“Intermission” at Robinson Center comes on July 1

Robinson IntermissionAfter several years of planning and an overwhelming vote of support by the Little Rock electorate, the renovations of Robinson Center Music Hall start after a press conference and ceremony on Tuesday, July 1 at 10am.

The building will be closed for two years as the music hall space is re-envisioned with a new, dynamic design implemented which will create not only an outstanding experience for the audience but also for the performers.

In addition, a new special event space will be built along the north side of the building taking advantage of Arkansas River and Riverfront Park views.

Though the Music Hall interior will be re-purposed and re-designed including a two level lobby space, the historic Markham Street lobby a the top of the stairs will be preserved.  In a nod to the appearance when it opened in February 1940, the lobby will be refurnished to its Art Deco splendor.  While the original chandeliers and accents have been lost to time, they are being recreated and will be installed. In addition, the front doors and windows will be re-designed to mimic the original entrances to the historic lobby.

Following the two year intermission, the building is scheduled to re-open in 2016.

(If two years, seems a long time for an intermission, when one considers that the first act was 74 years, it is actually a proportionally shorter interval than one normally gets at performances.)

The Music of Texas will be focus of 2014 Oxford American Music Issue

oa texasRecently, Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey, Oxford American editor Roger D. Hodge, and the Texas Music Office will announce that the state of Texas will be the focus of the OA‘s 16th annual music issue. The announcement is at 4 PM at Austin’s iconic Continental Club.

“The Oxford American is thrilled to showcase the music of Texas, home of many of the world’s most influential artists and recordings,” says Rick Clark, the OA‘s music editor. “In addition to delving into the state’s noteworthy historic recordings and figures, we will put emphasis on Texas’s current vibrant, creative artistic culture.”

The issue will be published and available on newsstands nationwide in December 2014. It will be packaged with a compilation CD dedicated to the music of Texas. The magazine will include a special editorial section comprised of essays and features about the artists and songs on the CD.

“The Texas Music Office in the Governor’s Office is working closely with the Oxford American to help produce the Music of Texas issue,” says Casey Monahan, Director of the Texas Music Office. “We’re looking forward to this exciting and high visibility edition.”

The Oxford American‘s annual Southern Music Issue has won two National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it was first introduced in 1996. It is considered by many readers and listeners to be among the best music packages in the country. In 2012, Dwight Garner of the New York Times wrote, “The Oxford American may be the liveliest literary magazine in America….The CDs are so smart and eclectic they probably belong in the Smithsonian.”

Over the years, NPR has featured many of the OA‘s music issues on its broadcasts. Over the past twenty years, the Southern music issue has showcased an incredible range of talents spanning many genres and decades, including R.E.M., Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Isaac Hayes, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, and more. Music-writing legends-such as Greil Marcus, William Gay, Stanley Crouch, Peter Guralnick, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Rosanne Cash-have contributed memorable writing to the issues. Past OA music issues have featured the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and, last year, Tennessee.

What Dreams Are Made Of – COMPLEAT WRKS OF WLLM SHKSPR ends run at Ark Rep today

WllmShksprToday is the final chance to experience what Shakespeare has in common with football, cooking shows, rap and psychology.  The Arkansas Repertory Theatre production of The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) plays at 2pm and 7pm today.

Life is short. The complete works of Shakespeare are long. Now all of the bard’s most familiar pieces are condensed into one hilarious rollercoaster spoof! Ending The Rep’s season is an entertaining romp where audiences will see all of Shakespeare’s plays, reduced in madcap fashion, in less than two hours.

Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield (former founding members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company) and first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987, The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) later played at the Criterion Theatre in London, where it ran for nine record-breaking years.

The cast includes Rep favorites Avery Clark (Hamlet, Henry V, Death of a Salesman, The 39 Steps) and Ethan Paulini (The Full Monty, Avenue Q, White Christmas, Tommy) and Rep newcomer Patrick Halley.  The show is directed by Resident Director Nicole Capri. The design team includes Costume Designer: Shelly Hall, Set Designer: Chris Pickart, Lighting Designer: Dan Kimble, Sound Designer: Allan Branson and Properties Designer: Lynda J. Kwallek.

The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) is a parody of the plays of William Shakespeare, with all of them being performed in shortened and sidesplitting form.

It has become one of the world’s most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages, and is most notable for holding the (self-proclaimed) world record for the shortest-ever performance of Hamlet, clocking in at just 43 seconds. You don’t have to be a fan of Shakespeare, or even familiar with his plays, to enjoy this inventive, fast-paced comedy!


 Avery Clark, Patrick Halley and Ethan Paulini. Photography by John David Pittman.

Little Rock Look Back: Richard Rodgers

richard_rodgersOn June 28, 1902, Richard Rodgers was born.  He grew up to become a composer, producer and arts educator. For his talents he was recognized with two Pulitzer Prizes, a Kennedy Center Honor, and seven Tony Awards.

He is featured on this blog, because one of his shows was the musical South Pacific.  The fictional heroine was Little Rock native Nellie Forbush.  Through the success of the show, this “cock-eyed optimist” represented Little Rock to the world.  Rodgers composed a song called “My Girl Back Home” which contained references to Little Rock.  It was cut from South Pacific before it opened on Broadway in April 1949.  However it was used in the movie version and appeared in the 2008 Broadway revival.

The works of Rodgers have been performed by the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Wildwood Park for the Arts, Little Rock Wind Symphony and many other cultural organizations.  Numerous tours of Richard Rodgers musicals have been performed at Robinson Center Music Hall since it first opened in 1940.

48 Hour Film Project this weekend in Little Rock

2014 48hrLittle Rock will be overrun with filmmakers this weekend as the annual 48 Hour Film Project takes place from June 27 – 29.

From conception to post-production, participating teams have only 48 hours to make movie magic.  Filmmakers must write, cast, produce and edit a four to seven minute film in two days. Each team is given a genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue that must be used. The story is up to them.

“[The] 48Hour is a great experience for filmmakers and film fans alike who want to get a taste of what it’s like to complete a short film from scratch,” said Levi Agee, producer of the LRFF 48 Hour Film Project. “You’ll never participate in anything like it. This is Little Rock Film Festival’s fifth year supporting the film festival and we are all very excited to see what Little Rock puts up on the big screen.”

At the end of the weekend, each team will submit their completed film, which will be screened in the near future.

Registration is $175. Anyone interested can register here.  For more information, visit the website.

56th annual Delta Exhibition opens tomorrow at Arkansas Arts Center; Member preview tonight

Mark Lewis, Peoria Avenue #7, 2011, graphite and paper collage, 2013 Grand Award

Mark Lewis, Peoria Avenue #7, 2011, graphite and paper collage, 2013 Grand Award

“As one of the most anticipated Arkansas Arts Center events of the year, the 56th Annual Delta Exhibition offers a unique snapshot of the Delta region,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “The widely held exhibition sanctions local artists to lead and inspire their respective communities through art, education and cultural excellence.”

The Delta Exhibition opens tomorrow. Members of the Arkansas Arts Center can have a sneak peek tonight at a Member reception.  Prior to the reception, there will be a lecture by Brian Rutenberg who was the guest juror for this year’s show.

The Delta Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture was founded in 1956 to feature contemporary work by artists from Arkansas and the bordering states. Today, the 56th Annual Delta Exhibition has grown to encompass works in all media and is a showcase for the dynamic vision of the artists of the Mississippi Delta region. The diversity of their art reflects the region’s strong traditions of craftsmanship and observation, combined with an innovative use of materials and an experimental approach to subject matter.

The competition is open to all artists who live in or were born in one of the following states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. All work must be completed during the last two years and must not have been exhibited previously at the Arkansas Arts Center. This year’s exhibition will be on view June 27 – September 28 in the Townsend Wolfe Gallery.

Guest juror Brian Rutenberg of New York selected works for the exhibition in addition to a Grand Award, with a cash prize of $2,500, and two Delta Awards, with cash prizes of $750 each, for the top works in the show. Juror Rutenberg earned his Master of Arts degree from New York’s acclaimed School of Visual Arts and went on to become a Forum Gallery artist in 2001. He has since had three successful solo exhibitions and actively exhibits throughout the United States and Canada.

For more information, visit arkansasartscenter.org/delta or call(501) 372-4000.

ArtPlace America Awards $345,000 to Little Rock for Main Street

ArtPlace_MAP_OCD_trans-520x337ArtPlace America announced today that the City of Little Rock has been awarded a $345,000 grant to enhance its creative placemaking project on Main Street Creative Corridor – a four block area of Main Street where arts organizations are relocating.  Little Rock is one of only 55 of 1,300 communities selected to receive 2014 funding.

In Little Rock the money will be used in a four block area of the Creative Corridor to enhance streetscapes, signage, artwork and an opening celebration.

“We are delighted to share this exciting news with our community. While we know first-hand that deploying the arts can transform communities, having our work recognized by a generous grant from ArtPlace further supports and validates our efforts to use the arts to revitalize our city,”  said Mayor Mark Stodola.

“Investing in and supporting the arts have a profound impact on the social, physical, and economic futures of communities,” said ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie L. Bennett. “Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”

About ArtPlace America

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) advances the field of creative placemaking, in which art and culture plays an explicit and central role in shaping communities’ social, physical, and economic futures.  To date, ArtPlace has awarded $56.8 million through 189 grants to projects serving 122 communities across 42 states and the District of Columbia.

ArtPlace is a collaboration among the Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Surdna Foundation, and two anonymous donors.

ArtPlace seeks advice and counsel from its close working relationships with the following federal agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the US Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.

ArtPlace has additional partnership from six major financial institutions: Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

Little Rock Creative Corridor schematic designs for Main Street are on the City’s website: http://www.littlerock.org/!userfiles/editor/docs/The%20Creative%20Corridor_Final%20Report.pdf.