Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

Leave a comment

LR Cultural Touchstone: Kathryn Donham Rice

Katy RiceKathryn Donham Rice was better known by her friends as Katy.  As a historian, she was an archivist and an author.

A native of Little Rock, she was a lifelong Methodist.  Her interest in Arkansas Methodist history led to her appointment as the Archivist of the Little Rock Conference of the United Methodist Church. In 1980, she authored A History of the First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas 1831 – 1981 to commemorate the church’s sesquicentennial. She served as church historian for twenty-eight years, creating with her husband, James H. Rice, Jr., the History Hall where many Methodist historic photographs and artifacts are displayed. She was a board member of the Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church and a charter member of the Arkansas United Methodist Historical Society.

In the 1970’s she was employed at the Old State House Museum, first as a guide, then as Registrar, a position for which she trained at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. In 1986 she was appointed to serve on the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission as head of the Religious Organizations Task Force. This group sponsored four regional workshops on church history-writing and church archives management during the year.

Katy was an active supporter of Hendrix College, her alma mater.  She volunteered as archivist in the Winfred Polk United Methodist Archives and the Bailey Library.  She also was active in the Aesthetic Club, where she served as President; the Arkansas Women’s History Institute; the Pulaski County Historical Society; and the Arkansas Historical Association.  She wrote two additional histories which were published: The History of Lakeside Country Club and The History of Belcher Lake Farms.

For several years she was a very active volunteer for the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.  She assisted with registrar duties, including processing many of the photographs in the Allison collection. For several hours every week, she could be found in the basement of the museum with her white archivist gloves on helping out.  She would also give tours of the museum once it opened.


Leave a comment

Little Rock Look Back: President Taft Comes to Town

taftOne hundred and five years ago today (October 24, 1909), William Howard Taft became the third sitting president to visit Little Rock.  His visit is the shortest presidential visit to the city.  In this day of touchdowns at airports by politicians on the political stump, it is interesting to note that the shortest visit was made on a train.  It was a true “whistle stop” visit.

Taft’s train arrived at Union Station (then a new building which burned in 1920 and was replaced by the one standing there today) in Little Rock to a crowd of 15,000. President Taft stepped from the train, made brief remarks in a hoarse voice that few heard, stepped back onto the train and departed.

That same day he spoke in Texarkana and Arkadelphia.  He was on his way to Helena to speak at a ceremony.

Leave a comment

Tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater – Arkansas Sounds presents the Lyon College Pipe Band

pipe_bandThe Arkansas Sounds monthly concert series continues with a performance by the Lyon College Pipe Band at the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., on Friday, October 24, at 7 p.m. The doors to the theater will open at 6 p.m. Admission to this concert is free and open to the public; seating is first-come, first-served.

Under the direction of Pipe Major Jimmy Bell, the Lyon College Pipe Band regularly performs at official college functions such as convocations and other ceremonies, in community parades, in concerts around the state of Arkansas, and at festivals throughout the United States and abroad. The pipe band competed at the 2006 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and won in its division. The group also won at competitions in 2013 at Sarasota, Florida, and St. Louis, Missouri, and it is currently placed at 12th in the world in its division.

Arkansas Sounds is a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies focusing on Arkansas music and musicians both past and present. For more information, call 501-918-3033.

Leave a comment

No Longer a Wait – WAIT UNTIL DARK opens tonight at Arkansas Rep

THEREP_WAITUNTILDARK (no credits)-page-001Frederick Knott’s Tony-nominated thriller Wait Until Dark opens tonight on the stage of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

This masterfully constructed tale of suspense will keep Rep audiences on the edge of their seat (but you still have to pay for the entire seat).

A sinister con man and two ex-convicts are about to meet their match. They have traced the location of a mysterious doll to the Greenwich Village apartment of Sam Hendrix and his wife, Susy. With murder afoot, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, as Susy discovers the only way to play fair is to play by her rules.

The cast is composed entirely of Rep veterans. It includes Amy Hutchins (It’s a Wonderful Life), Nate Washburn (Henry V), Michael Stewart Allen (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Romeo & Juliet), Robert Ierardi (Clybourne Park), Craig Maravich (Death of a Salesman), Michael Lowe (Les Miserables, Hairspray), David Tennal (Clybourne Park, Les Miserables), Reagan Hodson (Because of Winn Dixie), and Ella Moody (White Christmas).

The production is directed by Robert Hupp. Others on the production team include Mike Nichols (set), Marianne Custer (costumes), Yael Lubetzky (lighting), Allan Branson (sound), Lynda J. Kwallek (props), and D. C. Wright (fight choreography).

The show runs through November 9th.  Show times are 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sundays, 8pm on Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday matinees.


Leave a comment

Healthcare Pioneers focus of this year’s Civil Rights Heritage Trail

crht-banner-2014-thru-banner32Drs. Thomas A. Bruce, M. Joycelyn Elders, Henry Foster Jr., Edith Irby Jones, and Billy Ray Thomas, and five posthumous honorees will be recognized for their efforts to provide quality healthcare to all citizens at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, in the Little Rock River Market District at the entrance of the St. Vincent Medical Mile.

Posthumous honors will be bestowed upon Drs. Cleon A. Flowers Sr., Samuel Lee Kountz, and John Marshall Robinson; registered nurse Lena Lowe Jordan; and scientist and educator Phillip Leon Rayford, Ph.D., during the fourth annual Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail Commemoration.

Commemorative markers will be added to the Heritage Trail in honor of pioneers in health care, individuals who were either first of their race to graduate from medical school, or who have shared their professional talents generously in ways that have championed racial equity in Arkansas.

“This year, the Institute turned to healthcare because even though it is a profession by which African Americans in particular have been grossly underrepresented and underserved, Arkansas has a rich tradition of producing some of the nation’s best and brightest medical professionals,” said Dr. Michael R. Twyman, director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

The Institute is partnering with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center for Diversity Affairs to honor these healthcare professionals. The center specializes in encouraging young persons of color to seek careers in health and STEM professions.

“I am honored to be recognized with such accomplished people,” said Thomas, vice chancellor for diversity affairs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “It is also a very humbling experience because many of the other honorees are also my mentors.”

Like Thomas, the other nine honorees have made significant contributions toward social and racial equity in Arkansas – most of whom received their professional education and training during the the Civil Rights Movement era, during a time of deep civil unrest in the country and state.

“It is not lost on us that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education court decision that prohibited public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race,” said Twyman.

“Access to quality education and healthcare have become the predominant civil rights issues of our time,” he added.

Learn more about each honoree at supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to the Center for Diversity Affairs at UAMS, the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District; East Harding Inc.; Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association; Just Communities of Arkansas; the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and the Little Rock Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. are sponsors for the event.


About the Civil Rights Heritage Trail

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was created in 2011 to acknowledge the sacrifices and achievements made by those who have fought for racial justice in the state. The Heritage Trail begins at the Old State House and currently stretches to the front of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. As commemorative bronze markers are added each year, it will continue toward the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and beyond.     


About the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity

The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity was founded in July 2011. With a vision to make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, the Institute conducts research, promotes scholarship and provides programs that address racial inequities. It does so by facilitating open and honest dialogue aimed at empowering communities and informing public policy to achieve more equitable outcomes.

Leave a comment

4th Penguin Chick Born at Little Rock Zoo

Fourth Penguin ChickThe Little Rock Zoo is proud to announce that its fourth African penguin chick successfully hatched on Sept. 11 and is doing well.

A unique story follows this penguin. Unlike the Zoo’s last three, this penguin chick was hatched by penguins Mary Beth and Roy and foster parented by penguins Skipper and Eze. Skipper and Eze are parents to the Zoo’s last three chicks.

The new penguin, a male, weighed only 2.3 ounces when born. He now weighs six pounds and is growing strong. Penguin chicks grow quickly when they are first hatched and if they are healthy.

The birth of this penguin is a significant achievement in conservation because of the genetic makeup of penguins Mary Beth and Roy. Mary Beth and Roy were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is a conservation program of AZA that aims to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species. The African penguin is an endangered species whose population has declined more than 95 percent since preindustrial times. The African penguin is threatened by oil spills, overfishing, and climate change.

The chick will not be on exhibit until it is old enough to swim on its own. In the meantime, he enjoys lounging on the steps of the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit.

About the Little Rock Zoo

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.  With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.  For more information, visit

Leave a comment

LR Cultural Touchstone: Ann Nicholson

ann_nicholsonAnn Nicholson has been in Little Rock since the 1970s. She maintains the distinctive accent of her native Great Britain, which she puts to use as the “voice of UALR Public Radio” and the host of the weekly interview show “Art Scene.”

For more than 25 years, Ann Nicholson has shared the news and promoted cultural events in Central Arkansas via the KLRE/KUAR airwaves.  Host of “The Arts Scene,” an in-depth interview program that features local and international artists in all genres and a weekly arts calendar, Nicholson has loyal listeners who have enjoyed her interviews, her soothing and inviting British accent and her tireless enthusiasm for the arts. Those at KLRE/KUAR often refer to her as “the heart of Little Rock public radio.”

Being featured on Arts Scene has been a boon to many emerging organizations and institutions.  But more than that, her insightful and engaging interview style allows listeners to learn more about the artists and the artistic process.  The program feels less like an interview and more like a chance to eavesdrop on an entertaining conversation.

In addition to hosting the weekly interview program, she has been an active supporter of Little Rock’s arts community since her arrival.  She has been on the Board of Ballet Arkansas and UALR Friends of the Arts. She is often in the opening night audience at the Arkansas Rep.  She also rarely misses a performance of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Ann was a longtime member of the Little Rock Arts and Humanities Promotion Commission. She is a supporter of the Little Rock Musical Coterie and the National Federation of Music Clubs. When that organization’s national meeting was in Little Rock in 2002, she was involved in the planning of the meeting.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,265 other followers