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.


Today is last day to purchase tickets for First Ladies event at Old State House

Help save the dresses by participating in the Luncheon on Tuesday, October 6!

The First Ladies’ Gowns exhibit at the Old State House Museum is the largest exhibit of its kind outside the Smithsonian and by far the most popular at the museum. The exhibit features gowns worn by the first ladies alongside items of everyday life in Arkansas from the 1840s to the present.

While the gowns have always been preserved according to the highest professional standards, some deterioration with age is inevitable. The current version of the First Ladies’ Gowns exhibit is housed on the second floor of the museum, in the west wing, in cases specially designed to minimize the deterioration caused by light, dust and humidity.

During a routine survey of artifacts in 2014, the museum’s curator noticed signs of stress on certain gowns. Upon closer inspection it was decided that a textile conservator should evaluate the collection. The museum staff worked closely with conservator Harold Mailand to create a prioritized list of conservation needs for gowns in the exhibit.

“One challenge is to secure funding both to conserve the gowns and to update the exhibit area so that a substantial part of the collection can be kept on view while preserving the gowns for generations of future Arkansans,” said Bill Gatewood, director of the Old State House Museum, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

First lady Susan Hutchinson, along with the Old State House Museum Associates board of directors, a nonprofit group established to support the Museum, will host a lunch on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday, October 6, to raise funds to preserve the gowns.

A seated lunch on the lawn will be followed by a special presentation in the Great Hall. Five of Arkansas’s former first ladies (Ginger Beebe, Janet Huckabee, Betty Tucker, Gay White and Barbara Pryor) have committed to be present for the event and will attend a special reception for table sponsors before the luncheon.


14ish Cultural Highlights of 2014

2014 was a busy year.  Here are 14 cultural highlights. In no particular order. Except maybe once in while.

The Rep's Bob Hupp and Catherine Hughes flank NEA Chair Jane Chu

The Rep’s Bob Hupp and Catherine Hughes flank NEA Chair Jane Chu

Dr. Jane Chu visits Arkansas. Former Arkadelphia resident Dr. Jane Chu was appointed as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. In October, she paid a visit to Little Rock and northwest Arkansas. While in the Rock, she participated in a discussion at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and toured the new Creative Corridor spaces under construction for the Rep, Ballet Arkansas and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Chu was also the guest of honor at a reception hosted by the Arkansas Arts Council. While here, she had the chance to renew old friendships as well as make new ones.

Carroll Cloar exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center. The Arkansas Arts Center featured the works of Arkansas native Carroll Cloar. Much as the Biblical prophet who is ignored in his homeland, Cloar has long been better recognized outside of his native state.  The Cloar exhibit (which included a painting of future Little Rock mayor J. V. Satterfield playing football, a personal favorite of the LRCV) and the outreach by the AAC staff made great strides towards raising Arkansas’ consciousness about the works by the American treasure.

DSCF0011Robinson Center Music Hall closes for renovation. Opening in February 1940 as the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium, the City’s prime venue for performances and civic gatherings needed an external and internal facelift at 74. The building closed in July 2014 for a two year renovation which will see the reconfiguration of the performance and audience space in the music hall, the creation of a new special events venue overlooking the Arkansas River, and the restoration of this historic main lobby and front façade to 1940 appearance. During this closure tenants such as Ballet Arkansas, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Celebrity Attractions have temporarily relocated to other venues including the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center and the Maumelle Performing Arts Center.

Ron Robinson Theater opens. Shortly before one Robinson closed, another opened.  The Central Arkansas Library System’s new Ron Robinson Theater opened. This multi-purpose venue has quickly become home to lectures (by the library, the Clinton School and others), films (in partnership with Arkansas Times, Little Rock Film Festival and others) and music (including the Arkansas Sounds series).  Named for famed Little Rock adman Ron Robinson, the public spaces pay tribute to his love of movies and music about Arkansas.

Music Music Music

  • As noted above, Arkansas Sounds has switched from a concentrated music festival to instead offering a variety of music styles and genres throughout the year at the new Ron Robinson Theatre. The music has ranged from Big Band to Klezmer to Country to Rock to Rap.  This is only one of the new music offerings in Little Rock.
  • South on Main completed its first full year of the weekly Local Live free music series sponsored by the Oxford American and Landers Fiat. South on Main also started a Jazz on Main series as well as increased their bookings of other musicians ranging from Rodney Block to Rodney Crowell.
  • Meanwhile, The Undercroft completed its first full year of (mainly) acoustic music offerings at the corner of Capitol and Scott Streets.

New Works of Art.

  • New sculptures were added to the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden and Riverfront Park as well as the Bernice Gardens.
  • In what may be the first for any symphony in the US, the musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra commissioned a new piece in honor of the ASO board of directors. The work, composed by Christopher Theofanidis, was entitled The Wind and Petit Jean.  It was well-received by audience and musicians alike.
  • Ballet Arkansas sponsored a choreography competition “Visions” which featured five choreographers competing to be selected for a full-scale commission.  The winner was Hilary Wolfley whose work will be seen at the spring Ballet Arkansas presentation.
  • Finally, in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of Christ Episcopal Church (the oldest church in Little Rock to be at its original location), a new choral piece was commissioned. Daniel E. Gawthrop’s “Haste the Day” premiered on December 7.

mod delaneyThe Tonight Show with Kevin Delaney. Because Jimmy Fallon is really just a big kid at heart, he wanted to include periodic “cool” science experiments when he took over the “Tonight Show.”  After being contacted by a producer of Fallon’s show and an audition process, the Museum of Discovery’s Kevin Delaney was booked to appear.  He debuted on May 5 performing experiment with Fallon and returned on November 7. When not a guest of NBC, Delaney performs the same types of “Awesome Science” experiments for tens of thousands of children and adults at the Museum of Discovery.

New Festival of Arts. Acansa, a new multi-discplinary, multi-venue arts festival, debuted this year in September.  Over a five day period, ACANSA Arts Festival brought together audiences and cultural resources to present unique and exciting visual and performing works which celebrate the unique influence of the south and champion excellence and innovation in artistry.  There was theatre, dance, instrumental music, choral music, puppetry and visual art.

14 14 4Gridiron Returns. The talk of the return of the Star Wars movie franchise was not the only welcome news of returns. Gridiron, the biennial attorney fundraiser which spoofs politics, current events, sports and everything that is “sacred” to the general populace, returned after a hiatus.  Once again this effort was under the watchful eye of producer Judge Mary McGowan, the creative leadership of Jana Beard, and the writing prowess of the anonymous committee.  As has been the case in the past, many of the targets of the show good-naturedly showed up and laughed along in the audience.

Sculptures Returned.  Gridiron was not the only welcome return. Earlier this year several sculptures were stolen from the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park. After a media blitz about the theft, some people strolling through the park stumbled across a bag containing the missing sculptures. The pieces are in the process of being restored and will be reinstalled soon.

14 14 3Clinton Center turned 10.  Proving that you can come home again, quite a few of the people who were present for the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center in 2004 showed up again in 2014 to take part in celebratory festivities.  Among events included several lectures; a day of service benefiting the Arkansas Food Bank; a barbecue picnic; and a concert featuring Nick Jonas, Kool & the Gang and others which was hosted by Kevin Spacey.  The Clinton School also celebrated 10 years of lectures and innovative programs.

Preservation Concentration – The Quapaw Quarter Association marked the 50th Spring Tour this year. The event was co-chaired by First Lady Ginger Beebe and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith.  Later in the year, the QQA hosted its first Mid-Century architecture tour highlighting some of Little Rock’s buildings from this style. They ended the year with the news that they had purchased the William E. Woodruff House in east Little Rock. One of Little Rock’s oldest houses, it was built by the founder of the Arkansas Gazette.  They will shore up the building to try to ensure no further decay as the building is readied for its next phase.


  • 14 14 2Reese Rowland, architect and principal at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Little Rock, was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, awarded to fewer than 4 percent of AIA members.
  • Little Rock native Will Trice earned his third Tony Award in three years, this time for producing All The Way, the Best Play of 2014. His previous Tonys were for Porgy and Bess (Musical Revival-2012) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Play Revival-2013).
  • Arkansas native and frequent Little Rock performer Al Green was one of the 2014 Kennedy Center Honorees.
  • Little Rock’s Creative Corridor continued to rack up honors. The UA’s Community Design Center, which includes faculty and staff members from the school, won a 2014 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for its work on the Creative Corridor, on which it collaborated with Marlon Blackwell Architect of Fayetteville. The project also received the American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for Analysis and Planning.


  • 14 14Sharon Priest, a longtime cultural advocate as a City Beautiful Commission member, Little Rock City Director, Little Rock Mayor and Arkansas Secretary of State announced her retirement after 12 years as Executive Director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.  Over the past dozen years, she has continued her cultural advocacy.
  • One of Priest’s successors as a member of the Little Rock City Board, Stacy Hurst, was named by Gov.-Elect Asa Hutchinson to be his choice to lead the Department of Arkansas Heritage. She will oversee seven agencies including three Little Rock museums: Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Old State House Museum and Historic Arkansas Museum.
  • Following the closure of Starving Artists Cafe, the weekly Tales from the South program (which originated from there) had to scramble to find a place.  After several weeks of a completely nomadic existence, it is now settling into a rotating list of locations. The Arkansas Arts Center’s Best Impressions restaurant has been designated a “permanent” site for the first Tuesday of each month.
  • The free outdoor Movies in the Park celebrated its 10th season this year. Founders Blake Rutherford, Heather Allmendinger and Ben Beaumont were honored at the start of the season.  A few weeks into the season, the series screened the film Frozen and set a new record for attendance by logging over 7,000 attendees.
  • After the closure of the Riverdale cinema in 2013, the space sat vacant.  In June 2014, Matt Smith moved the Market Street Cinema operations into the Riverdale space. He upgraded the equipment at Riverdale (which was also a vast improvement over the equipment at Market Street).  The new Riverdale 10 shows a mix of first-run blockbusters as well as the independent films for which Market Street had been beloved.
  • The Studio Theatre was launched adjacent to the new Lobby Bar in downtown Little Rock.  In addition to producing its own performances, it is also the new home of the Community Theatre of Little Rock and Precipice Theatre.
  • Weekend Theatre founder Ralph Hyman retired as the Artistic Director of that group. He will continue to direct productions from time to time.


ACANSA Festival opens tonight with reception at the Governor’s Mansion

acansaSeptember 23, 2014 (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm)

The ACANSA Arts Festival officially opens during a cocktail reception at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. First Lady of Arkansas, Ginger Beebe, will host and welcome guests to enjoy cocktails and heavy appetizers.

Presenting artist, Matt McLeod, will finish a painting to be auctioned during the event. Music will be provided by The Muse Project, with additional surprise entertainment.

The ACANSA Arts Festival aims to inspire public appreciation for the arts and enrich the economic and cultural vitality of Central Arkansas.  The festival promotes positive collaboration between regional arts organizations, local businesses, government, and civic groups.  It is committed to increasing audience participation in the arts and generating opportunities for local commerce.  ACANSA seeks to broaden public access to the arts, provide educational opportunities, and encourage and cultivate emerging artistic talent and local artists and art groups.

Last Week to see First Ladies Gowns

OSH GownsThe Old State House Museum’s First Ladies’ Gown collection, which contains over 120 years of inaugural gowns worn by Arkansas’s First Ladies, will temporarily close to the public on September 8, 2014, so the gowns can be assessed for conservation needs. The last day to see the collection before the assessment is September 7, 2014.

“The Arkansas First Ladies Gowns at the Old State House Museum are, through the years, our most popular artifacts,” said Bill Gatewood, director of the Old State House Museum. ”Our responsibility to preserve the gowns yet make them accessible to the public creates a very challenging situation.  The Museum staff’s decision to begin conservation of the gowns exhibit must balance both considerations.”

During routine assessments this summer, Old State House Museum staff began noticing deterioration of many gowns. Two gowns were immediately removed from display for conservation, and internal discussion began about the futures of every gown. The decision was made to quickly move to have the gowns assessed.

“During a routine survey of artifacts on exhibit I noticed signs of stress on certain gowns in our First Ladies gowns exhibit,” said Jo Ellen Maack, curator at the Old State House Museum. “Upon closer inspection I determined a conservator specializing in textiles should examine the collection. My goal is to create a prioritized list of conservation needs for gowns in the exhibit. Once these needs have been identified, treatment will begin. The challenge is to do this while keeping as much of the exhibit as possible open to the public.”

The assessment will take place at the Old State House Museum beginning September 8 and the exhibit will be closed during this process. The collection will be examined by Textile Conservation Services and handled by Harold Mailand, who first examined the gowns in 1983. Mailand will examine the condition of each gown and work with the professional staff at the Old State House Museum to create a preservation strategy, and may include immediate removal of some gowns from display. The exhibit will then re-open. At a later date, more gowns may be removed from exhibit at the Old State House Museum to an off-site location to make changes in casework and lighting in the exhibit. The exhibit would be closed for several months if the Museum feels it necessary to make those upgrades..

“Even though the physical gowns may not be on permanent display at the Old State House Museum, we’re committed to providing access to information, photos and educational programs about the gowns through the Web, our publications, and any emerging media that becomes available” Gatewood said.

The First Ladies’ Gowns collection was the first exhibit to showcase Arkansas history at the Old State House Museum, debuting in 1955. The oldest gown in the collection is from 1889 and belonged to Mary Kavanaugh Oldham Eagle, the wife of Arkansas’s 16th Governor James Philip Eagle. The collection contains 30 inaugural dresses, including four from former Arkansas First Lady and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Currently, visitors to the Museum are able to view all 30 gowns, minus the two removed earlier this year, belonging to Elizabeth Little and Ewilda Robinson. After the assessment, the ability for visitors to view all the gowns at once may change.

The First Ladies’ Gowns collection is just one of many collections the Old State House Museum is tasked with maintaining and preserving. Other textile collections curated by the Museum include Civil War flags and quilts sewn by black Arkansans.  The Old State House Museum will provide updates about the gowns on social media including Facebook, Twitter and e-mail lists.

About the Old State House Museum

The Old State House Museum is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and shares the goal of all seven Department of Arkansas Heritage agencies, that of preserving and enhancing the heritage of the state of Arkansas. The agencies are Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the Old State House Museum.

QQA 50th Spring Tour this weekend

QQA_SpringTourLogo_COLORThe QQA will be celebrating its 50th Spring Tour this coming Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-11! This year, we’re holding the golden anniversary of the tour in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District. We’ve enlisted the help of Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe and P. Allen Smith as Honorary Co-Chairs to help us spread the word about our half-century anniversary. Shalah Brummett and Anthony Black will be leading our volunteer committee to make all the arrangements, and we’re excited to have the help of several other former Tour Chairs. The tour will include the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion and five houses within easy walking distance: the Cochran Cottage, Pierce House, Turner-Back House, Caruth-Cachran House and the Old Methodist Parsonage.

They have out of Candlelight Tour and Dinner tickets, as well as Sunday Brunch tickets. Tickets for tonight’s After Party and Sunday afternoon online, or by visiting Curran Hall at 615 East Capitol Avenue.

Saturday, May 10

5:30 – 7:30, Candlelight and Champagne Tour of Homes surrounding the Governor’s Mansion

Enjoy a leisurely stroll in this historic neighborhood with champagne, wine, and hor d’oeuvres while touring our featured homes.

7:30– 9:30, Dinner & Party at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion

Join us at the Governor’s Mansion for dinner and drinks with honorary co-chairs P. Allen Smith and First Lady Ginger Beebe.

9:30 onwards, The After Party at South on Main Restaurant, 1304 South Main Street

Help the QQA celebrate five decades of preservation work at a late-night party at South on Main with Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers.

Saturday night tickets are also valid for Sunday afternoon tour Sunday,

Sunday, May 11

11:00-1:00, Brunch and Garden Tour at Curran Hall, 615 East Capitol Avenue

Start your Mother’s Day festivities at Historic Curran Hall with a casual brunch buffet and mimosa bar and tour the Marjem Ward Jackson Historic Garden.

1:00-5:00, Spring Tour of Homes, Governor’s Mansion Historic District

50th Spring Tour of Homes with lawn games, kid friendly activities, live music, food vendors, trolley rides, and more!

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS: Debbie Reynolds

Rock the Tonys

Reynolds with Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe at Bolo Bash (photo by Bobby Ampezzan)

Reynolds with Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe at Bolo Bash (photo by Bobby Ampezzan)

Debbie Reynolds

Little Rock connection: Was featured guest at 2013 Bolo Bash.

Tony Awards connection: Nominated for Actress in a Musical in 1973 for revival of Irene. Her daughter Carrie Fisher was in the chorus of that show. Since today is Star Wars Day (May the 4th Be With You), it seemed appropriate to feature Reynolds today.