Journalists’ Roundtable

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Richard Ruelas: In tonight's Arizona art beat segment, we tell you about a new way to kick off the weekend this month and next in Tempe. The Tempe center for the arts will open its lounge every Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in February and March for Finally Friday. It's a time where people can relax, listen to performances, and gaze at the arts in the gallery at TCA. I'll talk to a Tempe official about Finally Friday, but first here's a look at what you can expect on Finally Friday from videographer Scott Olson.

SOT: Scott Olson

Richard Ruelas: Here now to talk about Finally Friday is Don Fassinger, Tempe's cultural facilities manager.

Don Fassinger: Thank you, Richard.

Richard Ruelas: We were just talking as we were watching the video. You have been with Tempe essentially as long as that building has. You have seen this building come up from the ground up.

Don Fassinger: I have actually started with the city of Tempe right around the napkin sketch stage is what I like to say. Hired by the city about two weeks after the architecture team was hired. I have had the opportunity to see the development, the construction, the development and the operation of the building.

Richard Ruelas: Tell us about this event which will give you time to go both here after your Cactus League game and then to the ASU sustains fire.

Don Fassinger: Absolutely.

Richard Ruelas: What is this events geared toward?

Don Fassinger: Our Finally Friday events is to bring more people to expose the Tempe center for the arts to more people. And to offer them a great time with a visit to the art gallery, some live music during a happy hour event. And to just introduce as I said more people to the TCA, and welcome those folks who already know the TCA.

Richard Ruelas: Is it an amenity that you think a lot of people in the east valley know about or take advantage of? Is that why you think it needs to exposure? Or is it just another venue to have open and celebrated?

Don Fassinger: Well, we recently started a relationship with a new concessionaire, and that concessionaire is very excited about our partnership, and we're both very excited about planning things and inventing things, full, to get more people into the space. But the space is beautiful. The location is gorgeous. And it's just a great place to be.

Richard Ruelas: So essentially there's going to be new, good grub. You want people to know about it.

Richard Ruelas: There's going to be new good grub. Tell us about the new restaurant. Because there hasn't been a cafe open there for a little while. Right?

Don Fassinger: It's not really a restaurant. What we are doing is offering free appetizers during the 5:00 to 7:00 period each Friday night between now and the end of March. And the Finally Friday also, as I said, earlier, it features live music. Right now we are featuring music by local singer songwriter A.J. AUGNEAL and Justin Olson and both folks who have come through our open mic program and our songwriter showcase program which is actually televised on KAET.

Richard Ruelas: Since you were there for the napkin stage, let's talk about the building itself which is striking, as you are coming over light rail or the 202 and the bridge or flying over it. What was the philosophy behind making the building look as it does?

Don Fassinger: The architecture team, the basic concept of the building is a village of buildings within another building. Based on a village plan, essentially. Our lobby serves as the town square, if you will. And each one of the buildings inside, between each one right buildings inside the overall outer building structure are roadways or streets, if you will, that separate those buildings, allow access for performers and audience members and so on.

Richard Ruelas: And then from the outside, the exterior, the sharp angle, what was the philosophy of just making it an inviting building? A striking building?

Don Fassinger: That's an interesting question. Because john Kane from arc tech town who was the lead on the roof design, I have grilled John several, several times and he keeps all of these things secret. But I think there are many, many different inspirations that John had. One is the mountainous nature of our local terrain. Another is the potential of a stealth fighter. A little secret I give people is as you are traveling south on priest, just before you cross the Salt River bed, if you look to the east, you will see the TCA and Hayden butte and they are almost identical silhouettes.

Richard Ruelas: Oh! So a little piece of artwork if you look to your left quickly. Is the center doing OK as far as visitation, events, how is it sustaining itself?

Don Fassinger: Oh, very well. We do more than 600 events a year, counting rehearsals and performances and meetings. We are right now jumping into our jazz month at TCA. This Saturday night, as a matter of fact, we are teaming together with lake shore music and the city of Tempe, presenting billy child's jazz orchestra, Saturday night at the center. On March 9th. We will see Karen Allison and the Scottsdale community college jazz orchestra. And March 19th, we are welcoming the Brubeck brothers quartet to the center. We wrap it you will up at the end of March with the quartet, young trumpet player.

Richard Ruelas: Local talent if you feel you have a voice or a musical talent. Open mic Wednesdays.

Don Fassinger: Walk-in Wednesdays. We just crossed our fourth year with walk-in Wednesdays. We do it every Wednesday night. And right now we are averaging 22 to 25 singer-songwriters each Wednesday night, from 6:00 to 10:00. So it's a great evening. Free entertainment. Come on down.

Richard Ruelas: We will see you tomorrow, Don. Thanks for joins. And we will see you tomorrow night on "Horizon."

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