City Week

Incorporating the Arts Into Urban Development

Innovation and Intersections

4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 27

Tucson Pima Arts Council, 100 N. Stone Ave., Suite 109


A talk hosted by the Tucson Pima Arts Council aims to prove that an intersection exists between urban and economic development and the arts.

The council has invited Deborah Cullinan, executive director of San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts, to give a lecture about how art, social justice and community change tend to remain interrelated in communities throughout the country. Most recently, Cullinan has helped spearhead an effort with San Francisco's 5M Project to blend creativity with urban development to make for more inclusive economic opportunities.

With her expertise in this particular area, Cullinan said she is glad to see that the interest in emphasizing the intersection of creativity and urban development has expanded to other cities, adding that she has seen the expansion from coast to coast.

"It's really interesting because I had no idea how often I would be asked to share this story," she said. "I think there's something to this; it's the right idea at the right time, and it's the way the world has changed around the economy."

Despite this new trend in analyzing the convergence between the arts and urban development, Cullinan said that not much has changed — that the correlation has existed for a long time, which is why it's important to continue. Doing so, she added will improve commerce, as well as a city's economy overall.

"I think that there has been an inherent intersection between the arts and urban development and change forever," Cullinan said. "It's just been inequitable."

Although talks like these have a very particular focus, Cullinan added that hundreds have turned out for them, and that they draw people from various different areas and platforms. The talk is free to attend, and no registration is required.

— K.M.

Sustainability Meets Creative Writing

Remixing Spaces as Places

7 p.m., Wednesday, March 27

Helen S. Schaefer Building, Rubel Room, 1508 E. Helen St.


Sustainable living and the craft of writing will converge at an event that aims to showcase a number of sustainable communities throughout Tucson.

Writer Simmons B. Buntin will host "Remixing Spaces as Places," a talk that borrows its name from his latest book, Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places, which features a dozen case studies of communities throughout the U.S., looking specifically at their efforts in sustainability, and how successful they are. Through the readings of poems and an essay excerpt, Buntin said he hopes to give an overview of his findings.

With a graduate degree in urban and regional planning and an interest in writing, Buntin uses his expertise as a way to advocate for effective sustainable solutions for communities. He currently works as the editor-in-chief of, a locally based online journal that analyzes built and natural environments.

"As a kid, I grew up in urban locations, and, frankly, never thought about the community as a place where we could create and design, plan and then build out," he said.

Among the dozen communities Buntin examines in his book and will mention in his presentation is the Civano neighborhood in southeast Tucson. Having lived there himself for a number of years now, Buntin said that studying Civano was a much more intimate process than the other neighborhoods.

"The challenge with that case study versus any of the others ... was culling it down," he said. "For me, it was scaling back a lot of the personal politics that I knew about that, that are true, but don't really matter in the context of the book."

With a focus on urban development conveyed through creative writing, Buntin said the free event is geared toward those interested in land use, but could be potentially interesting to just about anyone.

— K.M.

Acting It Out

22nd Annual New Play Festival

Friday through Sunday, March 22 through 24

Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.


From dramas to romantic comedies, local actors will be performing plays written by members of Old Pueblo Playwrights and the writers will be asking the audience for feedback on the plays they see.

The three-day festival includes a mix of one-act plays and full-length plays, as well as simple sets on a stage where actors bring the script with them and do a stage reading for the audience.

The opening full length play, Savage Bond written by Steve Holiday, tells a story of a group of old friends who get together for a funeral. The plays following this drama are a little more comedic with a mix of romance and some seriousness, according to John Vornholt, festival chairperson.

Saturday night's full length play, Style and Substance, which Vornholt directed, is a comedy about people in their 50s trying online dating. While the theme is a more modern take on dating, it includes a lot of comedy while following the story of four people, widowed or divorced, as they try their hand at meeting each other online.

"It has its serious underside in that, what are older people doing to make sure they're still in the game romantically," Vornholt said. "And how is that working?"

The festival will also have workshops where the audience tells the playwright what works and what doesn't.

The one act plays are about 15 minutes long and get right into the heart of the story.

"It'll get right into whatever it is trying to say and pretty much hit you over the head and get out," Vornholt said.

Show times are $7 and a three-day pass costs $20.

— S.C.

Barbershop Bonanza

Celebrate Harmony

3 p.m., Saturday, March 23,

Catalina Magnet High School, 3645 E. Pima St.


Celebrate Harmony is bringing back music from the 20th century in an all a cappella choir performance.

A group of about 40 men will dress up in tuxedoes and sing songs from the 1930s and 1940s at this year's Tucson Barbershop eXperience. Some of the men will then split up into smaller groups and perform the last half of the show in a series of quartets, singing music from before the 1930s to as late as the 1970s.

Tucson Barbershop eXperience has been around for 65 years and the group of men rehearses and memorizes all their music before performing live. The men try to learn a song in about a month then work on finishing touches and on harmonizing during their Monday night meetings at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

"Everybody's pretty much committed to learning their music and getting it down right," said David Updegraff, member of the chorus for 40 years.

The instrument-free choir is a hobby for the men, so they take time outside of their job to learn the songs. When a new song is chosen by their music team, members are given an mp3 file or CD so they can play and learn notes in their free time.

The group also co-hosts a youth and harmony festival in September where they teach students in high school about the Barbershop Harmony Society, a national society that extends to Canada and works to "preserve barbershop music as an artform," according to the society's website.

The annual event draws in about 400 audience members and will feature a guest performance by the Phoenix-based choir, Audacity, the international senior quartet champions in 2009.

The event is $15.

— S.C.

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