An Expanded Starr Theater & More Backstage Space bring more show options to Fayetteville!

Last week, we talked about what renovation means for the WAC lobby, and today we're talking about changes in Starr Theater and backstage.

As we mentioned in our previous post, a critical next step to these plans is the upcoming bond election on Tuesday, Nov. 12. A vote of yes or no will not affect taxes; your vote just allocates funds from the HMR tax. The HMR tax was created to fund projects that increase tourism in Fayetteville.  Walton Arts Center has been the economic engine of Dickson Street for 22 years; arts attendees spend an average of $20 beyond the cost of admission at area restaurants, on transportation, for refreshments and more. (Read more about the economic impact of WAC here.)

For more information on the vote, see 3 Votes for Fayetteville on Facebook, and visit the Washington County website for a full list of polling sites. A map of polling places can be viewed here.

Starr Theater Renovations

  • Large windows (with blackout option)
  • New, expanded seating
  • Expanded space
  • Dedicated entrance

 Rendering of Starr Theater by Boora Architects. The circular, yellow chandelier is an example fixture, not part of the design.

Starr Theater will be reoriented with seating toward West Ave., and expanded from 150 seats to 250! A new large window will allow natural light for some events, but the space will still have the option of being used as a black box theater. Seating will remain retractable, so the hall can be used for social events, shows with cabaret seating like our jazz series or as a traditional theater space. Starr Theater will also have its own entrance and lobby space (open to the main lobby) to ease the flow of patrons on nights with two performances. 

What's more exciting for Starr Theater is that once the backstage expansion (discussed in tomorrow’s post) is completed, Starr Theater will have even more dates open for performances! In our current configuration, Starr Theater is used as backstage storage and dressing room space almost 100 days a year. Larger shows like Disney's Beauty and the Beast have such large casts and storage needs; they can't all fit in our backstage areas. Starr Theater will no longer have to moonlight as storage space, and can finally step up and make WAC the two-theater performance venue it was meant to be!

With all this potential, Starr Theater can continue to host the same types of shows it has in the past, and so many more! Our original productions, Digging Up Arkansas and Bear State of Mind, teach local students about Arkansas, are held in Starr Theater. With its independence from Baum Walker Hall's schedule, more series and recurring events could be held in Starr, such as Saturday programming for children, comedy and open mic nights, jazz and more. The possibilities are endless!

Backstage Renovations

  • Storage capacity
  • Office space
  • Crew facilities

Besides opening up more opportunities in Starr Theater, the backstage expansion makes WAC a more attractive destination for performers. Improved facilities will benefit backstage and show crewmembers, by providing them with designated bathroom and shower facilities so they have their own space after a hard and active day. Our administrative offices, which are scheduled to be replaced by a new city parking structure, will be configured into the new backstage area against the parking structure as well.

With these changes, we plan to improve our patrons’ experiences and draw more tourists to Fayetteville for many years to come!

Dickson Street Entrance and Plaza rendering by Boora Architects.