CHANDLER, AZ — Chandler Center for the Arts is celebrating its 30th anniversary this weekend.
The center held its first performance on August 25, 1989. It was comedian Steve Allen, and at the time, the $10-million facility was one of the few things in the area.
Michelle Mac Lennan is the general manager of the center. She says Chandler has changed a lot since that first show.
"Now it's this vibrant, live scene. For the arts center, it's really been about reflecting our community as it's changed—the diversity of people," she said.
Mac Lennan says the center’s success is a testimony to the vision the founders had all those years ago.
Chandler Center for the Arts has three performance spaces and two art galleries. It partners with Chandler Unified School District, and the facility functions as a learning center for students Monday through Thursday.
In 30 years, the center has hosted more than 5,000 performances.
"A big transition for us when we brought k.d. lang for her 25th anniversary, just kind of elevating the caliber of national and international touring artists,” said Mac Lennan.
It's also had a few facelifts — a new outdoor design, renovated concessions and amenities, and the installation of a cutting-edge audio system.
But Mac Lennan says one thing remains constant: the center's impact on the growth of Chandler's downtown entertainment district.
Mac Lennan says 80 percent of the people who attend performances are from outside Chandler, and research shows the center had an $8.8 million impact in 2018.
"When people come to see a show, they don't just see a show. They go out for dinner, they go out for drinks, they may need childcare, they may spend a night at the hotel,” explained Mac Lennan.
So what's next? Mac Lennan says in the next few years, they hope to widen their reach.
"We use every minute of every day in this facility. We are going to expand into alternative spaces. We're going to take the arts to the community."
On its anniversary weekend, Chandler Center for the Arts will “take it back to 1989” with a retro concert Saturday night.
IF YOU GO:
Strangelove -The Depeche Mode Experience
Saturday, August 24 at 7:30pm
Tickets are $19.89.
Find out more about the center and upcoming-performances in its 2019-2020 season here.