Slow Food, Somewhere Over The Border, Covenant, The Realness and more. The six show mainstage productions will run through November 2021: My 80 Year Old Boyfriend; Pru Payne; Nina Simone: Four Women; Women in Jeopardy!; how to make an American Son; and The Legend of Georgia McBride.

Company, The Band’s Visit North American Tour. Photo: Matthew Murphy

ASU Gammage
www.asugammage.com; 480.965.3434

ASU Gammage will present digital performance programming in September and October in preparation for a return to live, in-person theater in 2021.

Feb. 9–14: My Fair Lady
March 16–21: Tootsie
April 8–25: Disney’s Frozen
May 21–23: Jersey Boys
June 8–13: To Kill a Mockingbird
July 20–25: The Band’s Visit
Aug. 31 – Sept. 5: Mean Girls

Ballet Arizona
www.balletaz.org; 602.381.1096

“We are counting on our return to Desert Botanical Garden in May 2021 to present the much-anticipated world premiere of The Four Seasons.”

Samantha Turner, executive director

The company announced a departure from its previously planned 35th anniversary fall season of main-stage performances. A more digitally focused season is planned, including Inspire, a mixed-rep production scheduled for late October, and Nutcracker Suite, a re-imagined virtual version of the holiday classic set to air in mid-December.

Black Nativity 2019; Photo: Laura Durant

Black Theatre Troupe
www.blacktheatretroupe.org; 602.258.8129

“In 1970 the Black Theatre Troupe was born as a result of the same energy that is sweeping across the nation today. We have always been here to give voice to the Black experience. And we will continue to do so.”

David Hemphill, executive director

The Black Theatre Troupe’s 2020–21 season, Telling Our Stories, will mark the 50th year the company has celebrated and illuminated the Black experience. The season will include Sistas: The Musical, Sunset Baby, Black Nativity, A Soldier’s Play and Ain’t Misbehavin’.

www.childsplayaz.org; 480.921.5700

Childsplay is currently offering classes for ages 4–15 with professional theater artists crafting engaging, participatory and dynamic online drama instruction. The organization also creates fun family activities and creative projects to try online every week. También en español.

Desert Foothills Theater
www.dftheater.org; 480.488.1981

DFT will kick off the season at the Holland Community Center with its production of Disney’s The Lion King, Jr., Sept. 18–27. Keep an eye on the website for exciting fall season announcements.

Don Bluth Front Row Theater
www.donbluthfrontrowtheatre.com; 480.314.0841

Jan. 14 – Feb. 27: Drinking Habits
March 11 – April 24: Sleuth
May 13 – June 26: The Curious Savage
Sept./Oct.: Camelot
Nov./Dec.: It’s A Wonderful Life

Herberger Theater Center

Herberger Theater Center is home to six resident companies — Arizona Broadway Theatre, Arizona Opera, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Dance Ensemble, Childsplay Theatre and iTheatre Collaborative — and hosts other local and touring companies, arts education and outreach programs and its Art Gallery. Herberger plans to once again celebrate the arts in the community at its Festival of the Arts, Nov. 7. This year, a hybrid festival, re-imagined with live performances on an outdoor stage, virtual performances, artist demonstrations and vendor market.

Musical Instrument Museum
www.mim.org; 480.478.6000

Dustbowl Revival; Photo: Shervin Lainez

The MIM reopened to the public in August with new safety precautions in place. While live concerts have not yet resumed, look for acts such as Dustbowl Revival when the concert hall reopens.

In addition, September is Educator Appreciation Month at MIM. Prekindergarten through 12th-grade educators, school and district administrators, principals, registered student teachers and homeschool educators will receive free general museum admission.

Junie B. Jones; Photo: Michele Celentano

Musical Theatre of Anthem
www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org; 623.336.6001

Sept. 17–20: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Jr.
Nov. 12–15: Junie B. Jones, Jr.
Dec. 3–6: Our Town
March 25–28: Disney’s Aladdin Kids
April 8–18: Godspell
April 29 – May 8: 13
June 17–19: School House Rock Live, Jr.

North Valley Symphony Orchestra
www.northvalleysymphony.org; 623.980.4628

NVSO is considering a variety of creative options for the fall season. The organization says it looks forward to sharing that information soon, but, in the meantime, hopes to engage with audiences through its social media platforms.

Phoenix Chorale
www.phoenixchorale.org; 602.253.2224

The Chorale’s April 2020 concert, Birth & Rebirth, was postponed March 18. Now, the concert is expected to open the 2020–21 season, Oct. 16–18. Keep an eye on the website for additional season announcements.

Phoenix Symphony
www.phoenixsymphony.org; 602.495.1999

“As stewards of this historic and beloved institution, our mission and responsibility centers on preserving our future and reuniting in Symphony Hall to celebrate our 75th Anniversary in the fall of 2021.”

Suzanne Wilson, president and CEO

In mid-August, the Symphony announced the cancellation of its 2020–21 season.

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra
www.pmaz.org; 623.326.5172

Enjoy a livestreamed and in-person concert, “A Musical Kaleidoscope,” featuring musical talent in small ensembles and solo performances, Nov. 8. Also, kicking off in September, weekly online choral and instrumental instruction will be available.

Rising Youth Theatre

The theater assures audiences that “Creativity is not canceled!” Visit their website to check out the “virtual learning space” for K–12 learners. Click “Resources.”

Kalli Sparish & Haydehn Tuipulotu in the 2019 production of A Vampire Tale; Photo: Angel Castro

Scorpius Dance Theatre
www.scorpiusdance.com; 602.254.2151

Celebrating 20 years in the Valley, Scorpius Dance Theatre combines the motifs of humor, drama and both organic and technical movement to form a very distinct brand of dance theater and aerial arts.

Artist Seth Rudetsky in Times Square

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org; 480.499.8587

“All we have to offer this season will help you reconnect to your life and your community.”

Abbey Messmer, programming director

The Center has curated an exciting 2020–21 season — it will be a season of reconnecting, of meeting friends for a performance and connecting to celebrated artists, local creatives, fan favorites and new discoveries. Noteworthy performances are Marc Cohn, Broadway stars in The Seth Rudetsky Concert Series, Mavis Staples, Gil Shaham, KODO, René Marie Quintet and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, to name a few

Southwest Shakespeare Company 
www.swshakespeare.org; 480.435.6868

Southwest Shakespeare Company’s 27th season kickoff dates have not been announced yet, but the company has an excellent line-up of both contemporary and timeless classics coming to audiences soon.

Becoming Othello: A Black Girls Journey
Mabel Madness
All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented the Villain
Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
An Iliad
The Tempest

The Phoenix Theatre Company
www.phoenixtheatre.com; 602.254.2151

“To deliver you the best season we can, we are actively preparing for a combination of outdoor live shows and original streaming content featuring local artists. We anticipate announcing shows in October. At that time you would be able to choose your package and select your seats. Once we can be assured of the safety of our audiences, artists, and staff we will be ready to resume indoor programming on our stages —currently scheduled for Summer 2021.”


Theatre Artists Studio
www.thestudiophx.org; 602.765.0120

Current offerings include “EarPlays,” re-imagined vintage radio productions in a variety of genres recorded on stage at Theatre Artists Studio and featuring its artistic members. Coming soon: original “radio plays” from the Studio playwrights, presented via podcast.

Valley Youth Theatre
www.vyt.com; 602.253.8188

Dec. 4–23: A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail
Feb. 5–21: Sleeping Beauty
April 2–18: Junie B. Jones — The Musical
June 11–27: Peter Pan

To further support the arts in Arizona, and the spaces in which they take place, learn about the National Independent Venue Association’s efforts to #SAVEOURSTAGES at saveourstages.com.

NOTE: All performance dates included in the September 2020 print issue were current at publication time. Information has been updated here, but dates/shows are subject to change. For updated information on shows and ticketing, visit the organization’s website.

Hear more from Arizona Theatre Company and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in our September North Valley cover story; and from Desert Foothills Theater in our September Carefree/Cave Creek cover story.

New Executive Director Announced for Desert Foothills Library

In early August, the Desert Foothills Library board of directors announced the appointment of a new executive director, Anne Johnson. She will take on this new role Sept. 21. Following a handover period, the current director, David Court, will retire after 10 years in the role. The appointment follows an extensive search, led by a committee appointed by the board of directors.

Johnson has extensive library experience — her most recent position was deputy director, Public Services at Austin Public Library. Prior to that she was executive director at West Pittston Public Library, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit library, the same status as Desert Foothills Library.

As executive director of the Desert Foothills Library, Johnson will be responsible for all aspects of managing the library, including re-opening of the facility following the COVID–19 closure.

Robert Hindle, president of the Library board of directors said, “David Court has done an excellent job leading the Desert Foothills Library for the past decade. Anne Johnson is a perfect choice to continue that work.”

Johnson noted, “I am so excited for the opportunity to work with the board, staff and volunteers to serve the Desert Foothills Community. I look forward to continuing David’s legacy of focusing on the most important element of library work: the people.”

The Desert Foothills Library is independently funded and serves the entire Desert Foothills community.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit dfla.org or call 480.488.2286.

Fall Arizona Restaurant Week: Dine In or Take Out Kicks Off Sept. 18

Dining at Chauncey Social

St. Francis, Harissa half chicken

The Fall Arizona Restaurant Week (ARW) culinary event has been modified to meet new regulations due to COVID-19, but that is not dampening the spirits or the taste buds of Valley diners.

Arizona Restaurant Week: Dine In or Take Out returns for 10 days of culinary exploration, from Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 27.

“We feel not only gratitude but also great pride in the fact that the local dining community has showed up again and again in support of our industry since closures and limited re-opening mandates,” said Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) president and CEO Steve Chucri. “We are thrilled to see that dining out — whether that means in-restaurant or getting take-out — is still such an important part of people’s lives.”

The new Fall Arizona Restaurant Week: Dine In or Take Out will operate much like the June event, which debuted the modified format including dine-in, take out and liquor to-go options.

The event is intended to allow food enthusiasts to explore new culinary opportunities in any way that they feel comfortable dining while also giving restaurants and local chefs the economic support that they need now more than ever.

During the event, participating restaurants will follow all CDC guidelines regarding safety measures and limited dine-in capacity. Participating restaurants around the state will offer culinary adventurers dedicated menus that showcase local chefs’ creative talents through innovative dishes.

Featuring a unique tasting opportunity apart from their regular menus, restaurants will offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44 per person. Wine pairings to enhance each course are offered at some establishments for an additional cost.

Many diners’ favorites are returning for Fall ARW, and the ARA announced that new members are participating for the first time. The current line-up of nearly 80 restaurants can be found online. Visit arizonarestaurantweek.com.

Photos courtesy of Arizona Restaurant Week

Barro’s Pizza Seeks Local Student for $10,000 Tuition Giveaway

Barro’s Pizza, a local family-owned pizzeria, is giving away $10,000 to one Arizona resident in the 2020 Arizona Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway. The prize money is available to help pay college tuition or any related educational expenses. Entries will be accepted online at barrospizza.com/drpeppercontest starting today, Sept. 14.

“This is our ninth year celebrating our partnership with Dr Pepper to give away $10,000 to a local student,” said Ken Barro, owner of Barro’s Pizza. “Helping others in our community is at the foundation of who we are as a company. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, it’s a great time to reflect on our wonderful customers that help us reach new milestones every day — that allow us to participate in important initiatives like this one.”

The Barro’s Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway has awarded $75,000 to students in Arizona since 2012. Submissions are open to all Arizona residents 18 years or older. A winner will be selected at random from the online and text-to-win entries. The winner can use the money to pay for current expenses such as tuition and books or to pay off outstanding student loans. Entries will be accepted Sept. 14 — Dec. 14. For more information about the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway, visit drpeppertuition.com.

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