Our vision for the Fayetteville theater expansion

We recently unveiled new concepts that would add 30,000 square feet of space to the Walton Arts Center Fayetteville campus at an estimated cost of $20 million. The vision includes an expanded lobby and plaza plus additional seating and a dedicated entrance for Starr Theater. This creates a vibrant streetscape, allows for more performances and special events and attracts more people to the entertainment district. Please keep in mind that these are just renderings of the project to show you the size and scope. Design elements will come later.

We couldn't be more excited about getting started on this project, and you may be wondering exactly what our timeline is for this expansion. We will have to see how things play out with fundraising and design, but we are ready to move! Our preliminary timeline looks like this:

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's talk about what will be included in the Fayetteville expansion:

Nearly 30,000 additional gross square feet of space including:

New main lobby that connects the Center to Dickson Street

  • Larger lobby to accommodate crowds for major events
  • Expanded concessions and lobby amenities
  • Additional restrooms
  • Outdoor covered plaza that creates synergy with Dickson Street
  • New special event spaces

Expansion and renovation of Starr Theater

  • New separate entrance plaza and dedicated lobby
  • Additional theater seating – Increase seating capacity from 165 to 250
  • Window to new plaza allows natural light into the room
  • Creates divisible room for more flexible event and performance space

Additional backstage support spaces to meet current and future needs of artists

  • New dressing rooms and stage storage
  • New production offices for visiting and local crew
  • Catering kitchen
  • Storage for instruments, pianos and electrics
  • Maintenance shop
  • New lighting system in Baum Walker Hall

Reconfiguration of Rosen Memorial Rose Garden/Bradberry Amphitheater

  • New access to garden from main lobby
  • New event space for indoor/outdoor events in garden
  • Option to cover garden

Expansion of WAC’s main administrative offices

  • Additional space to house WAC’s expanding staff
  • Conference room and office support space

Are you still with us? It's a lot to take in, but we are dedicated to ensuring our facilities further our mission to bring great performing artists and entertainers to Northwest Arkansas, and to being an active and dynamic part of the Dickson Street entertainment district. We know what this expansion means to us, but let's talk about what impact it will have on our community:

More shows and events on Dickson Street at all times of the day

  • A renovated Walton Arts Center with an expanded lobby, more special event space, and additional backstage support facilities, means more shows and events and more people coming to Dickson Street
  • Starr theater’s larger capacity allows it to be used for more types of performances
  • Separate lobby for Starr Theater means performances can seamlessly take place in both theaters at the same time
  • New event space throughout the complex meets NWA’s growing need for meeting, conference and special event space, bringing people to Dickson Street at varying times of the day

A new streetscape on Dickson Street that further invigorates downtown

  • New main lobby and plaza become an active part of the streetscape
  • The Expansion compliments new and exciting developments in the downtown, including the remodeled Town Center and the Chancellor Hotel, cementing Downtown Fayetteville as an event and entertainment destination
  • More people coming to performances and events bring increased economic development to Fayetteville
  • WAC’s expanded main offices contribute to the downtown daytime economy

Better facilities for touring artists

  • More storage and production space to accommodate touring companies’ larger casts, crews and sets
  • New lighting system to keep up with changing technology

Increased opportunities for local arts groups

  • More performance opportunities for local groups in the facility
  • Better space and equipment

After reviewing our preliminary expansion timeline, what the project will include and how it will impact our community, we have a bird's eye view of what our campus would look like. As most of you probably know, the City of Fayetteville is also planning to build a parking deck on or around the Walton Arts Center campus. The architecture firm that we're working with made a rendering of what our campus would look like both with the parking deck on our lot, and with the deck on an adjacent lot.

As we mentioned above, we are thrilled about this project and what it means for our community. We hope that you are as well. You can find more information about our vision for Walton Arts Center on our website.

We would love to hear what you think - leave your comments below!