Arizonagenda recently had the opportunity to visit and tour the Herberger Theater Center or (HTC), located at 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix, AZ 85004. HTC is known in the Phoenix area as a cultivator and advocate for the arts community. HTC’s mission is to support and foster the growth of performing arts in Phoenix as the premier performance venue, arts incubator and advocate. (f. Wikipedia)
When we scheduled the tour with Marketing & Communications Manager, Valerie Monaco we had no idea how much of a treat we would be in for. And that’s a HUGE understatement!
HTC is rich in history and their impact to the community through the many programs that are offered is incredible! I always ask and wonder many outlets that stake claim to community outreach, “what’s your impact?” Well, HTC’s impact reaches far and wide to many different ethnic groups, many different dynamics, many different income classes etc… I guess you can say, it’s just one big melting pot and all are truly welcome.
We had the pleasure of receiving an in-depth tour by Tom Raffaeli who is a volunteer and became an integral part of the theater even before the physical location broke ground (circa. 07/23/1987). Tom’s memories and experiences through the years allowed me to experience the history of the theatre through his eyes, and his passion and dedication to the theater is refreshing to say the least. After 30 years, his enthusiasm has not died down one bit.
Much like the other theaters around the valley that we’ve visited and highlighted, HTC has many community programs to offer as well:
- Youth Outreach Programs: designed to give Arizona children (ages 3-19) opportunities to excel, learn and heal through the arts.
- Arizona Young Artists’ Competition:
- Theater Camp*
- Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts
One of the programs Arizonagenda wanted to specifically highlight is Theater Camp.
In collaboration with Free Arts for Abused Children, homeless, abused and neglected teens living in group homes, shelters and residential treatment programs throughout Maricopa County all have an opportunity to create and experience healing through the arts during a two-week theater camp at the Herberger Theater Center. The young artists write and perform stories from their lives using acting techniques, music, dance and spoken word poetry. Their stories – real and often raw – come to life during a free live performance at the Herberger Theater. (f. HTC)
I attended the “Building Hope” June 30th performance after hearing the enthusiasm for the show from it’s Program Director/Ruth Sager during our tour. I have to say that I was moved to tears by the courage, love and hope that was shared. These beautiful young adults very bravely shared parts of their souls through their individual journeys through their tragedies. Each and every story was POWERFUL and IMPACTFUL!
As part of the audience’s contribution to the performance, we were all asked to share something we like, hope and wish for after the show. Here is my contribution:
I really like how the kids shared their most painful memories with dignity, strength, courage and determination. And how when some of them really struggled past their tears while sharing some of their most painful memories, the others came together to form a circle of unity, love and support around them to see them through it.
I hope these kids know and feel the incredible impact that they made on the hundreds of people in the audience by sharing their stories … and that they will go on to change the world in spite of their past and/or current struggles.
I wish programs like this became viral, trending topics and breaking news. Hope, healing, love, support, community, courage, dignity, strength and determination … I witnessed ALL of that last night and I’m incredibly encouraged today.
This tour has renewed my energy, enthusiasm and love for the arts, and we will definitely visit and volunteer often as a result. This tour was truly my pleasure!
Special Thanks to:
Valerie Monaco / Marketing & Communications Manager
Tom Raffaeli / HTC Volunteer & Our Tour Guide
Ruth Sager / Program Director for Theatre Camp