Arkansas Music Pavilion moving to Washington County Fairgrounds

The Arkansas Music Pavilion sits vacant in the southwest corner of the mall parking lot last week. Officials dismantle the stage and tent covering the venue after each season.

Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The Arkansas Music Pavilion will have a new home, at least for a while.

The outdoor music venue, located in the Northwest Arkansas Mall parking lot for the last seven years, will move its tent and stage to the Washington County Fairgrounds for the 2012 season.

Officials with the Walton Arts Center, which owns the AMP, said unsuccessful short and long-term lease negotiations with the new management of the mall have caused the need for a new location this year, if the season is to be saved.

“It’s important to us, and to Northwest Arkansas, that the AMP host a full season of music and entertainment this summer, and our timeline required that we secure a short term lease quickly,” said Walton Arts Center president Peter Lane in a news release. “We’re delighted to have a signed usage agreement with the Washington County Fairgrounds.”

The arts center’s one-year agreement with the fairgrounds includes an option to renew for an additional year at the end of the term.

“We are thrilled about this new relationship with Walton Arts Center and the AMP because it really gives us the opportunity to expand our programming and provide entertainment to more people,” said Kendall Pendegraft, Washington County Fair Board president.

The fairgrounds are also home to the Washington County Fair and host a variety of events during the annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival.

AMP general manager Brian Crowne said he’s confident the venue will still provide a full 2012 season and seemed excited about the new location.

“With the new space at the fairgrounds, it’s possible that we could seat more people and have a larger stage than we did at the mall, while being positioned on the grass rather than a parking lot,” said Crowne.

Aside from a fast-approaching season (Big Gigantic plays April 21), the AMP was also scheduled for a $4 million renovation project at the mall using a $500,000 grant from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission. Those plans, too, have stalled.

Arts center officials said while they remain hopeful that a long-term lease will eventually be secured at the mall, they have started to explore other sites for the renovation.

Officials said conversations with the County Fair Board, the City of Fayetteville, the Fayetteville Parks & Recreation offices, as well as private landowners in the area have already begun regarding a permanent location.