Walton Arts Center announces expansion plans in Fayetteville and Bentonville
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS—December 1, 2010—Walton Arts Center Board of Directors today approved the Facilities Committee recommendation to pursue an expansion in Fayetteville and in Bentonville. The plan includes pursuing a 600 seat performance hall to be built in Fayetteville on or around the current Walton Arts Center campus and a 2200 seat theater to be built in or near downtown Bentonville. For more information on the expansion, visit http://www.waltonartscenter.org/new_expansion_plans/.
President and CEO Peter Lane said, “It’s exciting to be a part of an expansion in both Fayetteville and Bentonville that can have such a positive impact on the region. This strategy helps to make performing arts and entertainment more accessible to people in Northwest Arkansas and lays the groundwork for future growth. Combined with our plans to expand the AMP at NWA Mall and work with the University of Arkansas to bring more concerts to Bud Walton Arena and Barn Hill Arena, this expansion will add over 30,000 new seats and has the potential for major economic and artistic impact throughout the region. It’s a win for Northwest Arkansas and a win for Walton Arts Center.” Lane adds, “Additional theaters will not only allow us to expand our arts and educational programs, but it will also help cultivate and support local arts organizations and the University of Arkansas by freeing up our existing theaters.”
In 2008 Walton Arts Center completed a feasibility study to assess expansion needs. The study confirmed that the current theater is 95% utilized to capacity and in order to expand programming and serve as Arkansas’ premier center for the performing arts & entertainment, Walton Arts Center should explore building two additional theaters: a 600 seat space and a 2,200 + seat theater to add to our current complex. In February of 2010, the Board of Directors approved a list of 15 prioritized site selection criteria that created an objective platform to review potential sites. As of August 2, more than 25 site proposals were submitted from all over the region and the proposals have been evaluated against the criteria.
Through this open and objective process, the Committee provided a recommendation that positions Walton Arts Center for the future, while also creating a regional strategy for arts expansion.
In the coming months, the staff will work closely with the Board of Directors, Facilities Committee, Fayetteville and Bentonville to discuss specific sites and identify organizational and funding needs for moving the projects forward.
Walton Arts Center is Arkansas’ premier center for the performing arts and entertainment. Each year more than 140,000 people from Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma and beyond attend over 350 public events at Walton Arts Center, including performances, rehearsals, community gatherings, receptions, graduations and more. Approximately 20,000 students and teachers from 30 school districts participate annually in arts learning programs at Walton Arts Center, and over 300 volunteers donate more than 15,000 hours of time each year to its operations. Walton Arts Center presents entertainers and artists from around the world including Broadway musicals, renowned dance companies, international artists, up-and-coming jazz musicians and more. As a non-profit organization, Walton Arts Center enjoys the generous support of public sector funding, corporate sponsorship and private donors, allowing audience members to pay on average only 50% of the cost of programs offered. To learn more about Walton Arts Center, visit www.waltonartscenter.org.