Three Little Rock arts organizations announced as NEA grant recipients

Three Little Rock organizations were announced today as recipients of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  They are: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, and the Oxford American magazine.

Each year, more than 4,500 communities large and small throughout the United States benefit from National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants to nonprofits. For the NEA’s first of two major grant announcements of fiscal year 2019, more than $25 million in grants across all artistic disciplines will be awarded to nonprofit organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These grants are for specific projects and range from performances and exhibitions, to healing arts and arts education programs, to festivals and artist residencies.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Society, Inc.
Challenge America
To support concert performances and related outreach activities.

Chamber Music Society of Little Rock
Challenge America
To support a series of chamber music performances and related educational programming.

Oxford American Literary Project
Art Works — Literature
To support publication and promotion of the magazine.

First documented theatrical performance in Little Rock on January 8, 1835

On January 8, 1835, the Little Rock Town Council passed an ordinance granting the Society of Thalians a one year franchise to conduct performances in Little Rock.

That same day, the Thalians performed She Stoops to Conquer, Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 comedy.

The following week, on January 17, they performed the comedy Ways and Means (by George Colman, Jr.) and David Garrick’s farce The Lying Valet.

The cost of the license to perform was $10 for the year. That would be the equivalent of $287 today. The ordinance also instructed the Town Constable to attend, by himself or a deputy, all theatrical performances to keep and preserve order.

There may well have been theatrical troupes come through Little Rock prior to January 1835, but records do not exist to any performances they may have given.  The performances by the Thalians are the first documented theatrical productions in Little Rock.

On Twelfth Night – a look ahead to 2020 Arkansas Shakespeare Theater’s lineup

Today is Twelfth Night. Since it is also the title of one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays, it seems a good chance to preview the 2020 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season.

While they HAVE produced Twelfth Night, it is not part of the 2020 season.

The lineup DOES include: As You Like It, Into the Woods (based on the writings of my relatives the Brothers Grimm), as well as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

Performances will take place on the UCA campus, both in Reynolds Performance Hall and outdoors on the lawn of McAlister Hall.

As she prepares for her ninth year as producing artistic director of AST, Rebekah Scallet said she wanted an exciting repertory season that would capture audiences’ imaginations and challenge them to think about their lives. She chose the three shows in the 2020 season based around the theme “Sweet are the uses of adversity,” a line from “As You Like It.”

Actors, directors, designers and crew members will arrive in Conway in early May 2020 to begin the process of creating the three shows in AST’s 14th season.

“We’ll open the season with ‘The Complete Works’ outdoors on the beautiful lawn of McAlister Hall. Our outdoor venue draws huge crowds, and our audiences look forward to the show and the entire experience of Shakespeare under the stars. We hope that theatre-goers in Arkansas and around the region will recognize AST for its dedication to the cultural and artistic growth that is currently underway in our state,” said Marotte.

Performance dates will be announced in coming weeks.

Mary Ruth Marotte is the Executive Director and Rebekah Scallet is the Producing Artistic Director.