2018 Viola Award Finalist for Community Impact (Organization)
The Flagstaff Foundry is a monthly variety show produced by Garrison Garcia and a team of volunteers for the past 32 consecutive months. Previously hosted at the Circus Arts Studio, and now traveling throughout Flagstaff to take place in a different community performance spaces in Flagstaff, the Foundry is a monthly opportunity for artists and performing arts organizations to share their passions with a warm and welcoming audience. Because anyone and everyone can sign up each month to perform anything and everything, each month is exciting and different. Somehow, a ragtag group of volunteers, led by Garcia, produces this monthly arts incubator. The featured performers as well as the crew, director, sound person, etc. are all locals who want to be part of this community effort.
In addition to the variety acts that sign up, there are also two standing acts in every show. The first is a serial “radio show” (all performers stand at microphones with script in hand) about some Flagstaff – er “Flagstone” – superheros. The series is written by Garcia as well, and often incorporates current events into the (mostly) fictional story line. The radio performers are volunteers from all walks of Flagstaff life – lawyers, visual artists, engineers, bike mechanics, you name it. They see the script for the first time a few hours before the show. The second staple is long form improvisation by the Foundry’s house improv team, Tiny Punches. This group of skilled players turns audience suggestions into unexpected and hilarious narratives. They often weave in themes previously seen in the Foundry and make everything up on the spot.
The variety content in the show is not curated and acts are not reviewed or changed prior to the performance, so each artist brings what they will to the show. All they need to do is sign up ahead of time. The result is a show featuring a range of talent from across Flagstaff. In a typical Flagstaff Foundry you might see a group of seniors doing improvisational comedy, a middle-aged storyteller relaying a story about the time he flew to LA without his identification, a trio of aerial artists doing a routine on the trapeze or lyra, a singer performing their own songs, and a college student doing stand-up comedy. Importantly, the Foundry may feature a scene or song from a different Flagstaff show, for example, Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival had two actors perform some songs from their Merry Wives of Windsor production. Acts that support other arts projects are welcomed and encouraged.
Garcia and the Foundry volunteers are passionate about bringing a monthly opportunity to perform in a professional and supportive environment to the people of Flagstaff. “This show is for YOU, because YOU are the show,” says Garcia.
From the nomination letter:
“Flagstaff Foundry provides a venue where artists from every walk of life can come express themselves artistically. While it is often humorous, the most memorable moment for me was a dramatic pole dance by a transgender person who was only just finishing their first level of training. It was the most honest and vulnerable performance piece I have seen in many years. The service of both promoting empathy in our community and creating a space for any artists to express themselves, is an incredible community service. Moreover, The Foundry impacts the community by helping other non-profits promote their upcoming work and creating an artistic chronicle of our city through Flagstone Four.”
“This is a wonderful and open incubator for local performing arts/artists. I am not aware of any other local organization or venue that welcomes any and all to come share their gifts in such a welcoming manner.. As an amateur singer/songwriter, I relish the opportunity to perform to a listening audience within a professionally orchestrated environment – not an easy thing to find in town. The Foundry and it’s monthly variety show is an important and nurturing piece of the Flagstaff artisan community and deserves the recognition of a Viola Award. . .”