Interactive Map and archive of cultural-arts centers and community organizing spaces that no longer exist in Central and South Phoenix. Focus of the archive are spaces owned by Black, Indigenous, women-owned, LGBTQ-owned, migrant, and Latinx communities or spaces that supported these communities. Specific attention to the relationship between displacement of already vulnerable communities, light rail implementation, and real estate development. We have included current cultural organizations operated by people of the global majority for people of the global majority. Touch a location or photo for more information about the spaces. Purple = Closed location | Yellow = Currently open
Displaced or permanently closed
(1) Indigenous Ancestral Lands --- The entire "City of Phoenix" is built on top of the Salt River Pima, Peeposh, Akhimel O'odham and Gila River Native Tribes. Continued displacement of Native people and Native ancestral lands reanimate neo-colonial land theft and violence. The canal system and rivers have been home to generations of Native people and continue to be an integral part of Native life to this day.
5th Row Dance Studio-- 5th Row Dance Studios was a safe space for expressive freedom for artists in movement, visual and theatre arts. Imagined and brought to life by three queer, brown/BIPOC, creative minds, Angelina Ramirez, Monica Robles and Ruben Gonzalez. The studio supported BIPOC and Queer artists, experimental theatre and dancers while most locations in the arts district mostly supported white artists. Movement and music spilled out onto streets of what was once, the arts and culture hub of Phoenix. 5th Row Dance Studios was priced out after the development following light rail in 2017.
AZ Workers Rights Center ---- One of the most important mobilization spaces supporting migrants in the City of Phoenix. IAWJ challenges workplace injustice by collaborating with, educating, and mobilizing working people, providing direct services and assistance, developing leadership, and advocating for just labor policy and practice. Through strategic collaborative efforts, we strive to develop political consciousness and civic engagement for a worker friendly Arizona. Among the important work with mothers, undocumented workers was the work of Queer Cultura, a monthly LGBTQ trans/drag night of performance.
Azukar Coffee Shop --- Azukar was owned an operated by Latina mother, Sandra Flores, was a cultural cafe and hub for organizing and community members to meet and discuss social issues. Azukar functioned as South Phoenix's hot spot for cultural and social activities that served Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities. Read more about this wonderful space: https://www.azmirror.com/2021/09/08/light-rail-construction-the-final-straw-for-azukar-coffee-the-latest-south-phoenix-business-to-close/. Sadly, Azukar was forced to close during the light rail expansion in South Phoenix and lack of support for small business by the City of Phoenix and Valley Metro.
ASU International Artist Residency at Combine Studios Combine Studios International Residency opened in 2010 as an extension of the ASU Art Museum. The mission of the space was to bring the arts to local .. community. At this point the neighborhood had NO housing skyscrapers anywhere in the surrounding areas other than downtown Phoenix. The residency was started by previous ASU Art Museum, Gordon Knox with the owners of the building who were also local Phoenix artists, Matt Moore and Carrie Marill (the building was never owned by ASU). All artists working on exhibitions at the ASU Art Museum would stay at the residency, the space was also used to have public events with local artists and community members. In 2014 ASU Art Museum curator Julio Cesar Morales launched the “Project Space” on the bottom floor of the building and invited local, national and international artist to produce experimental exhibition and public programing. The inaugural project was Pablo Helguera’s Libreria Donceles which transform the space with10,000 donated Spanish-language books into a book store, which also marked the only Spanish-language book store in Phoenix. The book store became a very popular community space and influenced the opening of “Palabras” a now-local Spanish language book store and art space. Below is a sample of BIPOC artists that where in residence and also key collaborators with the residency. The space closed in 2018 after the owners sold the building and moved to California. The ASU Art Museum activity look for a replacement space but by then rents had more than doubled and the residency presently closed. Artists: Alejandro Almanza-Pereda Margarita Cabrera Tania Candiani Cognate Collective Sofia Cordova Sergio de La Torre Ana Teresa Fernandez Cynthia Guitrierez Jeffery Gibson Pablo Helguera Interspecifics Tony Labat Christine Lee Miguel Palma Yoshua Okon Pepon Osario Post Commodity Gabriel Orozco Claudia Peña Salinas Miguel Ange Rios Eduardo Sarabia Antonia Wright
The Green Haus ---- The Green Haus was founded by Cole Reed and was a Black Queer woman-owned gift store, gallery and gathering space. In 2015, Cole and her family were forced to leave Phoenix due to anti-LGBTQ legislation, and because of rising costs in development. It is imperative that equitable transit oriented development take into consideration the politics of place. "We were ecstatic upon hearing that Cole and Dana Reed would fill Roosevelt Row's long-empty, shoebox-shape building that formerly housed drag bar 307 Lounge. High expectations for a quirky, interesting, and, most important, fun place to shop on RoRo were happily met with the pair's GreenHaus Gallery + Boutique. Its offerings include reupholstered and refinished furniture, vintage interior décor finds, and paintings from local artists. The shop's artsy leanings are no surprise. Preserved behind removable drywall at the back of GreenHaus is one of Phoenix's oldest murals by Ted DeGrazia." Sad to have lost on of Phoenix most important Black-owned businesses.
Space 55 Theatre ---- S55 formed in 2006 by Shawna Franks, Space 55 Theatre Ensemble is dedicated to developing new, under-represented and innovative theatre, and presenting it at an affordable price in a relaxed, casual environment. Space 55 is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in downtown Phoenix. Exposing audiences to the cutting edge of live theatre, Space 55 has quickly established itself as a vital force in the Phoenix arts scene. In addition to its own original productions, the Space 55 performance venue hosts a wide variety of live entertainment by diverse performers, including improvisational comedy, music and other special events. Space 55 was displaced by rising cost and the building was torn down for new development. However, Space 55 continues to deliver exciting work by under-represented artists in PHX at their new space. More info: https://www.space55.org/
Amsterdam Gay Bar --- Amsterdam's Club was opened along Central Avenue in 1998 by local gay nightlife impresario Steven Rogers, who owned notorious Scottsdale spot The Works way back in the day and later launched DWNTWN (originally known as Crowbar) and Palazzo next door to Amsterdam. It's undergone a number of changes over the last 15 years and was more of an upscale lounge and piano bar kind of place with late-night dancing. While ostensibly gay and lesbian-focused, we've known many straight women who loved going to Amsterdam to dance. https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/downtown-phoenix-lgbt-dance-club-amsterdam-to-close-saturday-night-6566955
Holgas Apartments --- In the mid-2000s this spot in Downtown Phoenix was the place to hear up-and-coming bands play informal front yard shows. Nowadays there's still plenty of art to be seen at Holgas Gallery but it's usually not the music genre. It's an apartment complex for the poor, starving artists types where each living space also doubles as a gallery. On First Fridays visitors can meander through the complex checking out each resident's work in a truly intimate – maybe even almost too intimate – setting. Though it may no be much to look at on the outside (the building was built in the 60s as a hotel) you can bet there's plenty to see within those gray concrete walls. Holgas was eventually bought out and now is commercial housing. IN 2015, Holgas shifted to the Combine Art Space which focused on Latinx artists in residency from Mexico. One of the most unique residency spaces in Arizona, Combine helped facilitate international exchange between the US/MX between 2015 - 2019.
Circles Tapes & Records ---A Valley landmark is going out of business after nearly four decades in downtown Phoenix. The owners of Circles Discs and Tapes, at the corner of Central Avenue and McKinley, recently announced they’re calling it quits. “We have people come in all the time and say they’ve been coming here for 30 to 40 years,” said Circles employee Zak Sofaly. The famous record store sold some of the most progressive and diverse bands and artists in the city. Circles employees say the addition of light rail and an overall down economy was just too much to overcome. “Being a resident, its really sad,” said Jay Williams. “The economy has caused a lot of problems. I thought the light rail would bring people back but I haven’t seen that.” Circles will remain open until sometime after January 1. The exact closing date has yet to be determined. [Note: To read the full article, visit Downtown Phoenix fixture, Circles Discs & Tapes, closing.]
Valley of the Sunflowers (2010-2017): Developing dirt lots downtown, especially on those lots owned by the city, is a challenge for multiple reasons: funding, vision, planning, and politics. For the neighborhood to see development on this vacant land, a magic word must be evoked: temporary. With this in mind Valley of the Sunflowers was developed. The project on a vacant parcel between 5th and 6th Streets and Garfield and McKinley Streets will bring utility, beauty, and creative use to an abandoned lot in the heart of Roosevelt-if only temporarily. Downtowners and Sunflowers Sean Sweat made headlines when he tried to reach an agreement with the city to develop a downtown dog park on what is now a parking lot. There is still no downtown dog park, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking big. As an employee of Intel, he found grant opportunities and connected with Cindy Dach, Kenny Barrett and Braden Kay. Over drinks at the Rum Bar they discussed ideas and how the grants could be used to help downtown. Barrett suggested a simple, unique idea: a field of sunflowers. The four downtowners realized the multiple benefits of such a project: besides bringing color and life to a brown lot, the seed harvest could produce local sunflower oil to sell at the Phoenix Public Market and the oil could be used as biofuel for the nearby bioscience high school. Maybe even City Hall would be on board and willing to cooperate. Sweat was eventually able to secure a total of $22,000 through two grants from the Intel Foundation, the company’s charitable organization for community development. The first grant totaled $5,000. With the sustainability element of the project in place, Sweat created a budget and applied for an additional $17,000 “Sustainability in Action” grant through Intel. Again, he received the funds.
Center for Neighborhood Leadership
Center for Neighborhood Leadership
Combine Artist Space & Residency
ReFrame Youth Arts Center "Rio to the Mountain" is a youth-led mapping and storytelling project that makes visible cultural sites and histories important to youth. The group focused on places along the South Phoenix light rail line. The goal of this project is to preserve the stories and memory of significant sites that will likely be displaced by light rail implementation.