August 28, 2020

Take a Walk Down Memory Lane with Important Milestones in the 50-Year History of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Aerial photo of Scottsdale Center for the Arts construction, circa 1974. The Center is located toward the middle of the photograph with Civic Center Library directly above and the Scottsdale City Hall above and to the left. The PArking garage, also under construction, is located directly below.

In nearly five decades of history, how many unforgettable experiences have you enjoyed at the Center? 

1971: The first Scottsdale Arts Festival, where Philip Curtis and Paolo Soleri are two of the participating artists.  

1975: After a year of construction, Scottsdale Center for the Arts opens. “King of the Road” Roger Miller performs inaugural concert on October 23. 

Jeffrey Siegel has been bringing his Keyboard Conversations® to the Center for more than four decades.

1979: First Keyboard Conversations® with Jeffrey Siegel performed at the Center. 

1987: Frank Jacobson hired as first president and CEO. Our first Sunday A’Fair public concert series. 

Former landscape design of the amphitheater north of the Center.

1988: Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater created. Virginia G. Piper Concert Series begins.  

1998: Scottsdale Center for the Arts undergoes its first renovation since opening in 1975. Theater updated with new upholstery, paint, and other upgrades designed by architect Will Bruder.  

2000: First performance of Late Nite Catechism at the Center. Actress Patti Hannon moves to Scottsdale to star in the hit comedy, which eventually becomes Arizona’s longest-running theatrical production.  

LOVE by Robert Indiana was originally located on the pedestrian overpass above Drinkwater Boulevard. It was recently moved closer to Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

2002: Commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art, Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture is installed on the Civic Center Mall and becomes one of the most popular works of art in the city. First performance of Native Trails at the Civic Center.  

2005: Scottsdale Center for the Arts is renamed Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and celebrates its 30th anniversary.  

Virginia G. Piper Theater after the 2008 renovation.

2008: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Atrium and Virginia G. Piper Theater renovated, designed by architect John Douglas.  

2009: The atrium reopens, named after Dayton Fowler Grafman. Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth performs the opening concert on October 24.  

2013: Detour Company Theatre partners with the Center’s education department to present musical theatre productions twice yearly and enhance its programs for the disabled community.  

Jeffrey Siegel rehearses prior to a December 2019 performance in the Virginia G. Piper Theater.

2019: Jeffrey Siegel’s Keyboard Conversations® celebrates a major milestone of 40 years at the Center. And thanks to generous sponsors, 2,627 tickets (valued at $71,058) were donated to veterans, students, and teachers.  

2020: Although, the 50th annual Scottsdale Arts Festival’s in-person event was canceled in March, the first Virtual Scottsdale Arts Festival is presented online. 

2020: The Center launches its Amplify blog to continue connecting patrons to arts in the midst of a pandemic. 

Steven Rand exhibition in the Center’s atrium, 1980.

Did you know? Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts—one of four cohesive branches at Scottsdale Arts—is more than just a stage for local and touring performers?   

Beyond the walls of the theater, we are a devoted learning institution, a dynamic performing arts center, a museum focused on contemporary art, an outdoor gallery of public art—united by a greater mission to serve our community with the highest quality performing and visual arts the world has to offer, identifying emerging artistic talent, and providing a place for its expression. 

We are ONE: one community, one overarching mission, one arts organization—Scottsdale Arts. We cherish our shared history and all our branches work together to offer inspirational arts experiences to more than 600,000 residents and visitors annually. And ONE Members get the most! Become a ONE Member today for great year-round arts entertainment and support the Scottsdale arts community you love. Your support enables us to continue to deliver world-class artistry and impactful arts engagement, while you enjoy a year of amazing benefits, such as priority access and exclusive discounts, all while making art an essential part of the Arizona experience.

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Amplify Inspire | Immerse | Spark