Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Let’s Keep Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

There’s been talk of enlarging or building a new Walton Arts Center for more than two years. A feasibility study indicated Northwest Arkansas had grown to the point that it could support an arts center with 2,500 seats.

The existing WAC opened to great fanfare in 1992 in downtown Fayetteville and proved to be the impetus that helped revitalize the entire area. Since then WAC has hosted world famous artists, Broadway shows, ballets, and too many more to list in this space. However, it has only 1,200 seats and limited parking.

The city of Fayetteville owns WAC but it is widely known that the Walton Family Foundation has always been the lead donor.

So it was bad news when the Foundation recently said it would not continue to be the lead donor if a new WAC was not built in Bentonville. To most people, that seemed to mean it would be Bentonville or it just wouldn’t be.

But Walton Arts Center invited proposals for enlarging or building a new arts center and received 24 proposals from cities, chambers of commerce, the U of A, and individuals. The next step will be review of each proposal. The review committee hopes to narrow the proposals down to perhaps three by December 2010.

I know the review will be a daunting task. Personally I would love to see Walton Arts Center stay in Fayetteville and I believe Fayetteville’s proposal stands an excellent chance of approval. It is the only one of the proposals that offered potential funding of approximately $33 million.

That’s not to say Springdale and Bentonville did not make good proposals – they certainly did. I’m just prejudiced by my affinity for Fayetteville. Plus the Fayetteville proposal has the advantage of expanding the facility on the current site.

Wherever the new Walton Arts Center ultimately lands, it will be a major economic benefit to that area.

If you want to view the proposals, click here. For more information, click here.

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