Attorney General: A&P Commission may donate funds toward UA performing arts hall

The Old Field House building

Photo: Todd Gill

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he believes the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission may legally contribute tax revenues toward construction of a planned performance hall on the University of Arkansas campus.

The judgement came in response to the commission’s July request for an official opinion on the matter.

In his Oct. 23 letter to State Rep. Uvalde Lindsey, who requested the opinion on behalf of the commission, McDaniel said although he wasn’t fully informed of all the material facts, he believes it’s unlikely that a court would find such a contribution to be unlawful.

The recommendation to seek a legal opinion was suggested by Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams, who questioned whether HMR taxes could be given to the university.

UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart requested $1 million in A&P funds to be put toward the estimated $17 million needed to convert the university’s old Field House building into a 700-seat performing arts venue on the UA campus.

Gearhart’s request was put on hold while commissioners awaited McDaniel’s official response. Since then, UA officials have announced a $6 million gift from Jim and Joyce Faulkner of Little Rock to be put toward the project.

Commissioners are expected to revisit the request during their regular November meeting.

McDaniel’s judgement is in line with past opinions sought for similar situations in Arkansas. In 2007, McDaniel wrote that Helena-West Helena A&P funds could be used to renovate and repair the bleachers and concession stand area of the Helena-West Helena High School. In 1997, former attorney general Winston Bryant wrote that Pine Bluff A&P funds could be contributed toward the construction of a football stadium for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

» Read McDaniel’s full response