Family Productions • Performing Arts Education for All Ages •

Arts Express is a 501 (c) 3 organization: Tax ID #86-0941657


With over 30 years of service in Southern Arizona, Arts Express is dedicated to building a better community through the arts!  Through arts education and family events, programming is provided for people of all ages!

The mission of Arts Express is to build character, strengthen community and celebrate culture

through the power of the arts.

The vision of Arts Express is to be the Southern Arizona leader in family productions and arts education thru the provision of excellent programs that provide opportunities for students, cast/crew members and audiences to learn and experience the power of the arts.


  • EDUCATE:  We believe in the value of life-long learning through the arts and our responsibility to preserve and pass on the fundamental skills involved in individual artistic expression to future generations.
  • EMPOWER:  Based on empirical data, we believe that arts education enhances student achievement, increases self-esteem and actively empowers students; connecting them with school, their community and life.
  • ENTERTAIN:  We believe that quality entertainment plays a vital role in arts education since performance is the goal for mastery of artistic skill and provides a framework for developing mentors and role models.
  • CHARACTER: We believe in the transformational power of the arts to build character through healthy lifestyle choices, critical thinking and understanding and, with this in mind, will develop and maintain programs and events with high standards of excellence.
  • COMMUNITY: We believe that the arts are central to the sustained vitality of our community and therefore explore new ideas and invest in new collaborations and partnerships with artists, businesses, government, educational institutions, churches and other arts organizations.
  • CULTURE: We believe that the arts are a valuable catalyst for learning about one’s own culture and that of others, thus encouraging civic engagement and bridging racial, cultural, social, economic, religious and generational divides.
  • Through the power of the arts, Arts Express unites diverse people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and income brackets as cast and crew as well as audience members.Serving over 20,000 annually, Arts Express operationalizes its mission through a performing arts continuum, ranging from the following introductory to advanced programs:


  • ARTS AMERICA KIDS – summer musical theatre camps for beginning students culminating in performances for family/friends. Held in conjunction with Arts America Summer Stock and Let Freedom Sing.
  • BEHIND THE SCENES: BROADWAY AND MORE! – day-long packages held with Broadway in Tucson (BIT) and UApresents performances. Includes workshop, behind the scenes experience, lunch and ticket to matinee.
  • BEHIND THE SCENES: TEACHER’S EDITION – full day theatre workshops for teachers, provided in partnership with BIT. Taught by theatre professionals, teachers learn how to direct a show and get a behind-the-scenes view of a Broadway production.
  • SOUTHERN ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS (National High School Musical Theatre Awards) – recognizes excellence in musical theatre by students, teachers and schools. Managed in partnership with BIT, jurors select the top students to participate in the regional competition. Winners compete at nationals in New York.
  • A CHRISTMAS CAROL AND DICKENS FESTIVAL – celebrating Dickens and the culture of old England. In addition to enjoying the musical of A Christmas Carol, audience members experience the musicians, carolers and scrumptious treats of Victorian Era England.
  • BUILDING careACTOR PRODUCTION – Spring production focusing on diversity, empathy for others and community building. Shows include: Beauty & the Beast (2015), Shrek the Musical (2016), Cats (2017) and the Hunchback of Notre Dame (2018).
  • ARTS AMERICA SUMMER STOCK – highlighting the culture of America, with shows to include Hairspray (2015), South Pacific (2016), Oklahoma (2017) and Big Fish (2018). Held in conjunction with Let Freedom Sing.
  • LET FREEDOM SING AND SOUNDS OF AMERICA CELEBRATION – an inspiring celebration of our nation’s birthday in song, uniting diverse backgrounds and fostering community. After the concert, festivities continue at the Sounds of America Celebration with live music and family fun at Main Gate Square.
  • The Arts Express has gained a reputation for the quality of its productions. Excellence is achieved through recruitment and retainment of high caliber production team and cast members, involving professionals and students in a collaborative creative process.  Using Masters Classes, Cast/Crew Mentoring and Administrative Internships, these productions place the student elbow-to-elbow with professionals, providing a learning-feedback platform that connects the arts to the real world. Students work alongside professionals in both the rehearsal room and the administrative offices, learning problem-solving and leadership skills while gaining experience in all aspects of creating, producing, financing and marketing a show.  Eighty-six percent of Arts Express students need financial assistance to participate.  With your support, we strive to reach the under-served, so that EVERYONE can experience the arts’ life-changing potential. 



    Gail Kolenda, President

    Lendre Kearns, Vice President

    Warren Hatcher, Treasurer

    Karen Yanes, Secretary

    James Barnhart

    Melanie Clark

    Joyce Dillon

    Diane Kephart-Cragg

    Gary Lotze

    Jennifer Morehead

    Jeff Polley

    John Spangler

    Karen Wiese, Executive Director