As the 2019 look back wraps up, here are items numbered 17, 18 & 19.
17 – A new format for ACANSA. 2019 was the Sixth Annual ACANSA Arts Festival of the South. This edition has a slightly different format taking place on three successive weekends in September.
The event kicked off on Second Friday Art Night. The opening event was a double bill of the Arts+Culture Commission’s Open Studios preview inside the CALS Bobby Roberts Library and Ballet Arkansas’ Art with a Twist. In the latter, the members of the Ballet Arkansas company created artwork by covering themselves in paint and applying the paint to large canvases stretched along walls on buildings in the CALS Library Square campus.
Other highlights of the 2019 ACANSA included: Hot Club of Cowtown, Stewart Fullerton’s Homecoming Queen, Gina Chavez, Bill Bowers: All Over the Map, the first ACANSA produced play production (Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire), American Guitarist & Composer Bill Frisell, Tenors Unlimited, BODYTRAFFIC, Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies, Tatiana R. Mann and Friends, author & food historian Jessica B. Harris, and the Dallas String Quartet Where Bach Meets Bon Jovi.
The festival ended with an Arkansas Symphony Orchestra collaboration featuring conductor JoAnn Falletta leading the ASO in Ravel’s La Valse, Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful musical telling of the Arabian Nights legends, Scheherazade. That evening also included a performance by Time for Three.
18 – Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust gives $2.25 million to UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture. On September 10, UA Little Rock announced that the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust (WRCT) had gifted $2.25 million to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture to preserve and educate the public about the history of Arkansas, including the notable contributions of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.
The gift will create the Winthrop Rockefeller Archival Fund, a quasi-endowment. It is the sixth-largest cash gift in UA Little Rock’s history. Funds will be used to preserve, house, and catalog historical items of their collections and to support activities related to the Center’s mission.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust donated the Rockefeller Collection to the center in 1980, which was instrumental in establishing UA Little Rock’s archives program. Plans call for CAHC to increase its archives to include collections of underrepresented groups that will complement its collection of records related to state leaders. The Center will also increase efforts to digitize collections housed in the archive, making this historic information more accessible to the public.
Additionally, the Center will offer more educational opportunities for students by granting awards to conduct research and providing experiential learning opportunities. The gift will allow the center to create educational activities, research initiatives, and events associated with the Rockefeller Collection and other collections housed in the Center.
19 – Little Rock’s new Mayor, Frank Scott, Jr. January 1, 2019, marked the swearing in of Frank Scott, Jr., as Little Rock’s 73rd Mayor. Unlike any predecessor, he established a Transition Board to help set goals in a variety of subject areas. One of those areas was Quality of Life. This should not be a surprise since he is a graduate of Parkview Arts and Science Magnet School. The arts, humanities, culture and museums throughout the entirety of Little Rock have been prominent in his first-year initiatives. Additionally, he has:
- Established a Zoo Task Force has been studying the needs and plans for the future of the Little Rock Zoo. It is reviewing the Zoo’s current business model, developing an action plan for future funding and also examining the Zoo’s current facilities Master Plan developed in 2014 to look for new opportunities in animal habitat design, guest amenity and park design.
- Created the R-3 Task Force to discuss ways of revitalizing lands that were previously municipal golf courses. A survey of the public received more than 11,000 responses with ideas for repurposing the land.
- Included arts and cultural entities in discussions of Opportunity Zones as well as recognizing the arts as an important part of education discussions.
- Created the Public Affairs and Creative Economy Office to coordinate, collaborate, and maximize opportunities with arts, culture, heritage, museums, and creative entities and industries in Little Rock. Plans are underway for Little Rock to participate in a national study looking at the economic impact of the arts.