Heads up, Phoenix: You don't have to spend a ton of time finding things to do on the cheap. We already did the hard part, digging up events for the New Times' calendar ranging from a museum game night and a group bike ride to interactive light rail performance art. Now, it's up to you to get out there and experience the budget-friendly options the Valley has to offer — all for $10 or less.
Wine + Bingo Night
If your misspent youth involved both/either Golden Girls reruns and/or blue hair, then Wine + Bingo at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art might combine a few of your deeply held passions. Test your mettle — and by that we mean knowledge of wine and fine art — during the 21-and-over game night at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 17, in the museum’s lounge, 7374 East Second Street. The winner earns not only bragging rights but also an original piece of art by Malena Barnhart, an ASU art grad whose confectionery-colored works explore the marginalization of women. Admission is $10 for the general public and $8 for museum members. Tickets are available via SMoCA's website. Becky Bartkowski
Conservation Science Night
Though Conservation Science Night at the Phoenix Zoo is for kids age 8 through teens and their families, that might include you (stranger things have happened) or you might know a family that would love for you to aunt or uncle it up for the evening. The young’uns will meet scientists, befriend nature, and master such skills as:
• compiling squirrel data, because God knows the squirrels aren’t;
• counting snails, who are slow enough to be counted;
• using radio telemetry to locate animals (something we frankly need help with on every zoo visit).
The next Conservation Science Night is Friday, February 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 455 North Galvin Parkway. Admission’s free, but call 602-914-4333 to reserve a spot. Visit the Phoenix Zoo website. Julie Peterson
"Speaking the Unspeakable"
When it comes to discussing racism, Americans historically have been given to opacity, in more ways than one. We’re certainly not transparent about it and we’re often unclear about its definition at any given point in time. Oversimplifications dismiss nuance and critical thinking; overcomplicating it agitates the murk. In 2017, race relations are as tenuous as ever from sea to shining sea. With 320 million under wing, vast and disquieted, we need to clear things up. Valley residents can start by attending the free event “Speaking the Unspeakable: A Conversation on Colorblindness, Racism, and Antiracism,” a panel discussion hosted by ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. Stop by the Memorial Union, 301 East Orange Mall on ASU’s Tempe campus, on Saturday, February 18, for a number of engaging panel discussion throughout the day. Learn. Grow. We can all do better. Visit ASU's website or call 602-496-1376 for details. Rob Kroehler
Light Rail Plays
It’s okay, it’s only a play. It’s practically the motto for Rising Youth Theatre’s Light Rail Plays performed on select Valley Metro light rail trains and stations in downtown Phoenix. Launched in 2014, the annual event pairs professional artists with local youth, then takes them through the process of creating and performing short works with diverse themes. Tour guides with signs reading “It’s okay …” tag along so riders know they’re watching live performance rather than entering the Twilight Zone.
This year’s Light Rail Plays lineup includes eight new five-minute plays. They’re being performed several times each day February 17 through 19 and again from the 23rd through 26th on the light rail route that runs along Central Avenue between Roosevelt Street and Camelback Road. Performances on Saturday, February 18, start at 4 p.m. You’ll need a light rail pass ($2 for a single ride or $4 for a day of rides) to ride the light rail, like any other day, but there’s no charge to watch the plays. Visit the Rising Youth Theatre website. Lynn Trimble
Read on for an experimental art night, a group bike ride, and a celebration of Latin and Hispanic culture.
Experimental Art Night
Think you know local dance? Odds are, you’ve mostly gravitated towards a dance style or company that best suits your taste. That’s risky business for dance fans eager to explore the rich diversity of the Phoenix dance scene.
Enter [nueBOX], a new works development group headed by ASU alum Julie Akerly, which gives local artists a platform for presenting experimental works, and audiences a way to enjoy them. Watch six dance works in vastly different styles, from improvisation to classical dance of India, during Experimental Art Night.
It kicks off inside the acting studio at Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 18. Tickets are free, but space is limited and $5 donations are suggested. Visit [nueBOX] online. Lynn Trimble
Downtown Pedal Around
For those looking to get a little better acquainted with all that downtown Phoenix has to offer, there really is no better way than on a bike. Even for veteran downtowners, the pace of a leisurely bike ride can expose you to a whole new world right where you live. On Sunday, February 19, Grid Bike Share, in conjunction with the Phoenix Spokes People and Downtown Phoenix Inc., will host a brand-new bike ride, the Downtown Pedal Around, aimed at cyclists of all levels getting comfortable with the rules of the road and the lay of downtown streets. At 4 p.m., the ride will start at Civic Space Park, 424 North Central Avenue, and traverse Phoenix streets, ultimately ending at Willie’s Taco Joint for tacos and margaritas. If you want to join in, but don’t own a bike, you can rent a bike from Grid at the park. To set up a bike share account and learn more about future events like this, go to the Grid Bikes website. The ride is free to join. Heather Hoch
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La Gran Fiesta
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating the 30th season of Sunday A’Fair, which is cause for us to celebrate. These free concerts/mini-festivals transform Civic Center Park into an oasis of cultural and musical stimuli, including performances and crafts from local artists.
Things get extra-jolly on Sunday, February 19, when the A’Fair steps up to present La Gran Fiesta: A Celebration of Latin and Hispanic Cultures from noon to 4 p.m. Visual art, mariachis, and dancers will warm up the crowd for LA’s Salt Petal, a pop combo that incorporates Argentine, Brazilian, and other influences for a danceable, frisky sound. Flor y Piedra Trio and Andres Martinez and Ritmo Latino are also on deck.
Bring a picnic (minus booze) or purchase delicacies (including booze) once you’re there. Admission is free, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art also offers free admission during the event. Visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website or call 480-499-8587. Julie Peterson