Experimental Art Festival pushes envelope

By Isela Castro

Fine Arts Editor

The 4th Annual Phoenix Experimental Arts Festival is still over a month away, but production and planning for the upcoming February 2009 show has been in tow since the summer.

An artistic and experimental forum for avant garde dance, music, visual and performance art, the Phoenix Experimental Arts Festival is a signature event of PVCC’s Division of Fine and Performing Arts known for driving forward art that thinks and acts “outside the box.”

The need for an outlet dedicated to alternative, non-traditional artistic expression is clear says Dr. Christopher Scinto, division chair of PVCC’s Fine and Performing Arts.

“The festival is an outlet for the continued exploration of the arts by artists and performers who are not satisfied with past trends or artistic ideals. The have a strong desire to move their artistic discipline forward by any means necessary,” says Scinto.

The Experimental Arts Festival provides that forum. Different from other events presented throughout the year at PVCC which generally have a pure corps of student talent behind them, the festival offers a more sophisticated level of artistic programming that may or may not include PVCC talent. It is intended to support professional artists in the community interested in redefining the conceptual or experiential boundaries of their craft.

Overwhelmingly, they are artists who are forward thinking and incorporate new technologies or hybrid delivery methods into what is traditionally expected in their disciplines, says Scinto. A band fusing electronics with 4-channel surround sound, a dance group incorporating video projections into performance or a theater company building an audio delivery system to enhance presentation are all examples of innovation in traditional delivery, he says.

Such is the case with many of the performing artists on the roster for the 2009 Phoenix Experimental Art Festival, some of whom are returning artists. The music category will include contemporary music ensembles Crossing 32nd Street (founded and directed by Scinto), Duo 46 and cutting edge jazz quartet Jiggle. Dance selections will be offered by Scorpius Dance Theatre, Via Corpo Dance Research, CONDER/dance, Armadillo Dance Project and Mary Fitzgerald Dance. Theatre performances by Theatre in my Basement and Jeff Falk complete the round of 2009 performances.

It is not enough that the themes and artistic content of the Phoenix Experimental Art Festival be cutting edge, however. All aspects leading up to the show, from the submission process to marketing and promotional strategy, are highly modernized.

Artist submissions were developed and submitted as early as June via CD or DVD format, in order to allow enough time for review by the Division of Fine & Performing Arts and to plan for scheduling, production and technical needs. This lead time is also used to develop publicity materials and public relations communications that must be pitched to media outlets prior the fall semester end. Finally, FPA uses online media to promote the festival. The official event website, phoenixXfestival.com, provides direct links to artist websites and other information and includes a promotional video executed in the same vein as many of the performances it represents.

The venue for the 4th Annual Phoenix Experimental Arts Festival is the Center for Performing Arts located at 34th Street and Union Hills at the east end of the Paradise Valley Community College campus, boasting the latest technology and state-of-the-art lighting system, sound and audiovisual equipment.

Media partner and co-sponsor Phoenix New Times will also work to ensure the right audience is reached by PVCC’s promotional efforts.

“The readership of Phoenix New Times is into technology, live performance, challenging subject matter and typically a younger age demographic,” says Scinto. Print ads in the Phoenix New Times and online newsletters will attract the art-voyeur set to whom the festival caters.

Admission to the Phoenix Experimental Arts Festival ($15 per night) is slightly elevated above what PVCC audiences may expect. Scinto explains this is directly commensurate with the higher level of performance quality and cost of production.

“Funds generated from the event are used to cover PR and marketing, event staffing and production needs. In addition, all performing artists receive a small stipend for their participation,” he says.

Ultimately, all the elements of outstanding talent, production, promotion and venue come together for one purpose—to support daring and courageous art that challenges traditional views and transforms cultural standards. “We support artists who take chances, artists who take risks,” says Scinto.

Performances in the Phoenix Experimental Arts Festival are intended for adult audiences and may contain strong language and mature themes.

Festival passes can be obtained at the Center for Performing Arts Box Office, open Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and one hour prior to curtain on Feb. 6 and 7. Main stage performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Call 602-787-7738 for more information or visit www.phoenixXfestival.com.


Last updated: Dec. 17, 2008

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