Plans for 2019-2020 season of Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre announced

While the Children’s Theatre at the Arkansas Arts Center undergoes a much-needed renovation, Children’s Theatre Restaged will bring the magic of live theatre to stages across Arkansas.  

In this reimagined format, the Children’s Theatre will expand its touring capacity while the Arts Center’s MacArthur Park facility undergoes its major renovation and expansion project. The Hobbit, on stage April 26 – May 12, will be the last Main Stage production in the current MacArthur Park building. Main Stage shows will resume in the Arkansas Arts Center’s renovated theater in fall 2022.

Children’s Theatre on Tour, part of the Arts Center’s Statewide ArtsReach program, currently serves more than 35,000 students and families in communities across Arkansas with three traveling productions every year. In this expanded format, Children’s Theatre Restaged will allow the Arts Center to reach even more students and families across the state with professional, educational live theatre experiences.

Through this expanded program, literary-based theatre productions will continue to travel to schools, community centers and libraries across Arkansas. The 2019–2020 Children’s Theatre on Tour season will include Wynken, Blynken and Nod: A Play for the Very Young (September 24 – November 1), A Christmas Carol (November 12 – December 20), The Arkansas Story Porch (January 14 – February 28), and The Wind in the Willows (April 7 – May 15).

Children’s Theatre Restaged will also include additional public productions and performances at the Arkansas Arts Center’s temporary location in Riverdale and at other community locations. Details about additional programming will continue to be announced throughout 2019.

Children’s Theatre Restaged is yet another piece of the Arts Center’s commitment to remaining accessible to the community while its MacArthur Park building is under construction. The Arts Center is committed to working with cultural partners across the region to expand access to performing and visual art programming while increasing programming reach.

“Children’s Theatre Restaged will continue and grow our mission by inviting more families and more communities to discover creativity on stage,” said Laine Harber, Interim Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer. “The Arkansas Arts Center was imagined as a hub for the arts in Arkansas. As we build our new home in MacArthur Park, we’re excited to take this interlude to build our reach across the state.”

Theatre classes will also continue while the Arts Center undergoes renovation. The 2019 Junior Arts Academy and Summer Theatre Academy will be held at the MacArthur Park facility this summer. While the Arts Center’s MacArthur Park building is under construction, those programs will continue at other community locations.

Children’s Theatre staff will work out of the Arkansas Arts Center’s temporary Riverdale space during the renovation and expansion project along with the rest of the Arts Center staff. In the Children’s Theatre’s 14,200 square-foot workshop, theatre staff will create sets, sew costumes, and build props for the Arts Center’s touring productions and programs.

“Children’s Theatre Restaged is the next chapter in the Children’s Theatre’s long history of bringing magic and joy to the stage,” said Bradley Anderson, Children’s Theatre Artistic Director. “We are excited to have this opportunity to expand our traveling programs and we can’t wait for families across the state to delight in the productions we’re creating.”

2019–2020 Children’s Theatre on Tour Season:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod: A Play for the Very Young
September 24 – November 1, 2019
Toddlers and preschoolers will delight in the enchanting and whimsical journey of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod as they sail away one magical night and meet the mystical Moon! Inspired by Eugene Field’s poem, this interactive musical for early-childhood audiences explores the fantasy world of dreams. The Moon asks, “where are you going, and what do you wish?” And the night sky becomes the sea and stars become fish as audience members see, touch, and participate throughout the play. Join Wynken, Blynken, Nod, and the Moon on this 45-minute multi-sensory adventure for the very young.

A Christmas Carol
November 12 – December 20, 2019
Clever, comedic, and kid-friendly, this holiday play breathes new life into Dickens’ heart-warming classic. Schooled by a team of magical Christmas Eve visitors, Ebenezer Scrooge, the most miserable of all misers, rediscovers the true spirit of the season—one of love, generosity, and family. With these touchstones of happiness revived in him, he wakes Christmas morning to find himself “light as a feather, happy as an angel, and merry as a schoolboy!”

The Arkansas Story Porch
January 14 – February 28, 2020
Old Winnie and Monroe Jones are the fun-lovin’est pair of Ozark hill folk you’ll ever hope to meet. Nothing tickles them more than sitting on their plank-board porch with friends and neighbors spinning yarns and singing songs of Arkansas lore and Arkansas history. And guess what? You’re invited! So pull up a seat and get ready to laugh and sing. It’s Arkansas story time, y’all!

The Wind in the Willows
April 7 – May 15, 2020
For Mole, Rat, and Badger, springtime is a time for new life, new friendships, and enjoying the simple pleasures—that is, until Mr. Toad of Toad Hall careens onto the scene. After a madcap spree of weasel clashes and motorcar crashes, it is up to the three friends to take the prodigal toad in hand and rescue him from his most dangerous enemy—himself.

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Temporary Home for Arkansas Arts Center announced

The Arkansas Arts Center will temporarily relocate to 2510 Cantrell Road in the Riverdale Shopping Center for two and a half years during the center’s upcoming renovation and expansion project.

The temporary location, about three miles from the AAC’s MacArthur Park site, will include studio space for Museum School classes, design and rehearsal space for the Children’s Theatre and additional flexible spaces for offices, retail, facilities storage and educational programs.

“The AAC’s impact in our community, both in Central Arkansas and across the state, is immense and enduring,” said Merritt Dyke, President of the AAC board. “In addition to the nearly 200,000 visitors to MacArthur Park, the AAC’s statewide outreach numbers approach half a million people. We’ve been working with numerous community partners to ensure that we can continue to fulfill our mission and to serve these people while the AAC is under construction.”

“The support we’ve received throughout this endeavor has been overwhelming, and we are grateful to Harriet and Warren Stephens who are chairing our lead gifts capital campaign,” said Dyke. “Without their leadership, this project would not be where it is today. I am greatly appreciative to the AAC and Foundation boards, staff and all our community partners for their role in realizing this important vision.”

The AAC’s staff of approximately 100 full-and part-time employees will office out of this location during the renovation. Groundbreaking on the AAC’s transformational building project is scheduled for fall 2019, with the project anticipated to be completed in early 2022. The MacArthur Park facility will be available for all regular summer programming, with the new temporary Riverdale location opening sometime in September.

“The AAC’s programs are a vital part of our community,” said Bobby Tucker, Chairman of the AAC’s Foundation board. “We feel it’s of maximum importance that they continue to be offered while the center is under construction. Our commitment to the success of this transformational project in MacArthur Park is unwavering, as is our commitment to the organization as a whole.”

The Cantrell Road location will offer convenient, secure parking and new amenities for AAC program participants. With 15,200 square feet of studio space, the Museum School will offer nearly all its current program of classes and workshops, including drawing, painting, ceramics, jewelry, glass, small metals, woodworking and printmaking for its nearly 3,000 students per year. Fall Quarter classes will begin in the Riverdale location in September.

“We’ve been working diligently for more than a year to ensure that our students have a creative space, with the equipment needed to continue to engage in our classes in a temporary location,” said Rana Edgar, Director of Education and Programs. “Over the next three years, we plan to welcome our students into well-appointed studios, with all our core classes currently being offered, in addition to offering expanded opportunities to build their talents.”

In the Children’s Theatre’s 14,200 square-foot workshop, theatre staff will create sets, sew costumes, and build props for the AAC’s productions, including touring programs. Children’s Theatre on Tour, part of the AAC’s Statewide ArtsReach program, serves more than 35,000 students and families in communities across Arkansas every year with traveling professional theatre productions.

“The work of the Children’s Theatre team doesn’t stop when the stage lights go down in MacArthur Park,” said Bradley Anderson, Artistic Director in the Children’s Theatre. “We create theatre productions each season that travel the state, in addition to our local summer theatre academies, theatre classes and performances at the AAC. This move will allow those programs to continue – and possibly even expand.”

The AAC Museum Shop will also move its retail storefront into 1,500 square feet of space, joining many other local restaurants and businesses in the area. Administrative, facilities, equipment storage and flexible educational spaces will round out a total of 65,000 square feet of space at the temporary facility.

The move is one piece of the AAC’s commitment to remaining accessible to the community while its MacArthur Park facility is under construction, and to working with arts partners across the region to expand programming reach.

“The AAC is more than any one space or one building. Our programs will continue to span across communities and extend across the state over the next two and a half years,” said Laine Harber, Interim Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer. “This would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of our board leadership in continuing to fulfill our mission and vision while we undergo these much-needed renovations.”

AAC exhibition programs will also pop up in locations across Central Arkansas and beyond, including the continuation of the popular Delta and Young Arkansas Artists exhibitions. Works from the collection will also travel to other institutions across the country and across Arkansas, in addition to select objects from the contemporary craft collection remaining on view at 15 Central Arkansas Library System locations.

More details about additional programs and partnerships locally and across the state will continue to be announced throughout 2019.

18 Cultural Events from 2018 – Todd Herman departs Arkansas Arts Center

On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, Dr. Todd Herman, announced to Arkansas Arts Center staff that he would be leaving to take a position in North Carolina.  His last day at Little Rock’s art museum was August 10.

Herman, who joined the AAC in 2011, succeeded Nan Plummer as director, who served from 2002 to 2010. She was preceded by longtime director Townsend Wolfe, who led the AAC from 1968 to 2002. Between 1961 and 1968, the Arts Center had a revolving door of directors and acting directors including Muriel Christison (1961), Alan Symonds (1962-1964), William H. Turner (1964-1965), and Louis Ismay (1966-1968).  William Steadman (1958) and George Ware (1959-1960) lead the museum as it transitioned from the Museum of Fine Arts to the Arkansas Arts Center.  Nettie L. Robinson was the director of the original Museum of Fine Arts from its opening in 1937 until her retirement in 1957.

T. Laine Harber, the Arts Center’s Chief Operations Officer/Chief Financial Officer will be Interim Director while a search is conducted for Herman’s replacement.

Work continues on the planning for the expansion and enhancement of the Arts Center which is currently slated to be completed in 2022.

Expanded partnership between Arkansas Arts Center and Central Arkansas Library System announced

The Arkansas Arts Center and the Central Arkansas Library System are launching a long-term partnership to build valuable creative connections between two Central Arkansas cultural institutions.

This collaboration with CALS is the first of several community partnerships the Arkansas Arts Center will offer as its building in MacArthur Park undergoes a transformational renovation. Beginning in the fall of 2019, arts patrons will find Arts Center collection works and programming at a variety of locations around Arkansas, including 15 Central Arkansas Library System locations. More details about additional partnerships will continue to be announced throughout 2019.

“CALS has always served as a partner and host for our regional arts institutions. Our many branch locations provide a perfect venue to share with local neighborhoods the cultural richness of the Arkansas Arts Center’s collection,” CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter said. “We are also delighted to enable the continuation of the Arts Center’s educational programs during their construction process, thanks to our many community classrooms and meeting spaces. It is our pleasure to collaborate with the Arts Center to support our arts community, and we know CALS patrons will greatly enjoy these classes as an addition to our regular library programming.”

Beginning in early 2019, patrons of CALS branches will see works from the Arkansas Arts Center’s extensive collection of contemporary craft objects as they browse their neighborhood libraries. Nearly 10% of the craft collection’s 1,500 works will be on view at all 14 CALS branches, as well as the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, with each installation carefully curated to the environment, history and mission of each individual library branch. These installations in communities across Central Arkansas will show off the incredible diversity of the Arts Center’s collection of contemporary craft objects.

Beginning in September 2019, CALS patrons will also find some of their favorite Arts Center youth and adult programs at their neighborhood libraries, with programs carefully placed to fit the communities already present at each library.

“Partnerships within our community have always been critical to our mission,” said Laine Harber, Arkansas Arts Center interim executive director. “As we look toward the future, we want to continue to build the Arts Center into a true community gathering space. During our construction process, we look forward to building community with our many partners across the state.”

Todd Herman departs Arkansas Arts Center

On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, Dr. Todd Herman, announced to Arkansas Arts Center staff that he will be leaving to take a position in North Carolina.  His last day at Little Rock’s art museum will be August 10.

Formal announcement of the new position is expected to be made on Thursday, but local media broke the story on Wednesday evening.

Herman, who joined the AAC in 2011, succeeded Nan Plummer as director, who served from 2002 to 2010. She was preceded by longtime director Townsend Wolfe, who led the AAC from 1968 to 2002. Between 1961 and 1968, the Arts Center had a revolving door of directors and acting directors including Muriel Christison (1961), Alan Symonds (1962-1964), William H. Turner (1964-1965), and Louis Ismay (1966-1968).  William Steadman (1958) and George Ware (1959-1960) lead the museum as it transitioned from the Museum of Fine Arts to the Arkansas Arts Center.  Nettie L. Robinson was the director of the original Museum of Fine Arts from its opening in 1937 until her retirement in 1957.

T. Laine Harber, the Arts Center’s Chief Operations Officer/Chief Financial Officer will be Interim Director while a search is conducted for Herman’s replacement.

Work continues on the planning for the expansion and enhancement of the Arts Center which is currently slated to be completed in 2022.

2015 In Memoriam – Tillie “Mumaw” Anderton

1515 Mumaw

In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.

She was never a resident of Little Rock, but for the last several of her 101 years, Tillie Anderton was a frequent visitor.  She would often be found at Arkansas Arts Center events or attending the Arkansas Repertory Theatre while in town to visit her grandson Laine Harber.

Mumaw, as she was known to everyone, enjoyed seeing the art, attending a Children’s Theatre performance, or taking part in the crafts. She also enjoyed the chance to socialize with her many well-wishers who stopped by to chat with her.  As longtime Arts Center supporter Jeane Hamilton once remarked, “I want to be her when I grow up!”

Mumaw loved to learn, so she viewed a trip to the Arts Center or the Rep as a chance to learn more – both from experiencing the art and from visiting with people.

On the occasion of her 100th birthday, “Tillie ‘Mumaw’ Anderton Day” was declared in Little Rock in recognition of her contributions as a participant in, and ambassador of, Little Rock’s cultural life.