NEW Bag Size Restrictions starting 1/1/2023: The Phoenix Convention Center and Venues are implementing a restricted bag size policy at Symphony Hall and The Orpheum.

No bags larger than clutch size (4.5″ x 6.5″) will be permitted. Medical and diaper bags will be allowed. Thank you for understanding.

Phoenix Symphony participates in CALA Festival

If you can think of a Valley arts organization, big or small, odds are it’s part of the CALA Festival.

A two-month initiative celebrating the arts and culture of Latinos and people of the Americas, the inaugural festival includes more than 40 creative groups staging dozens of performances, exhibits, festivals and showcases across the Valley between Sept. 14 and Nov. 16.

From a pops concert by the Phoenix Symphony and a Dia de los Muertos exhibit at Xico in Chandler to a U.S. debut exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum and a Spanish-to-English translated play at Teatro Bravo, the CALA offerings are as different as the organizations themselves.

“The festival will show the richness of cultural diversity, in this case Latino,” said Myra Millinger, treasurer of Celebracion Artistica de las Americas Alliance, the non-profit behind the festival.

“I’m not Latino, and neither is (fellow board member) Grady Gammage Jr. What we’re really saying with this festival is that, through arts and culture, bridges can be built.”

At the heart of the festival is a desire to change the conversation about Latinos, Millinger said. It is hoped the works will help relieve some of the political tension building in the state and help transform Arizona’s image as a desert to that of a culturally diverse oasis.

The festival had been in the works for years – even before SB 1070 catapulted Arizona’s debate over illegal immigration onto the national stage – as an idea of the now-defunct Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture.

The CALA Alliance was founded last year, with businessman Ruben Alvarez as president.

According to a PEW Hispanic Center report, Arizona has the fifth-highest Latino population in the country with more than 2 million.

With so many CALA Festival offerings, here are 10 not-to-miss events:

Artists at ALAC

The Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, an ambitious and dedicated downtown Phoenix gallery and events space, will host several indigenous Mexican artists, including Juan Chawuk, a Tojolobal Maya from Chiapas who creates allegorical paintings dealing with community and nature, and Jacobo Angeles, a Oaxacan known for his folk wood carvings of animals painted with intricate motifs.

Details: Through Nov. 16. Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, 147 E. Adams St., Phoenix. Free. 602-254-9817,

‘Mixing It Up: Building an Identity’

Featuring works by more than 40 artists, this exhibit examines how the relationship between the United States and Mexican cultures, social mores and politics influence the works of Chicano and Mexican-American artists. Recurring themes include personal and national identity, pop culture, family, community, labor and the border. A collaboration between the Tempe Center for the Arts and the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University. Grand opening is from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17..

Details: Sept. 17- Jan. 28. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays. Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. Free. 480-350-2829, /gallery.


Phoenix Latin troupe Teatro Bravo presents this play, based on the life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Coupled with dance, masks and giant puppets, the production’s surrealistic tone highlights the conflicts faced by the artist, including her marriage to painter Diego Rivera, her affair with Leon Trotsky, romances with women and a tragic accident. A pay-what-you-can preview will be Friday, Sept. 23.

Details: Sept. 24-Oct. 2. Playhouse on the Park, Viad Building, 1850 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $15. 602-258-1800,

Phoenix Symphony Pops Concert

Doc Severinsen, former trumpeter and leader of Johnny Carson’s band on “The Tonight Show,” will play a pops concert with his band, the San Miguel Five, and the Phoenix Symphony. Severinsen and guitarist Gil Gutierrez crafted the program, which includes classical Spanish songs, jazz, Latin American ballads and movie scores, especially for the CALA Festival.

Details: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Tickets start at $18. Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St., Phoenix. 602-495-1999, phoenix

Scottsdale International Film Festival

Of this year’s 36-film lineup, the festival’s spotlight will shine brightest on Latin American films. From romantic comedies to documentaries, the schedule is filled with some of the best independent and studio films from around the world. Check out the centerpiece film, “Amigo,” about a village mayor living during the Philippine-American War.

Details: Sept. 30-Oct. 4. Harkins Shea 14 Theatres, 7354 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale. Tickets start at $8. 480-948-6555, scottsdale

Phoenix Boys Choir and Schola Cantorum de Mexico

Part of a cultural-exchange program with Mexico, the Valley’s Grammy-winning youth choir will perform with Schola Cantorum de Mexico, a boys and girls choir. The program will feature performances by both groups, individually and together. This production is one of eight included in the CALA Festival’s Target Free Days.

Details: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6. Memorial Hall, Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. Free. 602-264-5328,

‘Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World’

Poet Alberto Rios, a Nogales, Ariz., native, and James E. Garcia, artistic director of Phoenix’s New Carpa Theater Company, teamed up on this production, commissioned by the Mesa Arts Center. The play follows poet Javier Arturo Puente, who learns on his 21st birthday that he was adopted from an orphanage in Nogales, Mexico. He then decides to put off graduate school to traverse the U.S.-Mexican border to explore his roots.

Details: Oct. 21-Nov. 6. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. $20, $11 for students. 480-644-6500,

‘The Sun Serpent’

José Cruz González created this production for the 35th-anniversary season of Childsplay, a Southeast Valley theater for young audiences. Told through the eyes of an indigenous youth named Anahuac, the play is a tale of Hernán Cortés’ conquest of Mexico and the Aztecs’ tragic belief that the Spanish conquistador was a deity. Performers will wear masks made by artist Zarco Guerrero. Recommended for age 8 and older. Discount tickets $12 during two preview performances Oct. 22-23.

Details: Oct. 29- Nov. 13. 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays. Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. $25. 480-350-2822,

Dia de los Muertos

Commemorating Mexico’s Day of the Dead tradition, which honors loved ones who have passed, this annual festival captures the day’s celebratory spirit. The market showcases traditional and contemporary merchandise, crafts from local artists and food vendors. Check out the altar display, featuring handcrafted shrines, and the intricate wood carvings in the “Masters of Oaxaca” program, an artist-in-residence initiative with carvers from the southwestern Mexico state. The festival ends with La Procesión, a communal march with music and dance.

Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 29-30. Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. Free with admission, $8-$18. 480-941-1225,

La Gran Fiesta

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts showcases Mexican, Caribbean and South American culture at this free festival. Performing groups include Flamenco de Leon, Mariachi Corazon Latino and Puerto Rican Bomba y Plena. Kids can make Day of the Dead sugar skulls, corn-husk dolls and piñatas. Attendees can try Latin-inspired food and shop at the marketplace. Grammy Award winner Sergio Mendes, founder of Brasil ’66, will perform a ticketed show in conjunction with the festival.

Details: Noon-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 5, 6. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St. Free. Show tickets start at $39. 480-994-2787, scottsdaleperforming

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