On Armed Forces Day, visit the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Today is Armed Forces Day.

The third Saturday of May is designated each year as a day to celebrate the men and women who serve in the various branches of the United States armed forces.

On Saturday, May 19, 2001 (which was Armed Services Day that year), the City of Little Rock opened the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.  Tomorrow, the museum celebrates its 18th birthday.

Though the museum is only 18 years old, the building in which it is located, is 171 years old.  Last year, the building was closed for several months as it received a much needed refurbishment.

Today, the Museum’s exhibits include

  • Vietnam, America’s Conflict
  • Fiction and Fantasy
  • From Turbulence to Tranquility: The Little Rock Arsenal
  • Capital In Crisis: Little Rock and the Civil War
  • Alger Cadet Gun
  • Camden Expedition
  • David Owen Dodd Story
  • First Call: American Posters of World War I
  • The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep: The Jeep During World War II
  • Through the Camera’s Eye: The Allison Collection of World War II Photographs
  • Conflict and Crisis: The MacArthur-Truman Controversy
  • Duty, Honor and Country: General Douglas MacArthur
  • By the President in the Name of Congress: Arkansas’s Medal of Honor Recipients

Visitors to MacArthur Park today can also interact with the various outdoor memorials and monuments which pay tribute to various phases of Arkansas’ military history.

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Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale this weekend!

Little Rock residents and visitors alike will have the opportunity to see and purchase works by leading sculptors when the Sculpture at the River Market Invitational Show and Sale takes place at the River Market pavilions on May 4 & 5

Over 700 sculptures will be on display in the River Market pavilions and in the adjacent area of Riverfront Park on these two days. The works featured will include all types of media, style, subject matter, and size.

The 2019 sculptors include: Lorri Acott, Serena Bates, Terry Bean, Jeff Best, Kelly Borsheim, Craig Campbell, Kathleen Caricof, Leslie Daly, Darrell Davis, Jane DeDecker, Michael Dunton, Theresa Dyer, Clay Enoch, Denny Haskew, Felipe Jimenz, James Keller, Edwad LaBonne, Jackie Mild Lau, and Bryan Massey.

Other participating sculptors are: Darren Miller, Ken Newman, Joe Norman, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Ed Pennebaker, John Powell, Timothy Roundy, Emelene Russell, Wayne Salge, Ryan T. Schmidt, Adam Schultz, Gene Sparling, Charles Strain, Bilhenry Walker, Michael Warrick, Basil Barrington Watson, CT Whitehouse, Russell Whiting, and David Zahn.

Sculpture at the River Market will be open in the River Market pavilions from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, May 4, and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

On Saturday, Alex Palmer from the Museum of Discovery will offer activities for children at 12 noon and 2pm adjacent to the River Market pavilions.

On Sunday, two food trucks will be on site with food available for sculpture guests to purchase.  Nach’yo Nachos and Rock-Brick Oven Pizza will both be present from 11am until 2pm.

On Friday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m., a Preview Party will kick off the weekend.  With food provided by Copper Grill, beverages provided by Southern Glazer’s and Stella Artois, it will be a festive atmosphere offering guests the first chance to purchase sculptures as well as visit with the sculptors.

Also that night, guests to the Preview Party will be able to vote for their favorite sculpture in the 2019 Public Monument Competition.  The winner, which will be announced on Sunday, May 5, at 3:00 p.m., will be placed adjacent to City Hall at the corner of Markham Street and Broadway Street in 2020.  The seven semifinalists are: Theresa Dyer, Clay Enoch, Joe Norman, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Ryan T. Schmidt, Charles Strain and Basil Barrington Watson.

Start of Little Rock’s park system with land swap to create Arsenal Park

April 23, 1892, marked the beginning of the City of Little Rock’s public park sLR City Parkystem.  On that date, the City officially took possession of land which would become what is now known as MacArthur Park.

The park land had originally served as a horse racetrack in the early days of Little Rock.  By 1836, the federal government purchased the land for construction of a military arsenal.  The flagship building, the Arsenal Tower building, is the only remaining structure from that time period.

The land served as a military outpost until 1892.  On April 23, 1892, a land swap took place where in the City of Little Rock was given the property with the stipulation that it would be “forever exclusively devoted to the uses and purposes of a public park.” (Never mind that the federal government took part of the land back for the construction of the Wilbur Mills Freeway.)  In return for giving the City this land, the federal government took possession of land on the north side of the Arkansas River (then part of Little Rock) – that 1,000 acres became Fort Logan H. Roots.

After clearing most of the buildings from the land and preparing it for recreation, the park opened on July 4, 1893, with the name Arsenal Park. Since it was the City’s first and only park at the time, residents started referring to it as City Park. In time, the designation Arsenal Park fell from use.  In fact, it is referred to as City Park exclusively and officially in City documents throughout the first 42 years of the 20th Century.

The City Council’s action to name it MacArthur Park in March 1942, was accompanied by petitions encouraging the action which were submitted by the Arkansas Authors and Composers Society, the Arkansas Engineers Club and the Pulaski County Republican Central Committee.

City records do not indicate if anyone registered opposition to the name change. It would be another decade before General MacArthur would return to the site of his birth, a place he had not visited since his infancy.

CALS Receives $30,000 Grant to Increase Access to Little Rock Summer Healthy Foods Feeding Program Through Transit

No photo description available.Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has received a $30,000 grant to increase access to healthy foods and parks and recreation sites. The gift is part of a $1.5 million grant NRPA received from the Walmart Foundation to increase access to healthy foods in park and recreation agencies across the country.

The grant supports the City of Little Rock’s Be Mighty Little Rock afterschool and summer meal program by funding a new venture with CALS, Be Mighty Little Rock and Rock Region METRO to increase access to meal sites and activity centers by providing free bus passes to children and youths 18 and younger. The program, called Be Mighty METRO, allows participants access to free meals and activities provided in coordination with the Be Mighty Little Rock campaign. The passes provide unlimited rides on any Rock Region METRO route June 1 through July 31. CALS will receive additional support for meals provided through USDA after-school and summer meal programs, as well as nutritional literacy materials to help ensure life-long healthy habits for Little Rock’s youths.

“The Access to Healthy Foods grant is a perfect way for CALS to expand its existing afterschool and summer programming for youths in our area,” said Nate Coulter, CALS executive director. “We are a natural partner to the local school districts and Rock Region METRO, and in administering this grant, we are bringing these groups together to meet an existing community need. We hope to reach as many as 1,000 children and teens visiting our local libraries this summer.”

The Be Mighty METRO pass, which is good for June 1-July 31, is only available to participants age 18 and younger. Riders 11 and younger will be provided a pass for themselves and a guardian. Passes may be reserved starting May 13 at bemightylittlerock.org and picked up at any CALS branch. The pass reservation form and list of available meal sites can be found at www.bemightylittlerock.org.

“Lack of transportation is often an insurmountable barrier for many children and youths who need healthy food,” said Charles D. Frazier, METRO executive director. “Most Be Mighty Little Rock meal sites are located along a METRO fixed route, and we are happy to participate in this program that enables our community’s youths to access healthy meals and safe places to spend time during the day.”

In Little Rock, libraries have been one of the largest providers of healthy meals to children in low-income communities through the USDA child nutrition programs, working to address hunger, provide nutrition education, and keep youths safe and engaged during out-of-school times. Building upon this strong foundation and the existing strengths of local agencies, NRPA seeks to expand the role and capacity of local parks and recreation to improve food access across diverse communities and generations by piloting and evaluating transportation and infrastructure barriers in communities. Little Rock’s Be Mighty METRO pilot leverages existing resources and assets, builds partnerships, and utilizes innovative systems to transport youths. Partners involved include CALS, Rock Region METRO, the City of Little Rock, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and the Little Rock School District.

According to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, 1 in 6 youths across the country struggle with hunger every day. During the school year, more than 21 million low-income children receive free or reduced meals to help them meet their daily nutrition needs, but only 3 million of these youths receive these meals during the summer. During summer months, these youths may not have access to quality and healthy food to help them grow — making the Be Mighty Little Rock program partners’ work during out-of-school times that much more critical.

“NRPA is thankful for our partnership with the Walmart Foundation to support local park and recreation agencies who make health and wellness a priority in the communities they serve — especially during out-of-school time,” said Kellie May, NRPA vice president of programs. “Parks and recreation are proving their critical role in the health of their communities and we can’t wait to see the impact this year’s grants will have on fostering life-long healthy habits in children across the country.”

To learn more about Be Mighty Little Rock, visit www.bemightylittlerock.org. To learn more about NRPA’s Commit to Health campaign, which supports the implementation and evaluation of Healthy Eating Physical Activity standards in park and recreation sites across the country, visit www.nrpa.org/committohealth.

About Be Mighty Little Rock
Be Mighty Little Rock is a citywide campaign to connect children and teens 18 and younger to free meals. Summer meals will be offered at schools, libraries, parks, splash pads, community centers and other sites. Some sites offer breakfast and lunch; others offer dinner or a snack. The campaign is made possible through the CHAMPS grant from the National League of Cities (NLC) and Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Little Rock is one of only six cities to receive the grant. NRPA, NLC, and FRAC work in partnership with the Walmart Foundation.

About the National Recreation and Park Association 
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

LRCVB announces agreement with AWAKENING EVENTS to book and promote First Security Amphitheater in Riverfront Park

Image result for first security amphitheaterThe Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has finalized a Promoter Agreement with AWAKENING EVENTS to provide exclusive rights to book and promote ticketed concerts in the First Security Amphitheater in Riverfront Park downtown.

AWAKENING EVENTS is a nationwide, full service live event company based in Arkansas. They successfully produce over 250 concerts each year. AWAKENING EVENTS has produced concerts at Verizon Arena, Wal-Mart Amphitheater, the First Security Amphitheater, as well as many iconic venues around the country, including Madison Square Garden, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and The Forum in Los Angeles. AWAKENING EVENTS is owned by Arkansas native Dan Fife.

AWAKENING EVENTS is proudly partnering with STARR HILL Presents, owned by Red Light Management’s Coran Capshaw. Red Light Management’s extensive artist management roster ranges from Dave Matthews Band to Chris Stapleton and many others. STARR HILL Presents is an independent concert promotion company based in Charlottesville, Virginia, promoting hundreds of events each year, ranging from small club shows to multi-day festivals. The company operates multiple venues and is a partner in festivals across the country including Bonnaroo, SXSW and Outside Lands.

AWAKENING EVENTS responded to a Request for Qualifications released by the LRCVB in late 2018. Following negotiations, an agreement was finalized and signed on March 11, 2019. The agreement requires a minimum of three “A-Tier” concerts in 2019 and six concerts each year in 2020-2023. A-Tier is defined as “Artists that tour nationally or globally, having the documented ability to sell 2,000 or more tickets.”

In addition, it is the desire of AWAKENING EVENTS & STARR HILL PRESENTS to create an additional 2020 series of free, or very low cost, “Live at Five” type events. Dan Fife, president of AWAKENING EVENTS, stated, “We are excited to get back into the Amp business on the River in Riverfront Park. It is a great venue and we need to start offering regular and diverse concert programming again.”

Gretchen Hall, LRCVB President & CEO said, “I am excited about this new partnership and the quality of entertainment it will provide in Little Rock.”

This exclusive promoter agreement is designed to allow a booking window for the concert season, as well as protecting Little Rock’s long time Amphitheater and Pavilion events and provide the flexibility for community events to continue booking in those venues. LRCVB will maintain the booking and coordination efforts for all non-concert bookings.

A formal press conference to announce the initial season is expected in the next 30 days.

MACARTHUR MUSEUM TO EXPAND HOURS OPEN TO PUBLIC

Effective April 1, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History will expand its hours of operation and remain open until 5 p.m. daily.  The museum was closed for renovations during much of 2018, and reopened to the public last fall.

“The increase in our hours comes exactly one year after the museum closed to undergo a $1.55 million renovation,” says Museum Director Stephan McAteer.  “We are delighted to be open more, allowing local, state, national and international visitors additional opportunities to visit the historic Arsenal Building and exhibits relating our state’s rich military heritage.”

A deciding factor in the decision to expand hours was the hiring of additional staffing.  Reveille Isgrig was hired to assist current staff with school tours, the museum’s reading program, and publicity.  Ms. Isgrig has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from Azusa Pacific University. For 10 years she worked at the UALR Survey Research Center and has extensive experience in maintaining data archives.  As a volunteer with the Mac Park Group, she coordinated “MacArthur 125,” commemorating the anniversary of MacArthur Park’s creation, in conjunction with the museum’s reopening.

New hours for the museum, beginning April 1, will be Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is located at 503 E. 9th St. in downtown Little Rock’s MacArthur Park. The museum is operated under the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Little Rock Look Back: LR Voters Overwhelmingly Support Arts+History

On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, Little Rock overwhelmingly approved the Arts+History initiative which funded expansion and enhancements to the Arkansas Arts Center, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, and MacArthur Park.

There were 7,989 votes cast in the special election.  This was 6.61% of the electorate.  Of those, 6,733 or 84.28% voted for the proposal.

In 2018, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History was closed for several months for a renovation, which was financed by these bonds.  It reopened in September.  The Arkansas Arts Center unveiled plans in February 2018 for its expansion.  It is preparing to start construction later in 2019. As part of that, Arts Center programming will continue in a variety of locations including Central Arkansas Library System branches.