Men & Women of Distinction: Mike Beebe will be shown by Arkansas Cinema Society tonight at CALS Ron Robinson Theater

Tonight the Arkansas Cinema Society is getting things started with a documentary about the 45th Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe.  

In 2010, a red tide swept Arkansas, flipping many federal and state offices to Republican control. But Democratic Governor Mike Beebe not only won re-election, he carried all 75 counties in Arkansas, an unprecedented feat. How did he do that?

Watch AETN: Men & Women of Distinction’s biography of Governor Mike Beebe.  In this uplifting one-hour documentary, commissioned in 2015 and directed by Kathryn Tucker, the former Governor reflects on his 32 years in elected office, with added perspectives from his wife Ginger, former Governor’s Chief of Staff – Morril Harriman, former Governor’s Director of Communications – Matt DeCample, columnist – John Brummett,  ASU fraternity brother & longtime friend – Johnny Allison, and former Attorney General’s Chief of Staff – Colette Honorable.

Matt DeCample, who served on Governor Beebe’s staff was instrumental in working with the Arkansas Cinema Society during its first two years. Today (August 21) is Matt’s birthday. Though he died earlier this year after a valiant battle with cancer, Matt’s presence continues with the Arkansas Cinema Society (not just through his appearance in this film). A special tribute to Matt will also be part of the program.

The program is at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre.  Doors open at 5:00pm with the screening starting at 6:30pm.

RESERVE TICKETS here.

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Join Arkansas Rep supporters at a Jailhouse Rock Party tonight at Rocktown Distillery

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Four musical legends are coming to Arkansas Rep – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins – and what better way to celebrate than a with a rock ‘n roll-themed party?

It will take place at Rocktown Distillery located at 1201 Main Street. The party will run from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Come out to support The Rep and meet others who are excited to see Million Dollar Quartet this fall!

*Enjoy a special performance by cast member Trent Rowland as Elvis.

*Taste Rock Town’s special $5 cocktail, “The Jailbird.”

*Members of The Rep’s young professionals group, The 601 Club, will receive a coupon for a free tour and tasting at Rock Town.

Little Rock Look Back: Roller Rink and Auditorium approved by LR City Council

Following the court decision which forbade the City of Little Rock from using public dollars to construct a municipal auditorium, a temporary solution was sought.  On August 20, 1906, the City Council approved plans for such a structure.

After the September 10, 1906, City Council meeting, the mayor told the Gazette that the Board of Public Affairs had leased part of the City’s land at Markham and Arch Streets to A. C. Read to construct the rink and auditorium.  The lease also allowed the building to extend out into Arch Street (the 1913 Sanborn Map shows it covering approximately two-thirds of the width of the street).  The mayor noted that, “It is stipulated in our lease to Mr. Read that the city shall have the use of the auditorium which he shall erect at any time.”

According to the Democrat, by September the building was already under construction.  That paper also noted that “after three years it passes into the hands of the city, when it can be repaired or remodeled to suit convention purposes.”  In the story about the new plans, the Democrat also gave the facility a very optimistic seating capacity of 9,000 people.

On August 13, 1906, A. C. Read, a businessman and real estate developer, petitioned the City for the right to construct a skating rink.  The matter was referred to the Street & Fire Committee, the Superintendent of Public Works and Aldermen Louis Volmer and Benjamin S. Thalheimer, who represented the Sixth Ward, in which the structure would be located.

By the next Council meeting a week later, the committee had reported back with a recommendation for approval.  Resolution 288 was adopted giving Mr. Read the right to build the skating rink.  Interestingly, the resolution did not contain the words “skating rink” though the original petition had.  Instead it permitted Mr. Read to construct a building “suitable for purposes as defined by the Board of Public Affairs.”

The resolution also stated that within three years the building would become property of the City.  The unnamed Gazette reporter at the August 21, 1906, City Council meeting did note in a story the day after the meeting that Mr. Read’s structure would probably be used as an auditorium in three years when the lease was up and the land use reverted back to the City.

Matters often languished in committees of the City Council for weeks; the one week turnaround of Mr. Read’s petition was highly uncommon.  It was also rare for the City Council to meet two weeks in a row.  The fact that it was reported back so quickly would be an indication that this was no standard petition from a citizen.

Civic observers might also have noted that the resolution contained language that a private citizen had been given permission to construct a building on City-owned property to the specifications of the City’s Board of Public Affairs.

August 20, 1961 – Groundbreaking for Arkansas Arts Center

On a warm Sunday afternoon, ten golden shovels turned dirt to mark the start of construction for the new Arkansas Arts Center.  The activity followed a series of speeches that day, August 20, 1961.

The speakers and dignitaries sat on the front portico of the original Museum of Fine Arts in MacArthur Park. That building would be incorporated into the new structure.

Among those who took part in the speeches and groundbreaking were Winthrop Rockefeller, Jeannette Edris Rockefeller, Gov. Orval Faubus, Congressman Dale Alford, and Little Rock Mayor Werner Knoop.

The efforts to create the Arkansas Arts Center started in the mid-1950s when the Junior League of Little Rock started an effort to establish a new art museum.  Next, the business community founded a Committee for a Center of Art and Science to accept funds donated.

When a suitable location within Little Rock could not be found, the decision was made to join with the Fine Arts Club and the Museum of Fine Arts.  Under the leadership of the Rockefellers, the drive to form the Arkansas Arts Center was launched. In September 1960, the City of Little Rock formally established the Arkansas Arts Center.

South Words, a new author series, is announced by OXFORD AMERICAN

The Oxford American is pleased to announce South Words, a new author series at Ron Robinson Theater (100 River Market Ave., Little Rock, AR 72201) featuring renowned OA contributors.

The inaugural season features Sarah M. Broom, author of The Yellow House (Tuesday, October 15, 2019); Van Jensen and Nate Powell, author and illustrator of Two Dead (Tuesday, November 19, 2019); Silas House, author of Southernmost (Tuesday, February 25, 2019); and Leesa Cross-Smith, author of So We Can Glow: Stories (Tuesday, March 31, 2020). At each event, the author will read from his or her work, then be interviewed onstage by a moderator. The events, all of which are free and open to the public, begin at 6:30 PM, with the doors opening at 6 PM. Books will be for sale onsite and authors will participate in a signing.

The presenting sponsor for South Words is the College of Fine Arts & Communication at the University of Central Arkansas. The series is presented in partnership with the CALS Six Bridges Book Festival. Additional season partners include the Clinton School of Public Service, Villa Vue at SOMA, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom, who published an essay called “A Yellow House in New Orleans” in the Oxford American’s Spring 2008 issue, is a memoir set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East. The book was published on August 13, 2019, to wide acclaim, including from New York Times critic Dwight Garner, who called it “a major book that I suspect will come to be considered among the essential memoirs” of the decade. In a cover feature in the New York Times Book Review on August 11, Angela Flourney wrote: “[The Yellow House] is an instantly essential text, examining the past, present and possible future . . . of America writ large.” The conversation with Broom will be moderated by KaToya Ellis Fleming, the OA’s 2019-20 Jeff Baskin Fellow.

Little Rock native Nate Powell, the artist of the #1 New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-winning illustrated trilogy March, has said, “I’m always eager to bring my home state to life through comics, and each book doubles as a love letter to Arkansas in all its contradictory beauty.” His next book, Two Dead, a Little Rock noir set in the 1940s, is a collaboration with author Van Jensen, a former crime reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The South Words event with Powell and Jensen will occur on the book’s November 19 publication date. A 16-page excerpt from Two Dead was published in the Oxford American’s Fall 2019 issue. The conversation with Powell and Jensen will be moderated OA Senior Editor Jay Jennings, author of Carry the Rock.

Silas House is a frequent New York Times contributor and the nationally bestselling author of six novels, including Southernmost, which was published in June 2018 and long-listed for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and named a best book of the year by Booklist, the Advocate, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and Paste. Excerpted on OxfordAmerican.org, Southernmost is the story of evangelical preacher Asher Sharp, who offers shelter to two gay men after a flood in a small Tennessee town. The conversation with House will be moderated by Seth Pennington, editor-in-chief of Sibling Rivalry Press.

Leesa Cross-Smith made her Oxford American debut in 2017 with “Ain’t Half Bad,” her widely read essay about Sturgill Simpson for the Kentucky music issue; in 2018, she was a regular contributor to The By and By, the OA’s online story series. She is the author of Whiskey & Ribbons (longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and listed among Oprah Magazine’s “Top Books of Summer”), Every Kiss a War, and So We Can Glow, a collection of forty-two short stories forthcoming from Grand Central Press on March 10, 2020. The conversation with Cross-Smith will be moderated by OA contributing editor Kevin Brockmeier, who is the author, most recently, of A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade.

For more information about South Words, visit OxfordAmerican.org/events