An ever-changing lineup of bestselling authors, celebrities, scholars and artists will take center stage as part of the new speaker series Arts & Letters. (Photo: Fara Illich)
Downtown Phoenix just got a little more cultured. Changing Hands Bookstore and Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI), in collaboration with the city’s Office of Arts and Culture, just launched an exciting new speaker series, Arts & Letters, at the Orpheum Theatre and other downtown venues starting Tuesday, Nov. 17. Gleaning its name from an academic term used to describe the fine arts and literature when considered together, Arts & Letters brings great, creative minds together under one roof. Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 17 with Rainn Wilson, the Emmy-nominated star of “The Office,” an ever-changing lineup of best-selling authors, celebrities, scholars and artists will take center stage as part of this new series. Wilson visits the Orpheum Theatre at 7 p.m. to discuss his new memoir, “The Bassoon King,” and how he found his place in comedy, faith and life. Following Wilson on Friday, Nov. 20, Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Rios will interview “New York Times” bestselling author and 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, Isabel Allende. In her much-anticipated new novel, “The Japanese Lover,” Allende weaves an indelible story exploring timely issues of race, identity, abandonment and reconciliation. This is the largest speaker series in Downtown Phoenix to date, and really compliments the city’s burgeoning arts scene according to Cindy Dach, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore. “Great communities and great downtowns have literature and speakers series in addition to music and visual arts,” she said. “The creation of a literature and speakers series seemed like a natural next step in this evolution.” With an array of smaller, local storytelling events presented by Lawn Gnome Publishing, Phoenix New Times, Crescent Ballroom and Four Chambers Press – just to name a few – Arts & Letters introduces renowned national and international names to the downtown literary scene. “It will add a new, important facet to the richly diverse arts and culture scene in Downtown Phoenix,” said Dorina Bustamante, director of community engagement for DPI. From traditional book readings to “Inside the Actors Studio”-style interviews, Arts & Letters promises to educate, enlighten and enrich the lives of all who attend. As part of the first two upcoming events, attendees will receive a book with the ticket price, and have the opportunity for book signing and Q-and-A session. Single tickets for Rainn Wilson and a copy of “The Bassoon King” cost $30. See him at the Orpheum Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Single tickets for Isabel Allende “In Conversation With Alberto Rios” and a copy of “The Japanese Lover” cost $35. She’ll be at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. This event is presented by Changing Hands Bookstore, DPI and Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, with support from the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center (ALAC) and Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Click here to learn more about Arts & Letters.