One of the Valley’s oldest and most beloved educational institutions is also a cornerstone in the community, offering free or low-cost events nearly year-round. This allows its neighbors to have a stake in educating the future. Phoenix College (PC), the 100+ year old community college, has deep roots in Arizona. And part of those roots are fed not by the 17,000+ students it sees each year, but by community involvement and access.
Each year, PC offers a wide variety of events open to the public. These events serve multiple purposes. Sometimes it’s to allow students to perform or practice in front of a larger audience. Sometimes it’s to open the lines of direct input from the community. Other times it’s to bring in speakers that the public normally wouldn’t hear or speak with. And it’s always to enlighten or challenge audiences to think in new and different ways.
“One of the real differentiators of Phoenix College is that we are located in the middle of a historic Phoenix neighborhood,” said Dr. Larry Johnson, President of Phoenix College. “We are truly unique in that we are indeed an urban campus that defines what it means to be a community college. We are in the center of the arts and culture center of Phoenix proper -- within a 3-mile radius to Roosevelt Row, the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Theatre and more. As such, our goal is to create opportunities to invite the community onto campus. Our opportunities are more intimate in nature, designed to create a space to engage in respectful dialogue and ask questions.”
One of the college’s signature events is the President's Speaker Series. PC offers this intimate event to introduce students, employees and the community to prominent leaders. The goal is to give students and others the chance to broaden their perspective about the metropolitan Phoenix region and its impactful issues. PC invites highly visual individuals who challenging the way Phoenix thinks about key topics like public education, public safety and state legislation. Last year the college hosted Arizona State Representative Reginald Bolding, Corey Woods Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District, Chad Gestson Chief of the Phoenix Police Department and Phoenix Chief Jeri Williams.
More than community dialogue, Phoenix College embraces the art scene, providing ample entertainment (and usually for under $10) for everyone. Located in the middle of the Valley’s Theatre Arts District, the college houses the Eric Fischl Gallery, which is open to the public (with space to rent available too for visiting artists). The gallery features student talent and local artists all year, with prominent traveling artists’ shows throughout the year.
The contemporary American painter, sculptor and author helps aspiring artists each year when he honors the college’s influence on his life by returning annually with world-famous artists and art enthusiasts to present the Eric Fischl Series.
The Series, held at the Phoenix Art Museum, draws hundreds of students, artists, and community members from across the city and state for an engaging discourse about various art themes. As part of the event, Fischl presents the prestigious Vanguard Award to Phoenix College students whose artwork receives “Best in Show” in the Student Art Competition.
“It’s important that we provide arts and culture not only for our students to gain real-life performance experience, but also as an outreach to our surrounding community,” said Dr. Johnson. “Art reaches across great divides and brings people together through emotion, talent, ambition and passion.”
Thespians and theatre lovers find their home at PC each semester with award-winning theatre productions. There is always is a mix of performances between traditional and thought-provoking, just as you would expect from a college campus.
Music aficionados can find their beat at Phoenix College as well. The Concert Choir has been performing for over 60 years with a mix of musical styles and periods, accompanied and unaccompanied. ProCantus Chamber Singers is primarily an a cappella ensemble, performing a wide variety - from Renaissance to jazz. The choir also gives back to the community, regularly singing at area high schools, community centers and assisted living facilities.
PC’s McConnell Singers Women's Community Choir was established in 1960 and has become a fixture in the Valley of the Sun arts community. The group’s mission is to provide women of various backgrounds and musical abilities the opportunity to share their voice and experience a variety of repertoire. The choir brings choral music to audiences who might not otherwise have access to the art form. In fall 2007, Phoenix College began a mixed community chorus, called the Phoenix Community Choir which performs a variety of choral literature for various public performances.
Lest the voices steal all the thunder, be sure to grab a seat for one of the Phoenix College Instrumental Music Program events. The program is comprised of six categories of performance ensembles including Phoenix College Jazz Combos, Jazz Orchestra, Superstition Jazz Orchestra, Phoenix College Percussion Ensemble, Community Orchestra and Phoenix Concert Band.
To keep up with art and culture events happening on campus (all usually under $10), follow Phoenix College on all social media platforms @phoenixcollege.edu. Get updates on the fall lineup of President Speakers by bookmarking phoenixcollege.edu or via social media @phoenixcollege webinar.
To find out more about what Phoenix College offers, visit https://www.phoenixcollege.edu/.