One World Theatre is one of Austin’s great treasures.  Every time I go, I feel like I’m in touch with something deeply artistic and authentic.  It has been such a pleasure to have our Guitars Under the Stars gala evenings there the last few years – and our guests have universally loved the setting.

The first time I visited, I wondered how a place like One World Theatre could come into existence! I’ve had the pleasure recently of working with One World Theatre’s Founder and Executive Director Hartt Stearns in the run up to their May 2nd presentation of flamenco icon Paco de Lucia.  I thought I’d ask him a bit about the magic behind the theatre and all that happens there.

I also wanted to mention that One World is offering fans of ACGS 10% off tickets to see Paco de Lucia.  Paco is inarguably the most influential flamenco guitarist of our time!  Even though it’s 5 short days after the amazing Yamandú Costa, you must go see this concert!!!

You can Purchase tickets here for Paco de Lucia and enter code “ACGS” to obtain your discount (good for all but premium-level seating).  Or call One World at (512) 330-9500 and mention ACGS!

Matthew Hinsley: Hartt, One World Theatre seems like is a work of art in and of itself, how did the concept come about?

Hartt Stearns: We’re very proud of the fact that we have a green-built work of art in which to present world-class performers. We were doing green, even before it was all the rage. Our buildings on the property (built in 1998/99) are made from a combination of rastra (which is 85% recycled Styrofoam) and straw bale construction.  Many straw bale constructed buildings are kind of funky looking, and it is unusual for them to have such an artistic flare.

The concept was to have artists (my wife, Nada and I are both musicians as well as are many of the staff), present artists, in a piece of art. The beauty is magnified inside by the amazing acoustics and sound, and outside with the Austin Hill Country as the backdrop to this wonderful architecture.

MH: Paco de Lucia is a legend – one of many you’ve presented – how do you get the amazing artists you bring here, what’s your selection process?

HS:  I do the booking myself, so it’s a combination of artists that I know and have admired throughout the years, along with ones that are suggested from agents that recommend talent.

MH: We love having our gala at One World – you also do all kinds of things for the community, I’d love to hear about your community programming.

HS: We sponsor a number of artists from different cultures to go into the schools to perform assemblies and give workshops. We also present theatrical productions (Story Books Brought to Life) at One World Theatre that are for kids and families, where half of the tickets are given away for free to underserved families and organizations. And we have a summer camp where we give free admission to children of deployed soldiers. The final performance of the summer camp is seen by the deployed parents/soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan through videoconferencing. We have screens at the theatre that allows our audience to see the soldiers watching their children perform. It’s a very moving experience.

MH: Wow Hartt, that’s amazing.  What’s next for One World Theatre?

HS: We have plans to expand the theatre but are waiting to get over some hurdles with the City of Austin. In the meantime, we’ve been doing shows at the Riverbend Centre, where we’re presenting Paco De Lucia, as well as Merle Haggard, Ravi Shankar and The Chieftains this season.

MH: All those shows sound amazing and we are, of course, especially excited about Paco de Lucia!  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

HS: We’d love to do more in collaboration with the Austin Classical Guitar Society. We have presented a number of brilliant guitar players over the years, and although they have varied in genre, I do think any guitar player or aficionado would appreciate the talents of Larry Carlton, Tuck Andress (of Tuck & Patti), Bela Fleck (banjo), California Guitar Trio and Montreal Guitar Trio – who we’re presenting this season – and other amazing musicians like Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Mike Stern, The Assad Brothers as well as Badi Assad who we’ve presented over the years.

MH: We’d love that too, Hartt, and we look forward to making it happen.  Those are all amazing artists indeed!  Thank you for all you do for our community!