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May 13, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Artbeat: Phoenix Symphony

  |   Video
  • The Phoenix Symphony’s new season is getting underway. Symphony president and CEO Jim Ward will discuss the new season.
  • Jim Ward - President and CEO, Phoenix Symphony
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, art, artbeat, phoenix, new, season, symphony,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" looks at the Phoenix symphony's new season, which features, among other things, a new music director. Joining me now is Phoenix symphony president and CEO, Jim Ward. Good to see you again.

Jim Ward: Good, Ted. Good to see you.

Ted Simons: How are things with the symphony?

Jim Ward: The symphony is doing really very well, and we're finishing up a blockbuster season this season and looking forward to an even better season next season.

Ted Simons: First time we talked, first time you took over, the symphony wasn't doing all that well and it seems like things have improved. Is that true?

Jim Ward: Absolutely. Just on the business side, when I came on board about three and a half years ago, the symphony was not doing very well. There was a structural deficit and debt. But due to some great work from our musicians who sacrificed some salary restoration and a great staff and a great board and community, we have paid off all of our debt. We have managed to balance our budget and we're looking great as we move forward.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask, what is the relationship now with musicians and contracts and salaries, the whole nine yards?

Jim Ward: Well, listen, our musicians a number of years ago took a 19% cut in their pay, the largest of any American orchestra up until that time. They sacrificed the restoration of that salary to give us enough time to be able to stabilize the symphony, and we have gotten them back on a path towards that. Not completely there. But I believe if you were to ask them, they would express great confidence in the direction of the symphony and very good morale overall. And so we have a great relationship.

Ted Simons: A new direction as far as music is concerned. New music director, Tito Munoz, who is Tito Munoz?

Jim Ward: Tito Munoz is a ball of fire, is who Tito Munoz is. Tito grew up in Queens, New York and road a subway train to the famed school, the LaGuardia School. Then he went to Juilliard Prep. and then debuted with the National Symphony Orchestra. He then went to Aspen and summer festivals and won all of the music director awards. He was an assistant conductor at the Cincinnati Orchestra and then a resident conductor at the famed Cleveland Orchestra, arguably the best in the world. Went on to be a music director at the Orchestre Nancy in France , and now he’s coming to Phoenix, all in the span of a number of years, and he is about 30 years old. So, he has done a lot in his time frame.

Ted Simons: What does he bring to the Phoenix symphony?

Jim Ward: Well, he brings three things, Ted, that we were very focused on in terms of our selection. First of all, he brings chemistry and inspiration with our musicians. And that's critical to having the sound be produced at the level that it needs to be produced. That's the first thing. Secondly, he brings a commitment to our overall vision and mission of helping to educate the next generation of creative workforce here in Arizona, and Tito is very committed to education and our community outreach programs. And that was extremely important as well. And then the third thing that he brings to us is because of his both wisdom and youth at the same time, he brings to us the capability of trying to determine what the next generation of a symphony is. What the 21st Century symphony looks like. What symphony 2.0 might be and how that might appeal to a younger audience, of which he is a member.

Ted Simons: What does symphony 2.0 look like?

Jim Ward: Well, Ted, there are a lot of things we have observed over the course of time with a younger audience. Of course, it has developed with potentially a shorter attention span, digesting media in shorter chunks. A younger generation also digests music and visuals at the same time. And so, that suggests different programming options for us, incorporating audiovisual elements, having different length concerts, incorporating social elements, literally socially with other people and also social media as well. So there’s a whole new horizon of things that we could potentially do with the Phoenix Symphony and that is something that Tito brings as well.

Ted Simons: And I want to talk about the next season here and the schedule and what you have planned there, but back to Tito really quickly. You mentioned chemistry and how important that was. I mean do audition these guys in front of the orchestra? Do you watch their body language? Do you get their input? Do you want to hear what each section has to say?

Jim Ward: All of the above. Tito, we spent two and a half years identifying who our next music director would be. And the orchestra members are extremely involved, both from a committee perspective, but then after every candidate comes in, we do a quantitative study with the orchestra who gives us their input and qualitatively we sit down with them as well. Tito actually came in twice. And you also sit in the audience and hear the sound and see how the audience reacts and you see that interaction. And there are many, many variables that go into this. But absolutely the musicians are involved.

Ted Simons: Now let's talk about -- we mentioned symphony 2.0 and how you need to kind of change things a little bit. I noticed next season, you got everything from the music of Queen—you better play Bohemian Rhapsody in that one—and Led Zeppelin and Neil Diamond to Dvorak’s 9th, which I love the Largo movement. It’s about the only thing I can say with knowledge that I know about classical music. I mean, talk about this next season, and again with the new music director, what changes?

Jim Ward: Well, Tito was involved in the development of our next season as well as our musicians. We have a great, great season. It is going to kick off with opening night. Tito's first entre to Phoenix. And he’s going to be conducting Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, which is a personal favorite of his. But then Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, which everybody knows because it’s used as a music track to every trailer and T.V. commercial known to mankind. But it is actually an amazing work. We’re going to have our symphony, 140 members of the Phoenix Choir, and the Phoenix Boys Choir all on stage at the same time. So it is going to be a magnificent jump-off to the season.
But we have an amazing classic season program and pops as well, and it is diverse from a brand new legend series, where we're bringing in, in effect, cover bands to cover the music of Led Zeppelin and Queen and the number one cover band for Neil Diamond, Super Diamond, but to play with the symphony orchestra, and that's great. We are also going to be projecting for the first time here in Phoenix the great movie "Singing in the Rain" and we will be playing the score live while you are watching that movie. So that's great. We’re also doing a unique collaboration, believe it or not, with Phoenix International Raceway who’s celebrating their 50th anniversary, and also Barrett Jackson. And we're going to do a benefit where we will shut down streets in front of symphony hall, create pit row and bring cars in and then have everyone go inside for a concert called "The Speed of Sound" and we’re going to celebrate racing and cars with music and movie clips and all sorts of fun activities.

Ted Simons: Before you go, we only have about 30 seconds left. The long time subscription holders here, how are they handling all of this stuff?

Jim Ward: Oh, they are handling it well. In fact, the normal churn or degradation of subscriptions in the industry is 12 to 15%. We're holding steady and, in fact, because of Tito Munoz, we are actually increasing subscribers this year. They are very excited about it. In addition to the fact we are up 20% in single ticket sales as well.

Ted Simons: It sounds like things are happening and an exciting program. Thanks for joining us.

Full Body Skin Imaging

  |   Video
  • A new technology has been developed by a Tucson company that provides a full body scan of a person’s skin, allowing doctors to track changes over time to detect skin diseases.
  • Karleen Seybold - Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, DermSpectra
  • Clara Curiel, M.D. - Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, DermSpectra
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: medical, health, body, skin, imaging, technology, scan, diseases,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Derm-Spectra is a Tucson company behind new technology that provides a full body scan of a person's skin, allowing doctors to track changes over time to detect skin diseases. Karleen Seybold is the cofounder and CEO of Derm-Spectra, and Dr. Clara Curiel is the company's cofounder and chief medical officer. It is Derm-Spectra, correct, I got that part -- okay, good because this medical stuff can throw me sometimes. A full body scan of your skin. Explain, please.

Karleen Seybold: Well, we have imaging technology that does high resolution standardized imaging of your skin in order for a physician to track changes over time. So, the idea is to have accessible, affordable imaging that can be part of your medical record.

Ted Simons: Is this the kind of imaging, like an MRI, like a CAT scan, like a photo, what kind of imaging?

Karleen Seybold: No, it’s digital imaging, high resolution digital imaging, but very standardized and done in a way that can be compared as you collect these images over time.

Ted Simons: And we're seeing this guy here, animation now, is this basically what happens? You go in and -- you're not necessarily looking for something, you're just looking for anything?

Clara Curiel: Anything. Because if you think about it, when you go to see your physicians, whether it is your primary care or dermatologist, when you go in right now, they look at your skin and what do they do next. They write down what they're looking at. They don't have an image to use as documentation. So, when you start accumulating this number of images over time, you have the flexibility of going back and compare what the patient has from that date to what they had before. Whether it is a mole, a rash, but specifically what is really important is looking for the detection of skin cancer at early stages.

Ted Simons: Indeed, you are looking for changes. Aren’t you?

Clara Curiel: Changes, something that is new or was there before that is now different. And it is hard to keep track of the lesions over time.

Ted Simons: And now, it sounds like from what I was reading there are multiple images that are kind of stitched together, is that how it works as well?

Karleen Seybold: That's correct. Right now, we have nine poses to cover 85% of the body area and we have nine cameras that collect the images and we put them together to use as a navigation technique. You see a full body image.

Ted Simons: And when you see the image, and you say something looks a little different here, are you saying that is a bit of a change? Do you -- how is it marked and how do you know what to look for next time?

Karleen Seybold: We have a specific application that we developed to go along with this. We have a server database so those images are stored securely and then we developed a very efficient viewing application for the physician—so it’s like an iPad application that you can go on and annotate those images and then they can be saved back to the server.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask, how much training is needed by physicians to use the equipment for their patients?

Clara Curiel: Not very much. It’s like grabbing your iPhone, your iPad. If you think about it, for the physician, it’s a very busy day. They go back-to-back, ten minutes per patient. So you can't possibly slow them down. If anything, it is increasing accuracy in the documentation, but they are navigating in a very intuitive way through the images. They click on a mole, put a circle around the mole, what do I do next? I biopsy the mole and then, you know, I'm going to follow this patient the next number of weeks. It is all done one after the other. You don't have to spend too much time annotating in the standard medical record.

Ted Simons: And if you see something or it hasn't changed or if you see something and you know it is not a problem, again, there is data storage to say not a problem. But just keep an eye on this thing.

Clara Curiel: And you can mark it too, and say we are not worried, we are sure, and then you move on.

Ted Simons: Not just for skin cancer though, right? There are other diseases that this can track?

Karleen Seybold: Yes, it’s really for anything, anything that appears on your skin. We view it as more of an image center documentation. So instead of taking handwritten notes, I can take high resolution imaging of you and store that in my records and next year when you come in I can continue to track what is happening on the skin.

Ted Simons: Indeed, so anything from psoriasis, as you mentioned rash --?

Clara Curiel: The other applications are very interesting. For example, tele-medicine, teledermatology. Some patients are now being seen remotely. You can acquire images in a faraway place, and because it’s comprehensive, total body, they can be, you know, diagnosed, assessed at another center and then provide the feedback. Other application for clinical trials, to instruct development you need very standardized documentation, and we are actually participating now in trials for proper objective –

Ted Simons: To make sure there isn't a rash breaking out because of a particular drawback. That is -- how did this get started? You are cofounders. How did this get started?

Karleen Seybold: We met on an airplane believe it or not a long time ago. I am an engineer by training. And I was working in a lot of scene matching technology. And Clara was running a pigmental legion clinic and talking about her struggles with trying to compare images over time. So we originally started in change detection. After some years of working on that and we got a science foundation Arizona grant, they were a big supporter of this technology, we really realized we can work on change detection, but you have to have a data base of images in order to do change detection.

Ted Simons: Did you have challenges in the early going?

Clara Curiel: Yes, and the challenges are exactly what we are trying to solve today, which is adoption of imaging. We have made a huge progress in change detection, that is the easy part, but you need to have images standardized at a point in time, so you can put them together. And the assistant, that is what we’re envisioning, that’s where we’re going is to automated change detection, so to be a help and aid to the physician. This area changed by this rate over this period of time. So it would be even more objective than what it is now.

Ted Simons: So what are you getting as far as a reaction from the medical community?

Clara Curiel: It is interesting because -- it makes sense to everyone, but when you are not used to it, it’s that paradigm. We need to shift the way we practice, like radiology at the time of fluoroscopy. They didn’t have heart (inaudible). They just look at the x-ray, what was projecting, and then documented it. Now radiology (inaudible) that is the way of practice. That is what we are moving into. That is what we really see the future, is becoming an image-centered documentation, the new way of practicing skincare.

Ted Simons: And last question, how do you get into that future? What is the next step here?

Karleen Seybold: So we are doing the beta testing here in the Phoenix area at the Scottsdale Health Care Center is one of our sites. We are continuing to deploy BETA testing and getting feedback from both physicians and patients. And so far the patients’ response is overwhelmingly positive. They love it and they have very high confidence in having imaging taken and stored. So we are continuing the BETA testing and moving into manufacturing in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Well, very good. That confidence is very important. Good to have good both. Congratulations on your success.

Karleen Seybold: Thank you.

Carla Curiel: Thank you.

Mesa Artspace Study

  |   Video
  • There’s a new survey out on the Mesa Artspace project, which would provide affordable spaces for Phoenix-area artists and creative businesses. Cindy Ornstein, director of the Mesa Arts and Culture Department and Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center, and Mesa City Council member Terry Benelli, will discuss the results of the survey and the Mesa Artspace project.
  • Cindy Ornstein - Director and Executive Director, Mesa Arts and Culture Department and Mesa Arts Center
  • Terry Benelli - Council Member, City of Mesa
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, art, artspace, study, mesa, arizona, project, artists, businesses,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A new survey looks at the demand and availability of affordable art spaces in Mesa. Here to discuss the survey is Cindy Ornstein, executive director of the Mesa Art Center and director of the Mesa Arts and Culture Department. Also joining us is Mesa city councilwoman Terry Benelli. Good to see you both. Thanks for being here.

Cindy Ornstein: Thank you for having us.

Ted Simons: The Mesa Artspace project. What are we talking about?

Cindy Ornstein: We are talking about a collaboration of several Mesa organizations with the city and, most importantly, with Artspace, a nonprofit out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that has developed spaces for creative businesses and artists across the country, but they have never done one in Arizona.

Ted Simons: And this is, again, a look for affordable art spaces, not only for artists but for businesses, correct?

Terry Benelli: It sure is. The project would potentially consist of 50 to 60 apartments for artists that would basically have a rent cap so that the apartments would be affordable for about 15 years. The bottom floor of the project, because it would likely be a multistory project, would be for creative businesses.

Ted Simons: Now, again, this is -- it sounds a little public, a little bit private here. What is the dynamic there?

Cindy Ornstein: Art space is a nonprofit, and in the predevelopment phase, the city of Mesa is a partner in trying to make sure that we have everything -- all of our ducks in a row to be able to do this project. After that, it is managed or it is constructed, managed and run by the Artspace organization. So it’s a private nonprofit organization that is running it. But there are things like tax credits, etc. that play into making it an affordable project. And these are not just living spaces for artists; they’re live/work spaces. So there are studio spaces in them as well.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the survey now. What did the survey exactly look at?

Terry Benelli: So the survey looked at the interest in artists that we would have coming to Mesa to live in the project. It also looked for creative arts businesses and art organizations to see if they would be interested in renting space inside the project.

Ted Simons: And what did you find?

Terry Benelli: An overwhelming response, over 600 artists that were interested in moving to Mesa and living in the project, and over 100 art organizations that were interested in the project and said that they would love to have more information going forward.

Ted Simons: That kind of response surprise you at all?

Cindy Ornstein: Well, we were expecting a good response, but we're pleased that it was many multiples of the amounts that were necessary to make -- to give a green light to the project. So we're really happy that we got the response that we did, and not just from artists in Mesa. We surveyed across the valley, and it was collaborative. We worked with many other cities in the valley to be sure we could get information valley-wide and we are sharing the results with those cities and hope lots of similar projects pop up across the valley.

Ted Simons: Demand for art space. Let’s go to downtown Mesa, where things—if they are not happening right now, will be happening soon with light rail. Demand for art space down there. What are you finding out?

Cindy Ornstein: We are finding out that people are excited about what is happening in Mesa. They are interested in being near the arts center. They are interested in being in a community of artists, and I think a lot of people do feel there is quite a buzz about Mesa as a place for creativity and innovation. So, we're really gratified that they want to come and be part of that community.

Ted Simons: From the council's point of view, how do you take that buzz, if it is out there, and say we have something going on here in downtown Mesa, again, with a survey like this, how does a politician and public policy -- public policy folks, how do you put that in practice?

Terry Benelli: I think our goal is to make this happen and make it be the smoothest process possible for the developer. We know that the community is -- values the arts in Mesa. It’s our arts and cultural district for the city. We just want to tap into that excitement.

Ted Simons: As far as design elements, as far as building features, what did the survey tell you?

Cindy Ornstein: Well, we know there are certain things that artists want. I think the biggest thing was people wanted natural light. I believe they wanted high ceilings and open space that they could design for themselves. I'm trying to remember a -- a couple of the other requirements.

Terry Benelli: One of the other things that they look at is the size spaces that they need. Many of the projects have studio apartments up to three bedroom apartments, and I think the returns that we got were more for single or maybe two people living in the apartment, more so than families. But that changes as artists grow up and have families and artists can stay in these projects for their entire life. They could move in in the studio and move up to a three bedroom with children and move back down if they're still income qualified.

Ted Simons: Interesting. How was this particular survey conducted?

Terry Benelli: So, it was online and also done in person. Neighborhood economic development corporation had one person that was kind of their job for two months was to go out and go to art events and go to art organizations, go to classes at ASU, anywhere where there was a gathering of artists, we were at getting information from the survey. NEDCO also does an art entrepreneur program, and we had help from the art entrepreneurs that we trained over the years to help with the art scene in Mesa.

Cindy Ornstein: I remember something else that people said they wanted that I think is important. They wanted shared community space and shared gallery space. That is a feature of most Artspace projects. The artists really enjoy being part of a community of artists and being able to have an impact on the community. Things like open studio tours and community galleries, and, in fact, it is very common for coffee shops to pop up in these developments.

Ted Simons: Oh, sure, oh, sure. Has this kind of survey been conducted before in Mesa, in Arizona, and if so, how does this compare to the results?

Cindy Ornstein: No, it has not been done in Arizona before. It is the same survey that Artspace has used in other communities. They have a requirement for three to one to redundancy, meaning whatever number they think they need for the project, they have to have at least three times the number saying they're interested and they exceeded that. So that went beautifully. Apparently, it is better than this has been in some other markets.

Ted Simons: From a public policy, and again from the council standpoint, you have business interests. You want to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck for your property, especially downtown Mesa with the investment in light rail. Is everyone on board with this or are some forks saying it is nice to have nonprofits down there with artists, but we need businesses. We need some kind of more firm or traditional kind of a business?

Terry Benelli: You know what, Ted? I have to tell you, the first time I met the administrators from Artspace doing a pre-feasibility study, I had a meeting with businesses along Main Street, and they had just come from the mayor and their council. They said for the first time in their history that they had walked into a room and everybody was on the same page. The council and the mayor had all seen art space projects across the country and they were ready to go. So full support.

Cindy Ornstein: And I think it is important to mention that art space projects typically bring a lot of other businesses into the areas where they develop and, in addition, they don't just serve nonprofits. They have creative businesses like videographers, graphic design firms that actually work in their spaces. So you are bringing additional businesses into the community as well.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, last question. Where do we go from here?

Terry Benelli: We hire architects and we go for tax credits next April.

Cindy Ornstein: And we're working to raise the money to do all of that predevelopment work, the design and everything.

Ted Simons: Alright, well, congratulations. It sounds like things are happening in downtown Mesa, all over Mesa, I guess, and I'm sure artists are very pleased to hear what you both discussed tonight. Good to have you here.

Terry Benelli: Thanks, Ted.