The Phoenix Art Museum and FilmBar partner to bring to life outdoor movie theater experience

By Velvet Wahl

Films in the Garden will take place in the Dorrance Sculpture Garden at the museum from mid-February to the end of May. The theme: international arthouse films.

“Two things that people can't do as easily now is travel and go to the movies. So we thought that a film series of international classic arthouse films would be really well received, especially in the beautiful setting of the garden because it's just divine out there,” FilmBar’s Film Programmer Andrea Canales said.

Both organizations are excited to bring the community together for a safe movie-viewing experience. Seating is limited to 50 people to ensure proper social distancing and masks are required. 

Food and drink are not permitted nor provided, with the exception of water bottles. Heaters will also be provided to keep the garden warm during cold nights.

“I'm hoping that this will just be a nice opportunity for people to feel a little bit safer to be able to still gather with people, but have social distancing still, and to feel a part of a community,” the museum’s Chief External Affairs Officer Nikki DeLeon Martin said.

For FilmBar unlimited and museum members, tickets are priced at $12 and are $15 for the general public. Ticket proceeds will be split between the organizations.

“The majority [of the proceeds] for the films will go to FilmBar because that's their primary way of earning revenue, whereas we still have the ability to have guests in the museum,” DeLeon Martin said. “In exchange for that, when we have more private events for just our members, which are much smaller events, FilmBar is covering that for us. It's a total mutual aid situation where both two organizations are helping each other out where we most need it.”

Since the pandemic started, both organizations have had financial difficulties because of lockdowns and business closures. The event is a great way for members of the community to support the museum and FilmBar.

“If people could consider becoming either a FilmBar unlimited or museum member, they'll be also helping out,” DeLeon Martin said. “The two institutions have both had a lot of difficulties from COVID.”

FilmBar has been working on decentralizing from their property in Downtown Phoenix. They have several community partnerships like with the Pemberton to provide movie screenings. 

FilmBar doesn’t want to lose the sense of community they’ve built with members over the last 10 years Canales said. They are also looking forward to reaching a new audience in Phoenix.

“We're just excited to tap into the Phoenix art audience. We know there is definitely a lot of crossover,” Canales said. “ A lot of these people that are going to come to these screenings probably haven't been out to see a movie in like a year. Just the fact that we can provide that safe experience for them to be a part of the community, but also following the guidelines, it's really exciting to be able to create that experience for people.”

For those who want to stay at home but still want to support FilmBar, the theater has started streaming different movies each week.

The Phoenix Art Museum has also been looking at new ways to connect with the community, and the FilmBar partnership was the perfect opportunity to help both organizations.

“We also wanted to move out to the garden, but the museum [doesn’t] own any of the equipment to be able to show outdoor film. So I thought, maybe there's a way that we could help each other out by being able to offer something to our community, but also helping out FilmBar at the same time,” DeLeon Martin said. “And that's where the idea was born.”

Canales encourages people to visit the museum during hours of operation before the movie screenings if they have time.

The list of screenings and tickets for the event can be found at

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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