Phoenix Theatre, originally founded as the Phoenix Players in 1920, is the oldest arts organizations in Arizona and remains one of the oldest operating arts organizations in the country. Although the Phoenix Players performed in a variety of spaces including schools and backyards, there was an inevitable need for a permanent dedicated theatre space. In 1924 the Heard Family offered the newly named, Phoenix Little Theatre their old coach house on Central and McDowell.
In 1952, Board President Stephen Shadegg along with the Heard Family and Barry Goldwater fought for and won funding for the construction of a new building. This building was at the core of a developing arts and cultural area that would later welcome the Phoenix Art Museum as well as the Phoenix Library.
Phoenix Theatre, renamed in 1981, has since embarked on several renovations to the current space and has made several additions to programming, many of which still operate today. PT continues to grow and remain at the heart of artistic growth in the community. In 2006, Phoenix Theatre developed a plan to address the shortage of space and accommodate the growing needs of our programs.
Construction is underway for the new flexible black box theatre which will serve as the home to Phoenix Theatre for young audiences as well as new works development programs. City of Phoenix voters approved a bond issue providing over $10 million in funding for the project. Phoenix Theatre committed to raise an additional $5 million to supplement the city bond funds and enhance the project.
In its history, Phoenix Theatre has launched stars in the industry, developed young audiences, introduced emerging playwrights and composers, created a space for alternative and experimental theatre, and hosted world premieres. Most importantly, it remains at the center of an active arts complex serving its audiences by creating dynamic, professional productions while following its mission of educating and elevating the growing Phoenix artistic and cultural community.