Tempe Center for the Arts’ new exec has big plans for the Valley’s ‘Artistic Jewel’

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Luis Ruiz, new general manager of Tempe Center for the Arts, brings a wealth of experience to managing Valley venues such as the Orpheum, Phoenix Symphony Hall and the Herberger Theater, plus his drive to implement Tempe's arts plan.
Luis Ruiz, new general manager of Tempe Center for the Arts, brings a wealth of experience to managing Valley venues such as the Orpheum, Phoenix Symphony Hall and the Herberger Theater, plus his drive to implement Tempe’s arts plan.

By Diana Whittle

Tempe Center for the Arts has named Luis Ruiz as its new general manager, with responsibility for day-to-day operations of a facility touted as the “jewel in the crown” of a city known Valley-wide for its support of the arts.

On the job since Aug. 15, Ruiz comes most recently from the city of Phoenix with an impressive resume: During the last nine years he was responsible for the budgeting, booking and operations of  the Orpheum Theatre and Symphony Hall, along with operational budget oversight of Herberger Theater.

In total, Ruiz brings 21 years of venue management and a wealth of experience within the performing arts and facilities-management industry.

Ruiz says he loves what he does for a living and feels ready to polish the city’s artistic jewel while showcasing its many attributes and diverse entertainment choices to audiences.

“Tempe Center for the Arts has it all—from its picturesque location on Tempe Town Lake to its intimate and finely appointed theater,” said Ruiz. 

“Ours are some of the most intimate performance spaces in the Valley, bringing you close to the artists, whether it is in our lobbies for Hello Fridays and Walk-in-Wednesdays, or for a chamber music concert in our Gallery, or a main stage production in our Theater.”

His experience will be valuable as he implements the city’s ambitious Arts Plan, which was crafted in 2015 and is available on-line at www.tempe.gov/arts

The written plan is the city’s first comprehensive look at the implementation and accessibility of the arts for all Tempe residents. It’s the result of an extensive community outreach that gathered the impressions of nearly 900 people on their vision for the arts in the city.

The document will guide Ruiz as he oversees the center’s artistic vision and direction.

“We are all in agreement that we want to continue to provide our current partners with a venue that will support their art,” said Ruiz. 

“However, we want to enhance the current offerings with a wide variety of programming ranging from popular and classical to innovative and thought-provoking works.  I am interested in making certain that we offer programming as diverse as our community.”

Ruiz says he was lured from the biggest arts venues in the Valley to Tempe due to the impressive facility.

“I had the opportunity to visit Tempe Center for the Arts several times and was captivated by the architecture, both inside and out.

“Secondly, having read about the hiring of the new artistic director, Ralph Remington (profiled in the July 16th issue of Wrangler News), and the direction that the city wanted to take as a result of its 2015 Cultural Plan, I was excited about the opportunity to help shape the future of Tempe.”

Born and raised in Miami, Fla., Ruiz received his Bachelors in Music Business at the University of Miami and is a classically trained tenor.

He earned an MBA in Marketing and Management, also from the University of Miami.

A first generation Cuban-American, Ruiz, a fluent Spanish-speaker, is one of very few Hispanic venue managers in the nation. He is the Arizona Chapter representative for the International Association of Venue Managers.

Tempe Center for the Arts, sponsored by Northern Trust, opened in September 2007, and houses a state-of-the-art 600-seat proscenium theater, a 200-seat studio theater, and a 3,500 square-foot gallery.

Its Lakeside Room seats 200 and overlooks Tempe Town Lake, with views of the Papago and Camelback mountains.

Tempe Center for the Arts also is home to Childsplay, Lakeshore Music, CONDER/dance, Desert Dance Theatre, Stray Cat Theater and more.

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