Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Little Rock Look Back: Clinton Center opens in 2004

wjc library openingIt has been thirteen years since the Clinton Presidential Center opened on a wet, cold Thursday.

The days leading up to it has been glorious.  And while the weather may have literally dampened spirits a bit, it was still an important day for Little Rock and Arkansas.

The events leading up to the opening included a concert by Aretha Franklin with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and an appearance by Senator John Glenn at the Museum of Discovery.  Events were hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Historic Arkansas Museum, and Old State House Museum.  There were scores of receptions and parties as Hollywood, New York, and DC descended on Little Rock.

November 18 dawned rainy and cool.  As the day continued on the precipitation continued while the temperature did not warm up.  Years of planning for a grand opening ceremony came down to this.  But at the appointed time, festivities began.

On the site of an abandoned warehouse district and unofficial dump which had previously been a train station, many leaders of the free world were gathered.  They rubbed shoulders with thousands of Arkansans from probably every county in the state.

It had been seven years and eleven days since Bill Clinton had announced the site of his presidential library.  It had been five years since artifacts and articles started arriving from Washington DC in Little Rock.  There had been lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, the threat of a Counter-Clinton Library, and countless meetings.

After speeches from Presidents Carter, Bush 41 and Bush 43, remarks from President Clinton and then-Senator Clinton (who was made even wetter by water pouring off an ill-placed umbrella), and even a musical performance by Bono and The Edge, Chelsea Clinton turned over the ceremonial key from the Clinton Foundation to the National Archives to officially open the Clinton Presidential Center.

In his capacity leading the Clinton Foundation, Skip Rutherford oversaw the planning for the Clinton Library and the grand opening festivities.  He, along with the foundation’s Executive Director Stephanie Streett, oversaw a phalanx of volunteers and staff to anticipate every detail.  The 1,000 days countdown sign that had been on the construction site (the brainchild of Tyler Denton) finally reached 0.

Isabelle Rodriguez, Shannon Butler, Mariah Hatta, Jordan Johnson, Lucas Hargraves, and Ben Beaumont — among others — had been putting in twelve plus hour days for months on end to get ready for the opening.  City Manager Bruce T. Moore led a team of City officials who had assisted on the planning and execution of the site preparation and making sure Little Rock was ready to welcome the world.  Moore and City Director Dean Kumpuris had been appointed by Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey to lead Little Rock’s efforts to land the library.  After Clinton’s announcement of the site, Dailey, Kumpuris and Moore continued to work together to ensure the library would be successful.

While the weather on November 18, 2004, may have been a disappointment, the people who were gathered knew they were witnesses to history.  And thirteen years later, is a day people still talk about.

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Today at 12:30pm at Clinton Center Great Hall, Clinton School Speaker Series presents The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry

curry_2Today at 12:30 in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, the Clinton School Speaker Series presents Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry was installed as the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church on November 1, 2015 and was elected and confirmed at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, UT, on June 27, 2015. He is the Chief Pastor and serves as president and CEO of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and chair of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church.

Presiding Bishop Curry has a national preaching and teaching ministry, having been featured on The Protestant Hour and as a frequent speaker at conferences around the country.  He has authored numerous publications including columns for the Huffington Post and the Baltimore Times. His most recent book, Songs My Grandma Sang, was published in June 2015; Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus was his first book, in August 2013.

*Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu or calling (501) 683-5239.

A livestream will be available here at 12:30pm.


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.


Today at noon – Legacies and Lunch with Bobby Roberts

robertsThe Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and Clinton School of Public Service present today’s Legacies and Lunch program which features a conversation with Bobby Roberts.

Roberts has been the director of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) since 1989. During his tenure at CALS, it has been recognized as one of the premier library systems in the United States, noted for outstanding public service and innovative programming. Roberts is retiring from CALS on March 4. On March 2, he will talk with Clinton School of Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford at the Butler Center’s monthly Legacies & Lunch presentation series.

A native of Helena, Ark., Roberts became a historian and archivist, a writer of Civil War history, a university faculty member, and a member of Governor Bill Clinton’s staff before taking leadership at CALS. At Legacies & Lunch, Rutherford will interview Roberts about his interest in history and politics, the transformation of CALS, and what he sees for the future of the library system, the city of Little Rock, and the state of Arkansas. This special program is sponsored in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 12:00 Noon
CALS Ron Robinson Theater


Clinton School Team Continues Work on the Delta Visual Arts Show

Clinton-School-of-Public-Service-LogoA University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student team-based project is continuing work on the Delta Visual Arts Show this weekend.

Started eight years ago by Clinton School students, the Newport Downtown Revitalization and Improvement Volunteer Effort (D.R.I.V.E.) and the Newport Economic Development Commission (NEDC), the Delta Visual Arts Show featured 13 local artists in its first year.

Now in its eighth year, The Delta Visual Arts Show will take place this Saturday, February 27th, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in downtown Newport, Ark., and will feature more than 180 artists from around the Delta.

Over the past eight years, multiple teams and projects have continued and expanded work in Newport and the surrounding area, including the creation of an alumni database, the study of Newport’s Blue Bridge, and the coordination of the first Delta Visual Arts Show.

This year, a Clinton School team will be helping with logistics during the Delta Visual Arts Show and will develop a fundraising plan to create a visual arts center in downtown Newport, continuing the collaboration started by the first team in 2008.

Students participating this year are Stacy Cox (Little Rock, Ark.), Zachary Glembin (Milwaukee, Wis.), Beau Papan (Little Rock, Ark.), and Keith Preciados (Miami, Fla.).

For more information on the show, visit www.newportaredc.org or call (870) 523-1009.


Today at noon at the Clinton School – A conversation about the upcoming Ark Rep productionof AN ILIAD

Arkansas Repertory Theatre producing artistic director, Bob Hupp, will host a conversation with Joe Graves, star of the upcoming one-man show, “An Iliad.” This production adapts Homer’s Trojan War epic into a compelling monologue that captures both the heroism and horror of warfare, and answers the question: “What has really changed since the Trojan War?”

This production makes the western world’s oldest extant work of literature not only intelligible, but immediate, relevant and eerily fascinating—as if a storyteller were telling the oldest story in the book and making you believe it is being told for the very first time. Gods and goddesses, weak-tendoned heroes and the face that launched a thousand ships…it’s all just another (incredibly engrossing) yarn in this one-man adaptation, developed at the Sundance Theatre Institute.

Graves has appeared at Arkansas Rep in many productions including RED, OF MICE AND MEN, ALL MY SONS and MY FAIR LADY.


“The Good Story: Inspiring Leadership” is focus of Clinton School program this evening

uacs hafreyLeigh Hafrey, author and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has worked in professional ethics for over two decades, with a focus on ethical leadership, teaching college courses at Harvard Business School and MIT and consulting for private organizations around the world. For 17 years, along with his wife, Sandra Naddaff, Hafrey was a co-Master of Mather House, one of the 12 residential complexes in Harvard College.

Hafrey is a sought after expert on the relationship between storytelling and inspiring leadership.  He has been featured at conferences all over the world discussing the connection between leadership and the ability to tell a good story.  As he told The Power of Storytelling in 2015:

Storytelling supplies a narrative logic to events past, present, and future. Presentations by definition work with the principles of storytelling: plot, place, character, conflict and resolution.  Some people do it better than others, and those individuals reach leadership positions in part because of their skill as storytellers. Think Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, Muhammad Yunus and Vaclav Havel.

In his most recent book, War Stories: Fighting, Competing, Imagining, Leading, Hafrey covers the arc of military American self-perception on the screen, in print, and in public conversation over the past 20 years.