Blog Archives

Downtown Phoenix is home to the 27th Annual Matsuri Festival this weekend

Arizona Matsuri 2011 Feb 26 27

The 27th Annual Matsuri Festival takes over Heritage & Science Park in downtown Phoenix on Saturday and Sunday, February 26 & 27, 2011.

This two-day celebration features colorful displays of authentic Japanese art, crafts, and entertainment.

Traditional Japanese food and merchandise will be on sale.

This year, the festival recognizes and celebrates Phoenix’ Sister City Himeji in Japan, making it the 2011 theme for Matsuri.

The second city to be formally recognized as a Phoenix Sister City, Himeji became a partner in 1976. The city is located along the Seto Inland Sea some 40 miles west of Kobe, which is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture.

While Phoenix is named for the mythological Phoenix bird, Himeji Castle, which is considered the best-preserved castle in Japan, is called Oshiro or “White Heron” and is designated as a United Nations World Treasure.

The Japanese Friendship Garden, Ro Ho En, located in Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix, is the product and shared vision of the Sister Cities of Phoenix and Himeji and features 1,500 tons of handpicked rock, more than 50 varieties of plants, flowing streams, an authentic tea house, and a 12-foot waterfall and Koi pond.

New This Year!

  • A beer garden with extended hours on Saturday only from 12 noon to 9pm each day.
  • Karaoke contest and some dancing from 5pm-9pm each day.

2011 Taiko Entertainment

The following Japanese Taiko drumming groups and entertainers will be performing on the ASU Stage at Heritage Square and Science Center from 10:30 am – 5:00 pm:

  • Fushicho Daiko*Phoenix Drummers
  • All Arizona Taiko Team
  • Phoenix Taiko Kai
  • Saboten Taiko
  • Aozora
  • Kemushi
  • Ken Koshio, a native Japanese singer & song writer, Taiko player and Japanese folk artist.
  • Washington Elementray Taka Taiko Drummers
  • Faith North Montessori Taiko
  • Senators Taiko
  • SGI Taiko
  • Awa Odori Dancers from Los Angeles, CA
  • Hands On Taiko ~ you know you want to try it!

Monroe Street Stage Performers:

Stay posted to for entertainment updates.



Admission to attend the festival is free.  For more details, please call Heritage Square Office at 602.262.5071.  Recorded information is available at 602.262.5029. Or at the

What: 27th Annual Matsuri: A Festival of Japan!  Phoenix Sister City-Himeji Celebrating 35 Years

Who: Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Phoenix Sister Cities Commission / Himeji Committee, Japanese American Citizens League, ArizonaBuddhist Temple Desert Cross Community Church, and the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, along with many other individual benefactors and supporters.

Where: Heritage and Science Park, 115 North 6th Street Phoenix, AZ 85004-2328 (7th Street and Monroe, downtown Phoenix)

When: Saturday and Sunday, February 26 & 27, 2011 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Highlights: Japanese Exhibits, Demonstrations, Arts and Crafts, Children’s Activities,Bonsai Displays, Japanese Food and Entertainment.

Book offers pictorial history of Mexicans in Phoenix

[Source: Beth Litwin, Arizona Republic] — Local author Frank Barrios (pictured at left) and the Phoenix Museum of History invite you to a dinner and book-signing event for his new pictorial history entitled “Mexicans in Phoenix.”  Barrios, a Phoenix native with family roots dating back to the 1800s, compiled 213 photos with captions highlighting the social, cultural and economic history of Mexicans in Phoenix.  “I often refer to the story of Mexican people in Phoenix as the untold story,” said Barrios, adding that the majority of the photos have never been displayed or published before.  The 127-page book features family history and Mexicans photos from the late 1800s through the 1970s.  Barrios gathered many of the photos and stories from interviews with members of pioneer Mexican families in Phoenix while working on the Hispanic Property Survey project last year.

He joined Phoenix Historic Preservation officers and other researchers working on the survey that identified Mexican American properties important to Phoenix’s history.  Barrios agreed to put together the book after the project’s completion.  Among many community involvements, Barrios serves as vice president of the Board of Directors at the Phoenix Museum of History, president of First Families of Arizona, and serves on the state board of the Arizona Historical Society.  For more information, visit the Phoenix Museum of History website.

Just ShowUp to Phoenix’s “visitor’s center for the arts”

ShowUp is the resource for what’s happening in theaters, museums, and outdoor venues throughout Greater Phoenix and beyond.  It offers a comprehensive calendar of events, bringing together into a single convenient online site information that was, previously, scattered or not readily available at all. lets you click or browse to find performances and exhibitions, classes and workshops, venues, and artists.  It even provides you with information about discount tickets (last-minute and otherwise). tells you what’s showing up on stages and at cultural destinations, providing you with date, time, and even maps — so all you have to do is Show Up.

Maricopa Campaign for Arts and Culture sets sights on 2010 Campaign

The Board of Directors of the Maricopa Campaign for Arts and Culture has determined that its best opportunity for success is through the development and implementation of a campaign for dedicated public funding for arts and culture organizations in the 2010 general election.  The decision to target the 2010 election rather than the upcoming 2008 general election is based on a number of factors including the current economic downturn, fund-raising requirements, and the belief that an effective campaign will require more strategic planning and interface with critical constituencies than is possible in the months leading to November 2008. 

The MCAC board is fully pledged to the success of this campaign and will take immediate steps to develop an action plan and timetable leading to November 2010.  The campaign’s ultimate success will depend on the active engagement and support of the region’s arts and culture community and other concerned stakeholders.

MCAC is a 501(c)4 organization created concurrently with Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture to address the undercapitalization of non-profit arts and cultural organizations by securing an annual dedicated public funding stream.

Invite a non-Phoenician to Art Detour, March 8-9

Art Link, Inc., is one of the oldest artist-run, all volunteer arts organizations in downtown Phoenix.  Since 1989, it has organized Phoenix’s biggest annual artwalk, Art Detour.  This year’s facts and figures:

  • What: Free self-guided tour of 60 downtown Phoenix galleries and studios.
  • When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 8, and Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 9.
  • Where: Free shuttles will run three routes during event hours.  The hub is Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave.  Maps available at participating art spaces.

In 1994, Art Link created First Friday, which has grown to become the largest monthly artwalk in the U.S.  With dozens of arts venues open free to the public each month, Art Link’s First Friday succeeds in bringing people back to downtown Phoenix.

Downtown Voices statement on Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

Chairman Keuth and Planning Commission Members:

The Artists Issues Task Force has been working on the Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay for over two years now, and we think we have come up with a reasonable and balanced plan that will make it easier for the arts and small business uses to prosper and grow in downtown Phoenix.  The Task Force is comprised of artists, residents, developers, small business owners, the non-profit sector, and representatives from many city departments.  There have been numerous public meetings throughout this lengthy process and the overlay language has been continually altered to address issues raised by both community members and city staff.

The model we have developed has been influenced by successful districts around the country: vibrant downtown with a concentration of interesting small business, art, and cultural activities that contribute to the economic development and overall health of a city’s artistic and cultural life.  These districts attract residents and visitors alike, and are times key in a company or corporation’s decision to locate to a particular city.  Portland, Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle, New York, and other great cities have multiple character districts that define and make those cities truly unique and major destinations — and competitive on a global scale.

As Phoenix grows and becomes increasingly dense, we will continue to face the challenges that growth brings.  However, one of our biggest challenges will be retaining our creative and small business community and remaining competitive with not only other peer cities around the world, but with other rapidly growing cities around the Valley.  We feel this overlay will be a key component in helping downtown Phoenix maintain a competitive edge with other vibrant creative sectors, and will prove vital in promoting the “small wonders” that will ultimately bring a balance to the successful large projects that have been completed or are currently underway downtown.

We respectfully request that you support the February 11, 2008 recommendation of the Central City Village Planning Committee approving the proposed Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay.  On behalf of the Artist’s Issues Task Force, we are

Sincerely yours,

Sloane Burwell, Artlink, Inc.
Reid Butler, Butler Housing Company
Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC
Steven Helffrich, Studio Architecture
Dana Johnson, Garfield Organization
Kim Moody, Alwun House
Beatrice Moore, La Melgosa, L.L.C.
Steve Weiss, Downtown Voices Coalition

Downtown Voices statement on Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

Dear Planning Commission Chair Keuth:

Downtown Voices Coalition, in a unanimous vote with one abstention, supports the City of Phoenix Planning Department staff recommendations regarding the amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to establish the Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay District.  This amendment would accomplish three things:

  • Encourage new and existing small businesses, including arts groups, art-spaces, entertainment, dining, and cultural activities, to revitalize the downtown areas included in the overlay.
  • Codify and legalize existing uses in the district, while establishing parameters for those uses.
  • Enable an overlay that enhances, rather than diminishes, property rights.

The continued success of First Friday, Third Friday, and the city’s goal of an expanded arts and entertainment culture in the downtown will be achieved in large part through this overlay.

Steve Weiss, Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition

Public invited to comment on Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay

For the past two years, an Artist’s Issues Task Force (under the auspices of the city’s Downtown Development Office) has worked to develop an Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay in and around downtown Phoenix.  The current proposal has gone through an extensive public review process and citizen comments and ideas have been incorporated. 

Additional public comment is welcome at upcoming meetings of the Central City Village Planning Committee, Planning Commission, and City Council.  For meeting days and times or if you have questions about the proposal, contact Michelle Dodds with the City of Phoenix at 602-256-5618.

Representing Downtown Voices Coalition on the task force have been Steve Weiss (Chair) and Beatrice Moore (Treasurer).  We’ve made available the following background materials: (1) staff report, (2) proposed boundaries, and (3) proposal language.  Click here to review and download.