Arizona Artbeat: New Tempe Arts Director

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The City of Tempe has hired a new arts director. Theater veteran Ralph Remington will discuss his new role as the citys art director.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" looks at the new director, he is here. Have you been here long?

Ralph Remington: I moved here June 1.

Ted Simons: Are you familiar with Arizona?

Ralph Remington: I have two brother-in-law's who live here.

Ted Simons: Well, welcome to town. Welcome to summer in Arizona. Welcome to Tempe. Art and culture deputy director. What are we talking about here?

Ralph Remington: I'm artistic director and deputy arts and culture director for city of Tempe. That includes all the things that happens in the theater spaces, arts and culture, education, all of those things that are on our campus with where the library is. So, I have that as well. It basically covers the entire city of Tempe.

Ted Simons: I know the goal was to advance goals in arts and culture in a plan Tempe has.

Ralph Remington: There was an art and culture plan that was put together was the constituents of Tempe and the citizens got together. Over 900,000 people got together. One of them was to have a definite direction with the tca, the Tempe center for the arts, and have a purposeful plan as to how we move forward.

Ted Simons: It's a beautiful building. Is it being used to the best of its capabilities?

Ralph Remington: I think, yes and no. In the past, it's been largely a rental institution and we have child's play, stray cat is a fairly new resident group there. It's largely been a rental institution. What we want to do now, is the Tempe center for the arts want to become a producing entity. We're going to do our own plays and bring in national and international artists. We're going to do all of those things. It won't be disciplinary so there will be dance and visual art and theatre, performance art. We want to activate that lobby space. Activate the area outside of the theater so there's always something. When they step on the sidewalk, they're confronted with lots of stimulus.

Ted Simons: You mentioned bringing in national acts, have they been reluctant?

Ralph Remington: They haven't had the leadership. The direction they're taking right now, the plan dictates that direction. Prior to this, they had stable management, but not leadership to move it forward and become a major player on the national scene.

Ted Simons: So, with that in mind, the current state of the art in Tempe, what is the current state of arts?

Ralph Remington: I think the city of Tempe has a great cultural community. And, the state is, I think, fairly good, you have child's play, stray cat, Arizona theater company. There are a lot of independent groups and artists. We want to be the nucleus for all those artists to gather around. We want to present those artists, produce those artists and produce them.

Ted Simons: The university there, it's the giant in the middle of the room. How do you work with the university?

Ralph Remington: I know Colleen Jennings for a long time. We'll be working together. We'll be working together with Liz, who's a McArthur person. Michael road, who comes from [Indiscernible] theater. We'll try to do community building. We want to go out and not just have art in the space, but in the community. So, where people live. We want to do a play about violence in the schools, we want to do that in a classroom to show how that plays out so people have a feeling of being in a classroom during a possible violent confrontation. We want to take the mountain to the people.

Ted Simons: You come from a theater background.

Ralph Remington: I do.

Ted Simons: How do you think it helps?

Ralph Remington: I think it helps a lot. I was director of theater in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, I can saw 150 shows a year, all over the United States of America so those artists are friends of mine, associates of mine and they have a place to live and stay in Tempe. So I want to tap on all those relationships and bring all of those artists to the center for the arts.

Ted Simons: You were a member of the Minneapolis city council?

Ralph Remington: I've always been politically there. I wanted to impact people's lives for the better.

Ted Simons: It helps you understand how things get done.

Ralph Remington: My relationships with the mayor and council are off to a fast start. My boss, Shelley, who's a community services director, she knew that when she hired me. We're working with the city, with the citizens, with the artists to build one big institution.

Ted Simons: Congratulations.

Ralph Remington: Thank you so much.

Ted Simons: Good luck to you down there.

Ted Simons: Friday on "Arizona Horizon," it's the "Journalists' Roundtable." A lawsuit is filed to block a ballot measure for the legalization of marijuana. That, and more, on the next "Journalists' Roundtable."

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona pbs, members of your pbs station. Thank you.

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