Arkansas Arts

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

A Little Rock theater has suspended its productions indefinitely.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's board of directors announced the decision Tuesday. Financial issues forced the theater to cancel its final production and cease future planning.

Board Chairman Brian Bush says a decline in ticket sales and an increase in theater options around the city contributed to the shuttering. But theater officials hope to eventually bring back the theater.

Bush says the theater hopes to fundraise $750,000 to ensure financial stability for The Rep when it returns.

Studio Gang

Having undergone eight additions since its humble beginning as the Museum of Fine Arts in 1937, the Arkansas Arts Center will soon be getting a major redesign to unify the facility with itself, and the outside world.

Two architectural firms, Studio Gang and Little Rock-based Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, have teamed up with New York-based landscape architectural firm SCAPE to create a concept design for the project.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Foundation has received its largest ever individual gift. The $1.8 million donation to the foundation’s endowment comes from the estate of Linda Garner Riggs, who passed away last November at age 70. 

Take a listen to the interview above with ASO CEO Christina Littlejohn about what the gift means for music in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Repertory Theater / The Arkansas Repertory Theater

The Arkansas Repertory Theater, or The Rep as it’s known locally, promises a mix of classic and new productions in its upcoming season.

John Miller-Stephany, The Rep’s artistic director since 2016, said he prioritizes variety when choosing shows.

The first Central Arkansas Music Awards ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday night at the Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock.

Arkansas Sounds Music Coordinator John Miller says many area artists have shown interest in the event and want it to grow into something beyond a one-night ceremony.

“There’s a lot of folks that really kind of want to hopefully spur this into a bigger recognition of Arkansas artists and hopefully maybe that will spur something along the lines of a music hall of fame or something like that,” Miller said.

Public radio icon Garrison Keillor will be in Little Rock Tuesday for a live performance at Robinson Center Music Hall. In advance of the show, the 75-year-old spoke with KUAR’s Michael Hibblen about life after retiring from his long running program A Prairie Home Companion, his connections to Arkansas, and his thoughts on current affairs. The interview was recorded Thursday as Keillor was traveling to a show in Asheville, North Carolina.

At first glance, you see a young girl goofing around with her friends.

But there's one crucial detail: This girl — 16-year-old Nirma — has a traditional stripe of vermilion powder smudged into her forehead. In her region in India, that's a sign that means Nirma is married.

The Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival begins this weekend. The event which organizers say is the longest running documentary film festival in North America, is marking its 26th year.

The festival also has an Academy accreditation in the short film documentary category, which means the film that wins best short at the Hot Springs festival has a chance to be nominated for an Oscar. “We’re one of 38 festivals in the world that have that accreditation,” says Interim Director Jennifer Gerber. “It actually makes us a very special destination for filmmakers.”

UCA / University of Central Arkansas

A preview of a scene from an opera depicting the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 is scheduled for Monday evening at the University of Central Arkansas.

The event is one of several commemorating the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the school. UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication commissioned the opera, entitled “The Little Rock Nine,” which is being composed by Tania Leon. In an interview for KUAR’s Arts Scene program, Leon said she didn’t know much about the event when she was first approached to compose the opera.

4th Annual ACANSA Arts Festival Starts This Week

Sep 19, 2017
ACANSA Executive Director Dillon Hupp
acansa.org

ACANSA, a five-day arts and cultural festival entering its fourth year, begins Wednesday in the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock.

The name for the festival is not an acronym, but a Native American word used by the Quapaw Tribe to form the basis of where Arkansas came from meaning “southern people” or “downriver people,” depending on the translation.

World War I Sabin Howard
Sabin Howard

Work is progressing ahead of a ceremonial groundbreaking on Nov. 9 for a National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC commemorating the service of Americans in the military. The memorial likely won’t be completed as initially hoped in time for 100th anniversary of the end of the war, but substantial work should be visible by then.

Philanthropists Alice Walton has formed Art Bridges, a nonprofit foundation with a mission to expand access to American artworks, the foundation announced Wednesday.

“Collaborating with museums and institutions of all sizes and in all regions of the country, Art Bridges will help create and fund exhibitions, bringing together art from museums, private collections, foundations and a collection established as a part of Art Bridges,” the foundation noted.

Foundation Gives $120 Million To Establish UA School Of Art

Aug 23, 2017

The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation will donate $120 million to the University of Arkansas to create a school of art. Talk Business & Politics reports the gift, announced Wednesday, is the largest ever given to a U.S. university to support or build a school of art.

Riverfest Morris Day and the Time
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock's annual music festival, Riverfest, is suspending operations after four decades.

The Riverfest, Inc., board of directors announced Tuesday that 2017 was the last year for the music festival in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. The festival's executive director, DeAnna Korte, says rising costs and more competition from other festivals made it difficult for Riverfest to continue.

Korte says hot and rainy weather in May and June also affected Riverfest's ability to be successful.

Photography Exhibit Explores Arkansas Family's Grief

Jun 20, 2017
Nina Robinson

An exhibit now on display at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock showcases how a documentary photographer grieved for a beloved family matriarch.

The exhibit is titled “Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album.” Photographer Nina Robinson has been telling stories through her photos for national publications for many years now. Her most recent project began as many others have, as an attempt to capture the nuances and complexities of southern life.

For the past several years, Beth Ditto was known as the dynamic frontwoman of the dance-punk band Gossip. She established herself as a singer with a helluva voice who embraced being queer, feminist and fat.

Movies In The Park
Facebook

The annual Movies in the Park film series begins Wednesday night in the River Market. Each Wednesday through the end of next month, movies will be screened at the First Security Amphitheater beginning at sundown.

Eight movies will be shown this summer, which is the 13th year for the series today overseen by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. All screenings are free.

Delta Regional Authority

One of the state’s most culturally significant regions is receiving a boon to its arts and development sectors. The Delta Regional Authority announced that nearly $460,000 will now be available to innovators in the fields of art and culture through its Creative Placemaking Initiative.

“Investments in our arts and culture sectors are an incredible contributor to our innovation, to our entrepreneurship, and having a more inclusive economy for our communities,” said Chris Masingill, DRA Federal Co-Chairman.

Huckabee Clowned By Patton Oswalt, Jimmy Kimmel

Mar 24, 2017
Comedian Patton Oswalt making fun of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
ABC

Former Arkansas governor and two-time Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has never been one to shy away from the opportunity for a joke no matter how good his material.

Comedians Jimmy Kimmel and Patton Oswalt were able to find some humor in Huckabee's jokes on Thursday's episode of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live show.

Patton Oswalt read Huckabee's Twitter jokes with a deadpan delivery offering hokey intros like, "Do you guys like listening to music?" and "traveling's weird."

Jeff Nichols
Eric Hunt / Wikimedia

An Arkansas-born film writer and director will chair a state group hoping to build a film community in Arkansas.

Little Rock native Jeff Nichols was announced Wednesday as the chair the Arkansas Cinema Society, which plans to bring together residents to watch films, share ideas and provide connections with other filmmakers.

Nichols also plans to host three seminars on filmmaking during the first year of the society.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, University of Central Arkansas writer and professor John Vanderslice talks about his book Days On Fire. The novel explores the tumultuous days of painter Vincent Van Gogh from his early life in Holland to his hospitalization in St. Paul's Asylum in Saint Remy. Along the way, we discuss Van Gogh's many obsessions, including the painter's relationships with religion, women, family and work. 

The state of Arkansas may be officially recognizing more poets soon. The Arkansas House on Monday approved changes to the committee which appoints the state Poet Laureate and shortened its term. State Representative Carlton Wing of North Little Rock introduced his measure in a fitting style.

“What this house bill does is help more folks take the post.

No longer a lifetime appointment, it’s now four years at the most.

Japanese-American Internment Camp
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

During World War II more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans who had done nothing wrong, but were deemed a threat to the United States, were housed in internment camps. Two of the 10 camps were located in Arkansas. An exhibit opening Friday night in Little Rock helps to visualize the experience by showing artwork created by those held at the Rohwer Relocation Center in southeast Arkansas.

The Holly Jolly Trolley: A Ride Through Arkansas History

Dec 21, 2016
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

On this special holiday episode of Arts & Letters, we uncover true tales of Arkansas's past while touring the streets of Little Rock and North Little Rock inside the Rock Region Metro Streetcar—our “Holly Jolly Trolley.”

 

Along the streetcar rails we enounter a cast of characters, who tell of the cities' history bound up in the brick and mortar of the buildings—filled with ghosts and song.

 

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Times

The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio column for the weekend of Nov. 18, 2016:

Arkansas has a rich history of leaders whose contributions have done much to increase the quality of life for the people of our state. From business leaders who employed tens of thousands across generations to philanthropists whose gifts have made the arts accessible to all Arkansans, these leader’s contributions have made their mark.

Robinson Center Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The first performance at the newly renovated Robinson Center Performance Hall will take place Saturday. A key goal of the $70 million project has been to improve the acoustics of the Little Rock-owned venue that was built in 1939. Those attending the show by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will get to judge for themselves.

A&L Short: Brian Nahlen

Nov 14, 2016
Mary Ellen Kubit

Little Rock singer-songwriter Brian Nahlen in his song “Cicada Moon” explores the idea that humans got their sense of rhythm and synchronization from the world of insect sounds that have surrounded our species over the millions of years we’ve evolved.

He sat down with J. Bradley Minnick of KUAR’s Arts & Letters to talk about his musical inspiration. 

Robinson Center
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After a $70 million renovation, funded by a two percent rededicated advertising and promotion tax approved by voters in 2013, on Thursday the doors of an iconic Little Rock performance venue were reopened to the public.

Robinson Center
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After nearly two and a half years of work, a ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Thursday at 10 a.m. for Little Rock's Robinson Center. A $70 million renovation is being completed on the auditorium which first opened in 1939.

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