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History

Aerial photo of Chandler High School, 1965, photo provided by Chandler Museum
Image of Chandler's Mayor,Jerry Brooks, who was seeking to attract high tech companies to the City.

A product of community leadership, clear vision and unwavering determination, the Chandler Center for the Arts (CCA) is a testament to Chandler’s passionate commitment to the arts. 

In the mid 80s, Chandler Mayor Jerry Brooks was seeking to attract high-tech companies to the city as part of his economic development plan. Mayor Brooks and city leaders had set their sights on Intel Corporation who was looking for cities in the U.S. to expand their operations. Mayor Brooks knew Chandler could be an attractive location to companies if it could illustrate its high quality of life, including stellar schools, arts and entertainment options, and nice sunny weather.

At the same time Mayor Brooks was pondering how to compete against other cities, the Chandler Unified School District was looking for an auditorium for its high school. It was then that Mayor Brooks got an idea. 

“Originally I was engaged to design a high-school auditorium which I was in the process of designing,” said Dr. Wendell Rossman of SPS+ Architects. “But one morning, I was having a technical discussion with the project director, and in walked the superintendent and the mayor. The mayor said, “Stop everything! We have decided to work together on this, between the Chandler Unified School District and the City of Chandler.”

Rossman’s resulting design for the Chandler Center for the Arts is an acoustical and technical masterpiece, providing a superb quality of sound for live performances. The central feature of the Center is its turntable divisible auditorium which allows for two rear sections of the main auditorium to rotate 180 degrees to create two more intimate performance spaces that can be used at the same time: The 346-seat Hal Bogle Theatre and the 250-seat Recital Hall. For large scale performances, the “pods” open to create the Center’s full 1508 seat theater.  The Center also has a 2,000 square foot gallery space, The Gallery at CCA, and brings in multiple exhibits throughout the year.  The Center also has several important pieces of public art including Southwest artist Merrill Mahaffey's "Morning At Saddle Canyon." 

Patrons and artists alike have hailed the Center’s acoustics as being among the best in the country and world. The walls between the separate performance areas prevent sound interference, thus allowing up to three productions to run simultaneously. As envisioned by Mayor Brooks and other community leaders, Chandler Center for the Arts is a “shared-use” facility, hosting major performing artists and cultural events each weekend, and hosting C.U.S.D. students during the week, primarily for school arts curriculum and student performances.

The Chandler Cultural Foundation, formed in 1989, is the nonprofit organization which serves as the programming and fundraising entity of the Chandler Center for the Arts. The Chandler Center for the Arts now serves over 210,000 people annually, with a full calendar of performances and concerts of nationally and internationally recognized artists and entertainers, its outreach programs for youth, and its dedication to the visual arts with rotating exhibitions in its two gallery spaces, The Gallery at CCA and the Vision Gallery.

Wendell Rossman Architect

Image of the Architect, Wendell Rossman, who lead the design team for the Chandler Center of the Arts

Phoenix Architect Wendell Ernst Rossman  (Nov 21, 1923 - June 22, 2017) led the design team for the Chandler Center for the Arts. His experimental work in concrete forms during the '60s, such as St. Maria Goretti Church and Arizona State University's Manzanita Hall, are now local landmarks. Rossman developed the Turntable Divisible Auditorium for Chandler Center for the Arts, a design solution which has now become widespread internationally. He is also known for designing the Skydome at Northern Arizona University, considered the largest wood-frame structure in the world. His architecture firm SPS+Architects was established in 1960, setting precedent for innovative design. The architecture firm continues the design traditions of Rossman still today. 

Historical Timeline and Key Dates

  • 1988 Ground Breaking at Chandler Boulevard and Arizona Avenue
  • 1989 Chandler Cultural Foundation Formed
  • 1989 Hal Bogle Theatre Dedicated
  • 1989 First performances of Ballet Etudes & Spirit of Christmas
  • 1989 August 25 ~ Chandler Center for the Arts Grand Opening, Comedian Steve Allen
  • 1996 First Summer Concert Series
  • 1997 Vision Gallery Grand Opening
  • 1998 First Annual Mariachi Festival
  • 2000 November 11 ~ Rosemary Clooney Performance
  • 2001 February 10 ~ Chaka Khan Performance
  • 2006 Chandler Center for the Arts Receives the Governor’s Arts Award for Community Contribution
  • 2006 Institution of the Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards
  • 2006 The Bogle Family receives the first Chandler Cultural Foundation Applause Award, APS receives the first Chandler Cultural Foundation Business Award
  • 2007 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Zeyna Kirdar -Applause Award, SRP – Business Arts Awards
  • 2008 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Steena Murray -Applause Award, The Virginia G. Piper Trust – Business Arts Awards
  • 2009 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Midge Karczewski -Applause Award, The Crowne Plaza Resort & Conference Center – Business Arts Awards
  • 2009 -10 $6.7 million in renovations – create plaza, glass installations, infrastructure and signage
  • 2009 First performance of Zoppé, An Italian Family Circus
  • 2009 Chandler Center for Arts begins offering Summer Theatre Camps, Circus Camps and School Break Camps for Kids
  • 2011 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Harriet Barnes Rickert -Applause Award, Serrano’s Restaurants – Business Arts Awards
  • 2012 First “Eat Your Art Out Chandler” Fundraising Event
  • 2012 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Jerry Brooks -Applause Award, Chandler Regional Medical Center – Business Arts Awards
  • 2013 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Jay Gorham -Applause Award, Brighton Collectibles – Business Arts Awards
  • 2013 January 26 ~ First appearance of Cesar Millan
  • 2014 January 25 ~ Dick Van Dyke Performance
  • 2014 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Gary and Lydia Gonzales -Applause Award, Wells Fargo – Business Arts Awards
  • 2015 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Don and Mary Henegar -Applause Award, Ocotillo Golf Resort – Business Arts Awards
  • 2015 Chandler Cultural Foundation Adopts Program Investment Fund to present emerging and innovative artists
  • 2016 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Linda Yarbrough -Applause Award, Intel Corporation – Business Arts Awards
  • 2017 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Bob and Sharon Meko -Applause Award, Crescent Crown Distributing– Business Arts Awards
  • 2018 March 8 ~ k.d. lang Performance ~ 25th Anniversary performance of her album Ingénue
  • 2018 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Anne DeRose -Applause Award, Big Two Toyota Scion of Chandler – Business Arts Awards
  • 2019 Chandler Cultural Foundation Arts Awards: Jeanne Forbis -Applause Award, First Credit Union – Business Arts Awards

 

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