Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

Little Rock Look Back: President Clinton performs with Arkansas Symphony

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton addresses the audience after reciting Martin Luther King’s famous speech, ‘I Have A Dream’, to the music of Alexander L. Miller at Robinson Auditorium March 25, 2003 in Little Rock. (Photo by Karen E. Segrave/Getty Images)

On March 25, 2003, former President Bill Clinton took the stage of Robinson Center Music Hall to perform with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Entitled “Let Freedom Ring – A Patriotic Celebration,” the evening was a joint fundraiser for the Symphony and the Clinton Foundation.

Before a packed house, Clinton narrated Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait which weaves excerpts from Lincoln speeches with Copland’s own unique classical take on American heartland music.  Clinton also narrated Let Freedom Ring, a symphonic setting by Alexander Miller of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

The evening also consisted of Broadway veteran and Little Rock favorite Lawrence Hamilton singing “Wheels of a Dream” from the musical Ragtime.  On Broadway and on national tour, Hamilton had previously sung the song.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra also performed An American in Paris by George Gershwin and “Jupiter” from The Planets by Gustav Holst.  This final selection was a tribute to the seven astronauts who had died in the crash of the space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003.

David Itkin, who was then the musical director of the ASO, conducted the concert.


Little Rock Look Back: A Dozen Years of the Clinton Library

SkipIt has been twelve years.  Have you warmed up yet?

Many remember November 18, 2004, for the rain and cold wind which greeted visitors to the opening of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park.  In the years which lead up to that day, November 18, 2004, was known simply as “Game Day” for a group of people.  The chief one was Skip Rutherford.

Overseeing the planning for the Clinton Presidential Center and the events surrounding it had been the focus of James L. “Skip” Rutherford for many years. A FOB for decades, he had stayed in Little Rock when so many went to Washington DC in 1993.

He oversaw the planning for the Clinton Library and led the Clinton Foundation.  No detail was too small or insignificant for him to consider. For months leading to the opening he led meetings to help restaurants, hotels, and attractions understand the scope of the opening.

Together with Dean Kumpuris and Bruce Moore on behalf of the City of Little Rock and Stephanie Streett of the Clinton Foundation, he reviewed plans for the Clinton Presidential Park and the streets and neighborhoods around the Clinton Presidential Center.

Skip used his connections with the business community in Little Rock and throughout the state to discuss the importance of a Presidential Library regardless of one’s personal political affiliations.  He withstood critics who second-guessed everything from the cost, the design, the location, the purpose, and even the anticipated tourism and economic impacts.

Finally the big day had come.  If the weather was not ideal, that was almost inconsequential. It was still the culmination of more than seven years hard work.  As he remarked later that evening when discussing the weather “Many who attended today go to events like this all the time.  This is one they won’t forget!”

However, the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center was not the end of the task. It merely was the move from one phase to another. A few years later, Skip’s role would change as he would leave the Foundation and become the second Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service.

New movie RACE about Jesse Owens shown tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

Clinton Center Race filmJoin the Clinton Foundation on Monday, February 22, for a special showing of the new movie Race, in celebration of Black History Month.

Race is based on the incredible true story of Jesse Owens, the legendary athletic superstar whose quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy. As a student and athlete in Depression-era America, James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (portrayed by Stephan James of Selma) bears the weight of family expectations, racial tension at his college Ohio State University, and his own high standards for competition.

Race, MPAA-rated “PG-13,” is an enthralling film about courage, determination, tolerance, and friendship, and an inspiring drama about one man’s fight to become an Olympic legend.

This event is held in partnership with Focus Features and the City of Little Rock.

Ron Robinson Theater

Monday, February 22

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. | Program begins at 6:30 p.m.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Clinton Center TODAY from 10am to 2pm

Clinton LibraryCelebrate Valentine’s Day at the Clinton Center on Saturday, February 13, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Come make cards for your loved ones, send Valentine’s Day wishes to patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and enjoy FREE family activities, including “Recreate an Original,” an opportunity to become part of Norman Rockwell’s original paintings, Out Fishin’ and Barefoot Boy.

The Coca-Cola exhibit will be ending soon, so this is a good chance to see it one final time.

Saturday, February 13, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Clinton Presidential Center

This event is free, but regular admission fees apply to tour the Library.

15 Highlights of 2015 – Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter led panel at Clinton Presidential Center

Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter addressing the audience. Photo by James Doyle

On October 21, 2015, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter and a distinguished panel of Arkansas educators and artistic directors discussed national trends in teaching the arts and humanities, while exploring new ways to give Arkansas schools access to combined national and local resources.

While no single cultural institution in Arkansas can match the reach & multi-disciplinary offerings of The Kennedy Center, Little Rock and Arkansas have many of the same resources distributed across multiple institutions. Educators and arts advocates from across the state participated in this very important conversation about the transformation of arts and humanities education in Arkansas through deeper collaboration between these institutions.
The program included two engaging panels.
Educator Discussion Panelists
  • Joy Pennington ( Moderator ), Executive Director, Arkansas Arts Council
  • Zinse Aggine, Teaching Artist and Musician
  • Jama Best, Senior Program Officer, Arkansas Humanities Council
  • Dr. Jeff Grubbs, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Lana Hallmark, Fine Arts Coordinator, Arkansas Department of Education
  • Melanie Landum, Executive Director, Arkansas A+ Schools
  • Dr. Lenore Shoults, Executive Director, The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas
Institution Discussion Panelists
  • Dr. Todd Herman  ( Moderator ), Executive Director, Arkansas Arts Center
  • Sericia Cole, Director, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director, Arkansas Repertory Theatre
  • Philip Mann, Music Director, Arkansas Symphony
  • Deborah Rutter, President, The Kennedy Center
  • Stephanie S. Streett, Executive Director, Clinton Foundation
This event was hosted by the Clinton Foundation; President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts member, Kaki Hockersmith; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Donna and Mack McLarty; and the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

15 Highlights of 2015 – Chelsea Clinton was 1,000th Clinton School Speaker


Eleven years to the day of the first Clinton School Speaker Series public program, that initiative celebrated its 1,000th speaker on September 18, 2015.

In “It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!,” Chelsea Clinton tackles the biggest challenges facing us today. She combines facts, charts, photographs and stories to give readers a deep understanding of the world around them and how anyone can make a difference. With stories about children and teens who have made real changes big and small, this book inspires readers of all ages to do their part to make our world a better place.

One of Clinton’s favorite childhood books was “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth.” As an elementary school student in Little Rock, she helped start a paper-recycling program at her school; as a teenager in Washington, D.C., she led her school’s service club; and as a student at Stanford University, she volunteered as a reading and writing tutor and at the Children’s Hospital.

Today, she is Vice Chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation where she helps lead the work of the Foundation across its various initiatives, with a particular focus on work related to health, girls and women, creating service opportunities, and empowering the next generation of leaders. Chelsea holds a BA from Stanford University, an MPH from Columbia University, and an MPhil and doctorate degree in international relations from Oxford University.

The lecture featuring Chelsea Clinton was the 1,000th public program for the Clinton School of Public Service. On September 18, 2004, the Clinton School welcomed their first public program speaker, Senator Bob Dole.

This event will be at the Wally Allen Ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center at 6pm.

Little Rock Look Back: Clinton Library Groundbreaking

bill groundbreak14 years ago today the groundbreaking for the Clinton Library took place on December 5, 2001. It was dry and about thirty degrees warmer than the actual opening would be in November 2004.

The former president was joined by then-Mayor Jim Dailey, City Director Dean Kumpuris, then-Assistant City Manager Bruce Moore, contractor Bill Clark, then-Clinton Foundation executives Skip Rutherford & Stephanie Streett, and other dignitaries in turning the dirt. The location for the ceremony is now actually the parking lot for Sturgis Hall – the home of the Clinton School of Public Service and Clinton Foundation offices.

President Clinton was the only member of his family to attend the ceremony, which drew over 400 people. His wife, then the junior Senator from New York, was expecting some important floor votes in Washington DC, and daughter Chelsea was studying in England.

At the ceremony, Clinton joked “We’re going to try to build it in less than it took to build the medieval cathedrals and the Egyptian pyramids, but if I can’t rein in my team it may cost as much!” Of course by then the date was set for November 2004. Coordinating schedules of the current and former Presidents is an intricate act.