Curtain rises again — finally — as the iconic Tempe Center for the Arts weathers the pandemic

Tempe Center for the Arts is reopening after being closed for well over a year due the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many other culture and entertainment facilities.  – file photos

At the Tony Awards last month, the Broadway community celebrated the re-opening of New York theaters after a long COVID-19 closure.

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Here in the Valley, we have a similar cause célèbre as Tempe Center for the Arts is back up and running.

The performance venue, gallery space and general get-together spot, opened in 2007 on the banks of the Rio Salado, had, like so many other culture and entertainment facilities, been closed for well over a year due the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the place has reopened, offering a diverse slate of theater, music and dance performances, as well as a variety of gallery exhibitions.

This does not mean, however, that everything is back to pre-COVID status at TCA.

Eileen May, general manager and managing director of the center at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, recently filled us in on what’s the same and what’s different at TCA.


Question: How long has the center been closed?

Answer: Since mid-March 2020.


Q: What went into the decision to re-open?

A: The city evaluated how COVID has been progressing, and felt that we are able to open up arts and cultural programs for the community’s benefit by putting in place appropriate public-health measures that protect patrons, staff and artists.


Q: What precautions are in place for the public? Staff? Performers?

A: Masks are required for everyone at TCA. We have initiated a vaccination requirement for our audiences, and we will check vaccination cards and/or digital proof of full vaccination at each of our public ticketed events.


Q: What if any projects, improvements or alterations were done at the center during the closure?

A: The team at TCA has been working on improving all our processes for our audiences, clients, staff and performers. The biggest improvement is our audience experience. Our frontline staff have been re-trained to focus on customer care as the foundation of all that we do. We are working on creating a more transformative experience for our audiences, so that TCA can truly become the “living room of Tempe” as it was originally intended.

We have also re-evaluated the programming at the center, focusing more on our local artists and exploring the intersection of our strong local arts community and the national arts lens. Expansion of residencies and connecting with the local Indigenous and Native communities are a high priority, as is finding a link between arts activities and wellness practice.

More information: or 480-350-2822.




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