Arkansas Arts

Moshe Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects, and Alice Walton, founder and board chairperson of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, show plans for the expanded facility.
Stephen Ironside / Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in northwest Arkansas announced plans Wednesday to increase its size by 50% to showcase the museum’s growing collection and welcome more visitors.

According to a news release, the Bentonville museum will add 100,000 to the 200,000-square-foot facility. Envisioned to support Crystal Bridges’ commitment to free access to art for all, the new space will increase capacity for presenting art and exhibitions, educational and outreach initiatives, cultural programming, and community events.

Ann Nicholson, longtime host of KLRE-KUAR's Arts Scene, on April 14, 2016.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Ann Nicholson, who for more than three decades hosted a program on KLRE and KUAR dedicated to the arts in Arkansas, has died. Her daughter, Dr. Dido Green, says Nicholson died in her sleep early Sunday. She was 88. A cause of death was not immediately available.

Nicholson produced well over a thousand episodes of Arts Scene, talking with local and visiting performers, artists and authors. She reported on cultural issues and discussed events happening around the state.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Most movie theaters in Arkansas closed in mid-March, around the time the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in the state. The state, despite never meeting the re-opening criteria suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, began Phase One reopening in early May by proclamation of Governor Asa Hutchinson. According to the governor's guidelines, indoor movie theaters were allowed to resume operations on May 18.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

Arkansas Shakespeare Theater’s production of Romeo and Juliet differed from last year’s other productions in a few ways. As the designated “family-friendly’ show of the season, the play was shortened to an hour and toured across Arkansas through the months of June and July. This particular production also went through another round of modifications, to make it accessible to those on the autism spectrum and others who are sensory sensitive.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Arts Center has officially broken ground on a new $70 million reimagining project, nearly a year and a half after it was announced.

Officials broke ground on the project outside of the center's MacArthur Park facility in downtown Little Rock Tuesday, a little over a month after the museum moved to a temporary facility in a former Walmart in Riverdale.

At The Symphony: JoAnn Falletta Conducts Scheherazade

Sep 26, 2019
Time for Three/ASO

Geoffrey Robson, interim artistic director and associate conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, takes us through the program for the September 28th & 29th Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Masterworks concert.

This Masterworks concert features JoAnn Falletta as conductor and trio Time for Three. The program includes Ravel's La Valse, Higdon's Concerto 4-3 and Rimsky-Korsokov's Scherezade.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Little Rock and North Little Rock are one step closer to getting affordable housing and shared work spaces for artists. On Tuesday night, the national non-profit Artspace announced its plan to move forward to the second stage of development in central Arkansas. A feasibility study conducted in July convinced the organization of the region's interest and potential, so a survey of area artists and creative businesses has been launched.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A mural touting peace and civil rights is being expanded by a group of artists in Little Rock. They’re painting the mural on large concrete walls under railroad overpasses on West 7th Street, just west of the state Capitol. It’s being done as part of the 2019 Arkansas Peace Week, which includes a number of events throughout the state.

The mural was first painted three years ago, but artist Jose Hernandez says several of the scenes were hit with graffiti, including white spray paint used to cover up people’s faces.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The Arkansas Arts Center is, for now, saying goodbye to its MacArthur Park location. The Little Rock institution is hosting a farewell party at, and for, its longtime home on Saturday. It was founded as a museum of fine art in 1937 and is temporarily relocating to a former Wal-Mart building in the Riverdale Shopping Center while renovations happen over the next two-and-a-half years. 

Will Trice
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The new executive artistic director for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is getting settled into his new position. In January it was announced that Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Will Trice, who is a Little Rock native, had accepted the position. But he had to spend several months in New York wrapping up affairs there before moving back to Arkansas.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Artists in central Arkansas may be getting a new option for affordable places to live and create. Artspace, a non-profit real estate developer, is considering sites in Little Rock and North Little Rock for a new project. The group will be hosting a public meeting to guage community interest Wednesday night at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.

Arts Scene: Metalpoint With Marjorie Williams-Smith

May 14, 2019
Majorie Smith-Williams

Metalpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith was born in Washington, D.C. where she started out with pencils and watercolors. As she grew up she spent hours drawing. Marjorie studied art in college at Howard University and worked as a graphic designer in New York before meeting her husband, Aj Smith.

Govenor's Art Award: Metalpoint With Marjorie Williams-Smith,

May 2, 2019
Majorie Smith-Williams

Metalpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith is known for her intricate drawings and flowers in metalpoint and is credited for her design on the Congressional Medal of Honor presented by President Bill Clinton in 1999 to the members of the Little Rock Nine. This year, she received a Governor’s Arts Award for individual artist.

Arts Scene: Bobby Roberts

May 2, 2019
Melissa Gerrits

Bobby Roberts, former director of the Central Arkansas Library System sat down to dicsuss his reasons for retiring and the success of many projects under his leadership.

Arts Scene: Lysander Piano Trio

Apr 30, 2019

On this week’s episode of Arts Scene, Ann Nicholson is joined by two members of the Lysander Piano Trio, Itamar Zorman (violinist) and Liza Stepanova (pianist.)The Lysander Piano Trio was formed at The Juilliard School in 2009, and selected that year to represent Juilliard in a special concert. A winner of the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, has been praised for years.


Arts Scene: Concertmaster Kiril Laskarov

Apr 30, 2019

On this week’s episode of Arts Scene, Ann Nicholson is joined by Kiril Laskarov, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster. This is Laskarov’s 17th season as concertmaster, and he has appeared as a soloist in the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Southern Illinois Symphony, and many more. 

A new documentary film called “State of the Art” will make its Little Rock premier Saturday night with a free screening at the Ron Robinson Theater before being aired nationally on PBS. It was produced by AETN and Arkansas award-winning filmmakers Craig and Brent Renaud.

Brandon Markin / The Arkansas Repertory Theatre

After financial troubles last year, officials with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre hope their first show of the season is a sign of future success. The Rep's production of the musical "Chicago" finished its run Sunday.

Karen Rudolph, the organization's director of marketing and audience engagement, said tickets sales from the show were encouraging.

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR

Aspiring or current young women filmmakers in the Little Rock area will have the opportunity to work with and learn from professionals in the industry as they create a short film, as a part of a new free program.

On Their Own Terms
MaKayla Ealy / KUAR News

An exhibit celebrating black art is now on display at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 37 African-American artists and about 50 installations are included in the show On Their Own Terms which features vintage works of art alongside contemporary works.

Sarah Kellogg


An exhibit centered around the artist Frida Kahlo is now open at the Arkansas Art Center. Photographing Frida: Portraits of Frida Kahlo, features photographs of Kahlo throughout her life.

Will Trice
The Rep

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre says it is hiring Tony Award-winning Broadway producer William Trice to become its new executive artistic director.

The announcement late Wednesday comes after a turbulent year for The Rep. Financial difficulties forced it to suspend operations in April, but the arts community rallied in support of the theater which, after evaluating its operations, returned with plans for an abbreviated season this year. 

Arkansas Arts Center

The Arkansas Arts Center and the Central Arkansas Library System are working together to make sure some of the center’s most popular pieces will still be viewable to the public after the center closes next year for renovations.

The center says this partnership is the first of several it will offer.

Laine Harber, interim executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center, says the partnership was an easy fit.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre

The Arkansas Repertory Theater will return for a new season of productions after financial difficulties forced it to cease operations in April.

On Tuesday evening, The Rep announced its 2019 line-up. Due to a late start, the theater is opting for an abbreviated season. Instead of six main stage productions, there will be four shows as well as one for kids.

Theater Board Chair Ruth Shepherd says appealing to a broad audience is vital to the organization.

Robinson Center
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new permanent exhibit tells the history of Little Rock’s Robinson Center. The auditorium opened in 1939 and has hosted important events and performances over the decades. Two years ago it reopened after a $70 million renovation and expansion.

On Friday a curtain was dropped along a wall on the second floor unveiling the 50-foot long display, with a crowd responding with applause. At the start of the timeline is a nearly 10-foot tall photo of former Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator Joe T. Robinson.

Students prepare for a previous presentation of Tales of the Crypt at Little Rock's historic Mount Holly Cemetery.
Parkview High School

UPDATE: With rain in the forecast Tuesday evening, Tales of the Crypt has been postponed, now scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 beginning at 6 p.m.


Parkview High School’s drama department will present its 24th annual Tales of the Crypt at Little Rock's Mount Holly Cemetery on Tuesday. Students will portray notable Arkansas residents who are buried at the historic cemetary. 

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, which shut down in April because of financial difficulties, is preparing to reopen with a new season of performances in January.

The turnaround of the professional theater is thanks to more than $500,000 in donations, which was matched by the Windgate Charitable Foundation in Siloam Springs, according to Ruth Shepherd, the chair-elect for The Rep’s board of directors.

Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration

A documentary film probes the impact that a World War II Japanese American internment camp had on a community in southeast Arkansas, and on later generations. "Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration" is being shown Friday at 3 p.m. at the Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock.

Jacob Slaton / Clinton School of Public Service

Professional. Affordable. Sustainable. This is Ruth Shepherd’s mantra as she and other leaders of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, also known as 'The Rep,' go forward in assessing the fiscally-challenged theatre’s future.

Shepherd, a longtime Rep staffer and board chair, said at a meeting at Little Rock’s Clinton School of Public Service that many specifics of the theatre’s future remain up in the air.

"But, you can expect that it will be smaller, more intimate, and community-centric," Sheperd said.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Politicians, artists and fans of the performing arts gathered outside The Arkansas Repertory Theatre building on Main Street to show support for the venue during a time when its future is uncertain. The Rep is Arkansas's largest non-profit and professional theater company. 

The Rep announced last week it was suspending operations, saying it is facing mounting debt and declining ticket sales. The theatre’s website says its most pressing need is $750,000 to pay off its operating debt.