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The Argyros Turns into the Big Top as Supporters Show Their Love
Friday, December 29, 2023


A fire breather chugged a mouthful of kerosene, then exhaled a flame more than three feet long from the patio of The Argyros as passersby on Main Street honked.

Inside the Argyros, men and women dressed in semi-formal attire watched as a woman performed star poses, knee hangs and man-in-the-moon poses on an aerial hoop suspended from the ceiling. And inside the Big Top, otherwise known as the Elizabeth and Thomas Tierney Theater, a circus performance wowed the audience by shooting an arrow with her foot into a big red plush heart.

The Argyros Center for the Performing Arts has prided itself on bringing some of the best shows on earth to Sun Valley audiences since it opened during the holiday season in 2018. And this past week the circus came to The Argyros as the center threw its fundraiser for a sold-out crowd of nearly 200 supporters in an event called “Damn Everything But the Circus.”

“Why are we here tonight?” the center’s artistic director Casey Mott asked the audience. “Four minutes ago, the 2023 solstice took place when our planet is in the coldest and darkest place it is all year. What does the circus have to do with celestial mechanics? The sun’s warmth and light and energy connect us more deeply to a sense of joy and wonder and magic. That’s why the Argyros is here and that’s because of you and you and you. Because of your faith in us, we’re able to pursue this magic on behalf of the community.”

In fact, it was just five years ago that steel beams rising three stories on Ketchum’s Main and First streets gave way to the Tierney Theater and the smaller John Bailey Studio Theater looking out onto Bald Mountain.

The arts center was named after its founding donors Julia and George Argyros. And it boasted theater seats that could be retracted to make way for a dance floor or cabaret seating and a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound Constellation Acoustic System—one of just a handful in the western United States—that could be tuned to create the sound of a cathedral or of Carnegie Hall.

Since, The Argyros has put on more than a hundred public programs and served as the setting for many private events, including fundraisers for nonprofit organizations like The Hunger Coalition.

“It has become an amazing part of the community,” said Dave Olsen, the board chair. “The sound system is amazing. And it’s amazing how much people have come to appreciate what we do. It’s rare that we have a performance that doesn’t sell every ticket.”

Revelers sipped on drinks like Cranberry Chai Spiced Mule, Circus Peanuts Rye Tai and Nutcracker Old Fashioned while partaking in a buffet of beef skewers and nibbling on circus-style caramel corn and cotton candy for dessert.

The bidding was fast and furious for such auction items as a party at the Argyros for 20 hosted by The Argyros staff, a day riding Peruvian paso horses at River Grove Farm with Elizabeth Tierney, a private catered dinner for 10 with singer and songwriter Steve Hackman, a five-night getaway for up to 10 at Mauna Kea Beach Villa on the Big Island of Hawaii and a hosted VIP Dinner Theater Experience for two couples at Club Fugazi to see the performance of “Love Letter to San Francisco,” private plane and five star hotel included.

The Argyros chose the evening to unveil part of its upcoming season, including a performance by country troubadour Lyle Lovett this summer, Delfeayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orchestra and JIG: A Trinity Irish Dance Production.

The event attracted a wide array of supporters from outdoor enthusiasts like Bob and Kate Rosso to artists and literary buffs like Marybeth Flower and Jenny Emery Davidson to theater arts producers like Patsy and Kathy Wygle and Jon Kane.

“I’m impressed by the quality of the work presented here—the community really supports it, said Kathy Jones, the center’s board secretary. “They do all this on a not-for-profit basis, just making enough to stay open.”

Lynne Heidel and her Wood River orchestra presented their Christmas concert at The Argyros for the first time a few weeks ago.

“We are so grateful that they made it affordable so we could play,” she said. “The acoustics were fabulous, and we were told we were the largest group ever to play here. We hope to do it again next year.”

Steve Hackman, a visionary composer, conductor and songwriter who is considered one of the most innovative artists in classical music, performed for the audience. And he expressed his appreciation to The Argyros and Casey Mott, as well: “I’ve met such wonderful people who have helped guide my career through The Argyros and Casey.”

Donations supporting upcoming programming may be made at


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