A behind-the-scenes look at the magic that happens inside...
Nearly three decades ago, the City of Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas and private donors conceived of and built the Walton Arts Center. Now after 25 years, Walton Arts Center is ready to reopen their doors after a 16-month renovation and expansion project.
Whether measured by entertainment value, artistic ingenuity, educational opportunity or economic impact, Walton Arts Center functions as one of the region’s most dramatic achievement of public and private cooperation. It took outsized dreams, inspired vision and generous gifting, and eventually it all came together. Out of a shuttered building was created an entertainment locale in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, a stage for Broadway stars, a campus for the creative and an artistic escape for the more than two million people who have visited the arts center since it opened in 1992.
Over the past 25 years, the population of Northwest Arkansas has more than doubled and the desire for arts and entertainment has grown correspondingly. The need to expand and renovate our main facility had become clear, and in June 2015, we kicked off the first phase of construction with a groundbreaking ceremony. Fast forward sixteen months, after a successful 2015-16 “Hard Hat Season,” and we are once again ready to open the doors and share our new facility with the community!
We will host a Grand Reopening Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 19, which will include a Family Open House: “Behind the Curtain” from 10 am to 1 pm and an Evening Celebration: “Encore!” from 6 pm to 10 pm. This will be the very first public event in the brand new Walton Arts Center! Remarks and a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place just before 10 am. Light snacks and drinks will be available, and a number of family friendly activities will take place throughout the event—giving patrons a behind-the-scenes look at the magic that happens in a performing arts theater.
Open House attendees will get to watch Ballet Arkansas’ rehearsal for The Nutcracker in the newly renovated Starr Theater and experience the new backstage space, which will include makeup demonstrations in the wardrobe room, paint-by-numbers scenery in the loading dock, audio and lighting equipment show and tell, and much more. There will also be performances by Trike Theatre, Shannon Wurst and Fayetteville Old Time Music along with a few other special surprises. To top things off, a “Wow-Me” guided tour will take people from the orchestra pit up to the catwalk above Baum Walker stage where participants will get to explore the spotlight booth and newly installed theatrical rigging that allows for props to literally fly out over the patrons in the main hall.
This grand day of festivities will conclude with an Evening Celebration featuring the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas with special guests Delta Cappella, the VoiceJam 2015 competition winners from Memphis as well as Chicago’s Mucca Pazza. Attendees can stop by the comedy lounge for a few laughs or the jazz lounge for the soulful sounds of Champian Fulton, kick back and enjoy a number of acoustic sets, or kick up your heels while swing dancing alongside lively tunes from the Fayetteville Jazz Collective.
We hope the new Walton Arts Center will continue to be a gift to the current and future generations of Northwest Arkansas. With a grand community gathering space bridging the vibrancy of Dickson Street and a newly renovated two-theater facility—including event spaces for local artists and large-scale productions to bring their magic to Northwest Arkansas—the 2nd Act of Walton Arts Center looks to be very exciting indeed.
We hope you'll join us and help christen the new building at our Grand Reopening Celebration.