Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Arts & culture advocate, Dr. Joel Anderson to retire as UALR Chancellor

jeasmile-444x668University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor Joel E. Anderson announced today that he will retire following a 13-year tenure as chancellor and a 45-year career at the university. His retirement will be effective June 30, 2016.

Anderson became UALR chancellor in 2003, bringing with him more than 30 years of university and community service. He had previously served UALR as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and as founding dean of the Graduate School.

Chancellor Anderson’s announcement comes on the heels of a 1.2 percent increase in enrollment at UALR, including a 19 percent increase in first-time college students and a 7.1 percent increase in first-time transfer students.

“It has been a tremendous pleasure to see UALR grow and mature into the excellent, comprehensive university that it has become,” said Chancellor Anderson. “The faculty and staff of UALR deserve more credit than they will ever receive for their tireless efforts to help students achieve the dream of a college education that will enable students to adjust to a changing future and support themselves and their families.”

University of Arkansas System President, Donald R. Bobbitt will form a search committee in the coming weeks with the goal to complete the search by July 1, 2016.

One of the achievements he was most passionate about was the founding in 2011 of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity, a center designed to move Arkansas forward on the broad front of racial and ethnic justice through education, research, dialogue, community events, and reconciliation initiatives.

As professor, dean, provost, and chancellor, Anderson always related success of the university to success of the students UALR served. As chancellor, he launched numerous initiatives to recruit and retain more students and to reach out to underserved student populations. His signature is on more than 26,836 diplomas and the university’s fall-to-fall retention rate is the highest it has ever been.

“Joel is a true gentleman who cares about the university more than himself”, said Dr. Dean Kumpuris, chair of the UALR Board Visitors.  “He has no ego and has sought our advice and support more than he probably had to,” “His primary goal has been to shepherd the university to a better place, which he has done. We are lucky to have had him as a leader for so many years.”

Anderson, who grew up on a farm east of Swifton in northeast Arkansas, received a BA degree in political science from Harding University, an MA degree in international relations from American University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

“The university has good momentum. I need time to catch up on a backlog of books and also to see my grandchildren more often,” Anderson said.  “All the while I will watch with pride as UALR grows and changes.”

Highlights of his service as chancellor include:

  • The Windgate Charitable Foundation awarded UALR a grant of $20.3 million for a new Visual Arts and Applied Design center.
  • Since 2003, UALR has purchased the University Plaza shopping center which is now home of KUAR-KLRE Public Radio as well as the current home of the applied design center.

  • As part of the Coleman Creek Greenway project, the Trail of Tears Park was completed in 2011 to recognize the historical significance of the location on the south end of campus where the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes stopped for water along Coleman Creek.

  • Establishment of a Dance major, the only one in the state, within the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.
  • Much of the campus’s infrastructure has undergone substantial renovations including the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. Likewise, there has been an added emphasis on the promotion and maintenance of public art on campus.

  • Chancellor Anderson served as a “Scholar in Residence” in 2010 at the Center on Community Philanthropy at the Clinton School for his work on issues of race and ethnicity.

  • Dr. Anderson launched the Institute on Race and Ethnicity in 2011 to move Arkansas forward on the broad front of racial and ethnic justice through education, research, dialogue, community events, and reconciliation initiatives.  One of their projects has been the annual Civil Rights Heritage Trail installation.

  • In 2015, as part of its 40th anniversary celebration, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation honored Chancellor Anderson as one of 40 Community Leaders in the categories of community, education, nonprofits, and prosperity.

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New Deputy Director for Arkansas Heritage announced

DAH Dep DirStacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), announced today that she has named Rebecca Burkes as the new deputy director for DAH. Burkes holds an M.S. in operations management from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a Juris Doctorate from the Baylor University School of Law.

“I am very happy to bring Rebecca on board to help lead and manage DAH,” said Hurst. “Her skills in managing organizations and people will be a tremendous asset to us. Our seven separate agencies, operating under the larger umbrella of Heritage, will benefit greatly from her skills.”

Burkes most recently was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison. Previous to that, she lived in Northwest Arkansas, where she practiced law in Fayetteville (1993-95), was corporate counsel at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in Bentonville (1995-98) and was vice president and chief counsel for the Burkes Company, a diversified real estate development, construction and brokerage company (1998-2011).

The Department of Arkansas Heritage, through its seven agencies, seeks to recognize the state’s heritage and to enhance Arkansas’s quality of life through the discovery, preservation and presentation of the state’s cultural, natural and historic resources. The agencies are Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Old State House Museum.

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Tonight’s Oxford American Local Live – Heather Smith Band at 7:30pm at South on Main

llsom heatherTonight at 7:30pm, this week’s installment of Local Live features the Heather Smith Band!

Presented by the Oxford American magazine, Local Live showcases the best of local and regional music talent and is always free and open to the public. Call ahead to South on Main to make your reservations and ensure a table: (501) 244-9660. Local Live is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Ben and Jane Hunt Meade.

Heather Smith Band, a Little Rock based jazz/pop group, is set to release Stay Away Love, their first full-length album of original songs on May 9. The band originally formed in 2013 and is comprised of Heather Smith (lead vocals), Wythe Walker (keyboard, guitar, harmonica, vocals), Ray Wittenberg, (drums), Bill McCumber (bass), John Gaiser (electric guitar), and Matthew Holland (keyboard).

When asked to describe their genre of music, Smith is hard-pressed. “While we are heavily influenced by jazz of the 1940s and 50s [Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee], we also have some definite pop influences; specifically in our contemporary lyrics and the twenty-first century stories we tell in our songs,” Smith said. “It’s sort of a hybrid of jazz and pop that’s timeless with a specifically vintage feel, but also distinctly modern.” Smith and Walker co-wrote all the songs using Smith’s autobiographical lyrics. “All of our songs are based on actual experiences in my life, the good, the bad and the inevitable heartbreaks,” Smith admits sheepishly, “It’s wonderfully cheap therapy.”

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Jazz in the Park returns with the Dizzy 7 tonight

Dizzy_7_groupJazz in the Park is back this fall!  This free, family-friendly event featuring jazz in downtown Little Rock will take place every Wednesday night in September.

The Dizzy 7 plays music that ranges from Motown to Big Band, Latin to Dixie. It features a full rhythm section, a three-man horn section, and female and male vocalists. Dizzy 7 is composed of accomplished musicians who love what they do.

Dizzy7Logo-Small1The event is completely free, but no coolers are allowed. Beer, wine, soft drinks and water will be available for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit Art Porter Music Education. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome, and there is some seating in the natural stone amphitheater at the History Pavilion.

This event is sponsored by Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau and the River Market with special thanks to Art Porter Music Education.

Jazz in the Park takes place Wednesday nights in September from 6pm to 8pm. They will take place in the History Pavilion near the Junction Bridge and the River Market.

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Artist David Bailin at today’s Legacies & Lunch

Legacies & Lunch: David Bailin 
Wednesday, September 2, noon – 1:00 p.m. 
CALS Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street
David Bailin (work pictured above) is an artist who currently works primarily in drawing, but has worked previously in painting, writing, theater, and performance. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arkansas Arts Council.

At Legacies & Lunch, Bailin will discuss the artistic community he has found in Arkansas with artists Warren Criswell and Sammy Peters over the past thirty years. Their work has evolved, changed focus, and acquired new media and techniques, but has remained a central part of their lives, both individually and collectively.

Some results of those years of companionship are featured in the exhibition, Disparate Acts Redux: Bailin, Criswell, Peters, on view through Saturday, October 31 at Butler Center Galleries, 401 President Clinton Ave.

 Legacies & Lunch is free, open to the public, and sponsored in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council.  Bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided.

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Sculpture at the River Market accepting applications for 2016 Show and Sale

Sculpture at the River MarketOn September 1, Sculpture at the River Market began accepting applications from artists for the 2016 Fine Art Sculpture Show & Sale.

The organizers have notified a comprehensive list of sculptors via email, posts on Facebook page, and their website.  However, they are want to cast as wide a net as possible.  If you know of any sculptors who would be interested in applying please forward this application link to them –

Show Dates – April 22-24, 2016

Application Dates – September 1, 2015 – January 14, 2016

All show details are available for artists through the application portal, and the fee is just $50 – there are no other fees involved for artists so it is a great deal.

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60th Season of Community Theatre of Little Rock

ctlr1956-2016 – Sixty years. It is hard to believe that Community Theatre of Little Rock has been a Central Arkansas staple, delivering dramas, comedies, romances and musicals.

The season kicks off with Ira Levin’s Tony nominated murder mystery Deathtrap.  It runs September 3rd – 6th and 10th – 13th.

Seemingly comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a “dry” spell which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. A possible break in his fortunes occurs when he receives a script from a student in the seminar he has been conducting at a nearby college—a thriller which Sidney recognizes immediately as a potential Broadway hit. Sidney’s plan, which he devises with his wife’s help, is to offer collaboration to the student, an idea which the younger man quickly accepts.

Next up is the hilarious holiday musical The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical.  The holiday cheer runs November 26th to 29th, December 4th to 6th and 11th to 13.


It’s holiday time down in Armadillo Acres (North Florida’s premier mobile-living community), and everyone’s filled with warmth and beer. But when a freak bout of amnesia strikes the trailer park Scrooge, neighborly love is put to the test. Be on hand as Betty, Lin, and Pickles jingle all the way with some new neighbors in an all-new, all-trailer-park musical! This companion to the original GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is just as much of a cat-fightin’, sun-worshippin’, chair-throwin’ good time-—but with tinsel and Keg Nog.

The first show of 2016 is William Inge’s classic Bus Stop.  This romantic comedy-drama runs February 11th-14th and 18th-21st.

In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, is the passenger with most to worry about. She’s been pursued, made love to and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. As a counterpoint to the main romance, the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-age scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance.

The next show is the warm-hearted, nostalgic comedy On Golden Pond by Ernest L. Thompson.  It plays from April 14th – 17th and 21st to 24th.

This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory—but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Irving Berlin’s sharp-shooting musical Annie Get Your Gun closes out the season in June 2016. Running June 3rd-5th, 10th-12th, and 17th-19th, it shows why “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Annie Oakley is the best shot around, and she manages to support her little brother and sisters by selling the game she hunts. When she’s discovered by Col. Buffalo Bill, he persuades this novel sharpshooter to join his Wild West Show. It only takes one glance for her to fall head over heels for dashing shooting ace Frank Butler, who headlines the show. She soon eclipses Butler as the main attraction which, while good for business, is bad for romance. Butler hightails it off to join a rival show, his bruised male ego leading the way, but is ultimately pitted against Annie in a final shoot-out. The rousing, sure-fire finale hits the mark every time in a testament to the power of female ingenuity.

Performances are at the Studio Theatre at 328 W. 7th Street.  Curtain times are: Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nights, 7:30 pm and Sunday Matinees, 2:00 pm.



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