Culture News

Luis Ruiz Joins Tempe Center for the Arts as New General Manager

Luis Ruiz, who has 21 years of experience in venue management, has been hired by the City of Tempe as its new general manager and cultural facilities manager at Tempe Center for the Arts. He started on August 15.

His responsibilities include organizing and managing daily operations and administration for the arts center, an 88,000-square-foot performing and visual arts complex that opened in September 2007.

Most recently, Ruiz spent nine years as the theatrical venues manager with the City of Phoenix, where his responsibilities included budgeting, booking, and operations for the Orpheum Theatre and Symphony Hall, as well as overseeing the operational budget for Herberger Theater Center.

Ruiz is a classically trained tenor who holds a bachelor's degree in music business and an MBA in marketing and management from the University of Miami. Born and raised in Miami, the first-generation Cuban-American is a fluent Spanish-speaker.

Ruiz replaces Don Fassinger, who retired in June. Fassinger was cultural facilities manager for the City of Tempe during construction of the $65 million facility, funded by a 20-year temporary 0.1 percent sales tax that expires in 2020.

Tempe Center for the Arts includes a 600-seat proscenium theater, 200-seat black box theater, and a 3,500-square-foot art gallery. It’s also home to several works of public art – including trueNorth, a 2007 concrete, stainless steel, resin, and fire installation designed by Mayme Kratz and Mark Ryan.

Like Ralph Remington, who started as the Arts and Culture Deputy Director for the City of Tempe and Artistic Director for Tempe Center for the Arts on June 1, Ruiz will be involved with implementing the City of Tempe 2015 Arts and Culture Plan.

The plan includes several recommendations for Tempe Center for the Arts, focused primarily on increasing programming and participation that reflects the diversity of the Tempe community.

“We’re both from culturally diverse cities,” Ruiz says of working with Remington, who hails from Philadelphia.

Currently, the center has three resident companies and several additional partners, including Childsplay, CONDER/dance, and Desert Dance Theatre. Most recently, Stray Cat Theatre moved its productions to the venue.

“Right now, it’s primarily a rental facility with little programming,” Ruiz says of Tempe Center for the Arts. But that’s about to change, he says.

Although it was conceived as a venue for presenting primarily performances by community-based artists, Ruiz says future offerings likely will include more performances by nationally renowned artists.

Still, the venue remains committed to working with local artists, Ruiz says, noting that its intimate theater spaces are particularly well-suited to experimental and collaborative works.

Upcoming performances include Stray Cat Theatre’s production of playwright Annie Baker’s John, Ballet Arizona’s Ballet Under the Stars, and Childsplay’s Rock the Presidents.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble