Culture News

Mary Stephens Leaves Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center

Mary Stephens announced via Facebook on Sunday, August 17, that she had left Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center as of August 15 to focus on other projects.

The Phoenix native, who won a Big Brain Award earlier this year, had owned the 25-bed hostel since 2010, when she bought it from her mother.

Without Stephens at the helm, the future of the hostel isn't quite clear.

See also: Mary Stephens of Phoenix Hostel: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Urban Vision (VIDEO)

"We are still working out the details of the future of the Phoenix Hostel," Stephens says via Facebook messenger, noting that, while she no longer owns the hostel, it is still in her family. "I am not sure if it will remain a hostel in 2015, that remains to be seen."

The hostel has served as a cultural hub in the Garfield Neighborhood, hosting creatives and travelers from around the world and presenting performances, poetry, and other art events. Recently, Stephens launched an artist residency program at the hostel.

It's just those types of events and programs that Stephens says she will focus on.

Stephens works as a professor at Arizona State University's School of Film, Dance and Theatre and is producing director of the university's Performance in the Borderlands program, which has produced banned plays (among other events) and is, according to ASU's official description, "dedicated to the understanding and promotion of cultural performance in the borderlands."

"I have a lot of national and bi-national projects I am working on which need my full attention and time," she says. "I am also working with ASU and doing some great projects with the university and would like to focus more on these projects and movements."

In addition to launching what she describes as a "very ambitious and exciting new season" for ASU and Performance in the Borderlands, she has quite a bit on her schedule.

While PID received a Creative Capital MAP Fund grant earlier this year to develop and original piece of theater with nationally recognized artists about border violence, its Banned Plays series is going national. And the program's season kickoff is a bi-national collaboration with rapper Bocafloja (the hostel's first-ever artist in residence) and ASU that will include a concert from the performer on Thursday, September 4, and a poetry reading and book signing Friday, September 5. Each event will take place at Herberger Theater Center. Tickets are available via

"This is groundbreaking work, and I am proud to continue the work we are doing."

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski