25th Arkansas Business of the Year finalists include cultural institutions

Arkansas Business earlier this week announced the finalists for the 25th Arkansas Business of the Year.  The winners will be announced at a ceremony presented by Centennial Bank and Arkansas Business on Tuesday, February 26 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

As is often the case several of the finalists in the business and business leader categories are supporters of cultural life in their communities.  In addition, two of the finalists in the Non-Profit categories are connected to Little Rock’s cultural scene.

christinalittlejohnChristina Littlejohn is a finalist for Non-Profit Executive of the Year.  Since 2009 she has been Executive Director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Since coming to the ASO, she has not only led it through the current recession, she also worked with the selection of Philip Mann as the Music Director.  Whereas many symphony orchestras are cutting musicians, concerts and series, the ASO has been embarking on new outreach concerts including the new Intimate Neighborhood Concert series..

Prior to joining ASO, she served as Executive Director of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Director of Residencies for the Cleveland Orchestra, and Executive Director of the Mobile Symphony.  She is also a cellist.

The Museum of Discovery is a finalist for Non-Profit of the Year. Established in 1927 as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, the Museum of Discovery is the oldest museum in Little Rock.  It has been housed in a storefront, the third floor of Little Rock City Hall, the Arsenal Tower in MacArthur Park, and since 1998 has called the Museum Center in the River Market its home.

The new facility provided more hands-on, interactive exhibits and programs, and the museum began to focus more intensely on science, technology, engineering and math. In 2003, the museum merged with the Children’s Museum of Arkansas and assumed responsibility for addressing the needs of preschool children. Also in 2003, the museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate.

In 2011, the museum closed for nine months in order to add a new entrance and undergo a total renovation. This project, funded by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, also provided funding for new, interactive science exhibits, completing the museum’s transformation from a collecting museum to a science center.  Nan Selz led the Museum as Executive Director from 2004 through 2012.  Kelley Bass, a former member of the museum’s board, became the Museum’s CEO earlier this month.

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A Double Dozen of Cultural Milestones of 2012

Happy New Year!  Here are a double dozen of the Culture Vulture’s Cultural Milestones from 2012 (in no definitive order but a rough chronilogical order).

Home1 – The year kicked off with the reopening of the Museum of Discovery. In 2011, the museum was gutted and redone from top to bottom. The result is three new galleries with 85 interactive exhibits as well as a high profile streetfront entrance.  A $9.2 million grant from Donald W. Reynolds Foundation provided the primary underwriting for the renovations, which also brought a subtitling of the museum as the Donald W. Reynolds Science Center.

Hupp

2 – Arkansas Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert M. Hupp received two honors in the first quarter of the year.  In February, he was named Arkansas Business Non-Profit Executive of the Year.  The next month Hupp received the Diamond Award from the Arkansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.  Hupp has been at Arkansas Rep since 1999.  He currently serves on the board of the Theatre Communications Group, the national service organization for non-profit theatres.

Landesman

3 – Rocco Landesman, the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, visited Arkansas in March.   While in Little Rock, he participated in a panel discussion with Bob Hupp of the Arkansas Rep, Warwick Sabin of the Oxford American, Joy Pennington of the Arkansas Arts Council and Beth Wiedower of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Landesman, a Tony winning Broadway producer, was named the 10th chair of the NEA in 2009.   He announced his plans to retire later in the year.

4 – Polk Stanley Wilcox architectural firm was awarded the American Architecture Award for its design of the Heifer International Murphy Keller Education Center in March.  It is the third American Architecture Award the firm has won in the last five years. The firm also won for designing the Acxiom Data Center and the Heifer International Headquarters, also in Little Rock. Heifer broke ground in the $7.5 million Keller Education Center in 2007. The building provides a place for visitors, staff, volunteers and the international development community to come together to learn about world hunger and poverty and current solutions to these problems.

Kaiser

5 – Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, presided over the 2012 Arkansas Arts Summit in April at the Clinton Presidential Center.  The programmatic arm of the conference was developed and presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center, and provided practical training for board members and arts administrators. The event was sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council.  Little Rock designer and business owner Kaki Hockersmith, who serves on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the the Kennedy Center, was instrumental in organizing the event.

Rockefeller

6 – May 1 marked the 100th birthday of former Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.  In addition to being a political leader, he was a cultural and philanthropic leader.  Perhaps his most obvious impact was helping to transform the provincial Little Rock Museum of Fine Arts into the first rate Arkansas Arts Center.  He and his family were generous donors of money and art to this effort.  Through the effort of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, many cultural institutions have received funds for programming which has reached into every county and every corner of this state.  For instance, one of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s string quartets is the Rockefeller Quartet.

Sabin

7 – Later in May, Oxford American publisher Warwick Sabin won a primary for the Democratic nomination for District 33 of the Arkansas House of Representatives. He was unopposed in the November election and will take office in January 2013.

8 – As May ended, Riverfest turned 35.  Among the headliners were Boyz II Men, Lynard Skynard, Staind, Third Eye Blind, Joe Walsh, Snoop Dogg, Rodney Block, and Trout Fishing in America.  Since beginning, Riverfest has contributed over $1 million to promote and upgrade parks in Central Arkansas.  Approximately 250,000 festival-goers attended the 2012 event, with an estimated economic impact of $33 million on the community.

oxfordamerican9 – In June, the Oxford American received a $290,000 ArtPlace Grant for its “South on Main” Project.  The space will include a restaurant that will celebrate Southern culinary culture. Accompanying the food will be nightly cultural programming that will feature the best of Southern arts and culture across a variety of formats including literature, music, film, art and drama. The Oxford American will focus on community-oriented programming developed through partnerships with local organizations and institutions.  It is slated to open in the first quarter of 2013.

Selz

10 – Also in June, Nan Selz, who has led the Museum of Discovery since 2004 and revitalized the once-struggling museum announced her intention to retire at the end of 2012.  Since joining the Museum in February 2004, Selz used her leadership to ensure that the Museum has become central Arkansas’s premier math, science and technology center. She has nearly 50 years executive, development and teaching experience having worked in corporate, non-profit and education sectors.  In December, Kelley Bass was named to succeed Selz.

11 – Ann Richards’ Texas a documentary about the colorful former Governor of Texas won the WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at the AFI SilverDocs festival in June.  The brainchild of Keith Patterson and Arkansans Jack Lofton, Susan Altrui, Eric Wilson and Dr. Jordan Cooper, the documentary received a screening at the Paley Center in New York City in October.

12 – The Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost was officially dedicated at the Little Rock Zoo in July. Mayor Mark Stodola and City Manager Bruce Moore were in attendance for the opening remarks and ribbon cutting ceremony. Zoo Director Mike Blakely introduced special guest, Anne Schmidt-Kuentzel, research geneticist and assistant director for animal health and research at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a world-wide non profit dedicated to saving the wild cheetah and its habitat. She thanked the zoo for supporting the cheetahs.  The cheetahs, Zazi and her daughter Maggie, come from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia.

Hodge

13 – Roger D. Hodge, former editor of Harper’s was named as the new editor of the Oxford American magazine.  Mr. Hodge is the author of  The Mendacity of Hope a critique of President Obama published by HarperCollins in 2010, and is currently working on another book focusing on life in the borderlands of West Texas.  A native of Texas, he studied comparative literature at Sewanee in Tennessee, and began his career as a freelance writer in North Carolina.
operainrock14 –  Opera in the Rock launched and hosted its first event – “Opera on the Rocks” out at Wildwood Park for the Arts. Opera in the Rock is focused on returning live opera performances to Little Rock on a regular basis. The company has announced plans for a performance in February at the Clinton Presidential Center.

15 – The Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies launched Arkansas Sounds, a music festival, in September.  The festival featured over twenty events (concerts, lectures and other special programs) over an extended weekend.  Focusing on Arkansas music and musicians both past and present, Arkansas Sounds will also work to get musicians and songwriters involved in local schools, create songwriting workshops for kids and adults, and host related performances and events throughout the state. Arkansas Sounds is the second festival sponsored by the Butler Center. They also produce the Arkansas Literary Festival in the spring.

Mann

16 – Philip Mann, music director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, was honored by the Arkansas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators honored Arkansas communicators in October. He received the IABC/Arkansas 2012 Communicator of the Year, honoring Mann for his innovative communication in creating connections between music and audience. Mann is in his third season as director of the symphony, which has seen audience and artistic growth and financial health under his leadership.

17 – Construction began on the new Arcade Building in Little Rock’s River Market district.  This three story building will be home to the Little Rock Film Festival offices as well as additional space for the Central Arkansas Library System and the Clinton School of Public Service.  One major focus of the building will be the 325-seat theatre auditorium for film and lectures.  A restuarant and office space will also be in the building.  The Arcade Building was designed by architect Rick Redden not long before he died earlier in 2012. A statue of Redden will be placed in front of the building.

Brent, Craig Renaud

18 – Also in October, two of the co-founders of the Little Rock Film Festival – Craig and Brent Renaud received an Edward R. Murrow Award for their work in Haiti for the New York Times.  he Renaud Brothers produced a series of reports for the Times beginning days after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, and followed the story of survivors for more than a year.

Cole

19 – Sericia Cole, who had been serving as interim director of Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, was named the permanent director in November.  Before joining the museum, Cole served as director of minority affairs for Gov. Mike Beebe’s office for two years. Prior to that, she was director of public relations at Philander Smith College.  She has extensive experience in public relations and non-profit work. Since joining the museum in March, she has introduced several new programs and secured a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, D.C.

Worthen

20 – In November, Bill Worthen celebrated 40 years as Director of Historic Arkansas Museum.  When he started at the institution, it was known as the Arkansas Territorial Restoration and took up roughly half a city block.  Under his leadership, the museum has expanded into permanent galleries as well as increased its historic structures and demostrations.  HAM now takes up one whole city block and two partial blocks.  He is the longest serving musem director in Little Rock history.

Matthews

21 – Also in November, Cathie Matthews announced her upcoming retirement from the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  She has led that state agency for fifteen years and is the longest-serving director.  A Little Rock native (and daughter of former LR Mayor Pratt C. Remmel), she has led the department through the opening of two new museums, the renovation of two existing museums and the creation of new programs in the other agencies. Matthews oversees the Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and Old State House Museum.

Belew

22 – Late in November, Arkansan Cody Belew was eliminated from the TV show “The Voice.”  Born and raised on back country roads, Cody Belew grew up singing in rodeo arenas and gospel church houses. Pulling influence from his southern roots, Cody’s voice is a mix of southern rock, R&B, gospel, soul, and a little mountain twang. He’s been on enough stages, and in front of enough county fair crowds to understand what it takes to entertain an audience.  Before moving to Nashville in 2011, he was a fixture on the Little Rock music scene; he still comes back to perform from time to time. His most recent appearance was at Robinson Center Music Hall last weekend.

Stodola

23 – In December, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola together with the Downtown Little Rock Partnership hosted a meeting to discuss plans for “The Creative Corridor – A Main Stree Revitalization.”  The plan was developed by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center working with Marlon Blackwell Architect for Little Rock.  It was a fulfillment of a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant.

photo (7)24 – Plans for upgrading and renovating Robinson Center Music Hall are moving forward.  Following presentations by four firms in November, the Advertising and Promotion Commission narrowed it down to Ennead Architects of New York, partnered with Polk Stanley Wilcox of Little Rock and Witsell Evans Rasco of Little Rock, partnered with LMN of Seattle.  The concept, which was first unveiled in June, could cost around $65 million.  Presentations by the final two firms will be made in January.  Once completed, the renovated Robinson Center will benefit numerous organizations including the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau and Celebrity Attractions.  In related performance space news, First Security Bank made a contribution toward the renovation and reconstruction of the amphitheatre in Riverfront Park.

Bass next CEO of Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery today announced that Kelley Bass will become the next CEO of the Museum.  He will succeed Nan Selz who retires at the end of this year.

Bass, who is currently Assistant Dean for External Affairs at the UALR’s Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. Prior to that he worked at Acxiom, Arkansas Business Publishing Group and newspapers in Arkansas and Missouri.

He has been a member of the Museum’s Board of Directors for the past three years as the facility has undergone an extension renvoation and reinvigoration under Selz’s leadership.  He has also been active in Riverfest and other downtown activities.

The Museum of Discovery was founded in 1927 and is Little Rock’s oldest museum.
The museum was originally accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1993 and was re-accredited in 2001. During the period between its founding and its accreditation, the museum actively collected approximately 14,000 cultural and historical artifacts and numerous species of live animals and insects.

Selz and Bass

In 1998, the museum moved to the River Market and in 2003 became a Smithsonian Affiliate.  In 2011, the museum closed for nine months in order to add a new entrance and undergo a total renovation. This project, funded by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, also provided funding for new, interactive science exhibits, completing the museum’s transformation from a collecting museum to a science center.

The Mission of the Museum of Discovery: To ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

Museum of Discovery Executive Director Nan Selz to retire at end of 2012

Nan Selz, who has led the Museum of Discovery since 2004 and revitalized the once-struggling museum announced her intention to retire at the end of 2012.

Since joining the Museum in February 2004, Selz has used her leadership to ensure that the Museum has become central Arkansas’s premier math, science and technology center. She has nearly 50 years executive, development and teaching experience having worked in corporate, non-profit and education sectors.

“Before I ever thought about working here, I visited the Museum of Discovery with my oldest grandson, Josh. It was then, and remains, a wonderful place for families to play and learn together. I will miss the energy and enthusiasm of our wonderful staff and board, but I am leaving this place in great hands! And I will, of course, be back as a visitor quite often,” said Selz.

Selz has volunteered for numerous organizations and served on many boards for more than 40 years. She plans to continue her community involvement, and enjoy time with her family.

The Museum’s board of trustees has formed a search committee and is conducting a search for Selz’s successor.

Established in 1927, the Museum of Discovery is Little Rock’s oldest museum. Following its closing and a 10-month renovation, the Museum of Discovery re-opened in January 2012. It is central Arkansas’s leading informal educational resource in areas of science, technology, math and engineering. The Museum’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

Museum of Discovery Summer Fun Extravaganza

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As people begin to start the summer season, the Museum of Discovery wraps up its Summer Fun Extravaganza event Today. Visitors will learn the science behind some of the most popular summertime activities.

As museum-goers arrive, they will be greeted by an extensive shell and coral display. The experience will continue in each of the three science galleries as specific exhibits will be featured to show how they relate to the summer season. Discovery cart demonstrations will be presented throughout the day relating to the ocean, like why one can hear its waves in a seashell. Also, sunblock protection will be emphasized as ultraviolet rays and their harmful effects will be examined.

Additional programming will focus on the science of air pressure as a pvc pipe ball launcher will serve as a make-shift water squirter, and a marshmallow shooter. There will even be a few surprises with bubbles.

“Summer is in a word – fun!” smiled Nan Selz, executive director for the museum. “Whether it’s boating on one of Arkansas’s beautiful lakes, spending time at the pool, or heading to the beach, we like to soak up as much fun as we can in a few short months. But our favorite past times can teach us a lot about science,” she added.

Discovery Cart Demonstrations:
10 am; 12 pm; 2 pm; 4 pm

Discovery Court Programs:
11 am; 1 pm; 3 pm

On Sunday at the museum, Dads will get in free for Father’s Day.

Museum of Discovery offers free admission to active military

Earlier this month, the Museum of Discovery announced the launch of Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,500 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from May 29 through Labor Day 2012. Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. The complete list of participating museums is available at www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

“As a Blue Star Museum member, we have the opportunity to honor our active military families this summer with free admission,” said Nan Selz, executive director for the Museum of Discovery. “We welcome many military personnel and their children to our science center each year. In an effort to show our gratitude for their service, we’re able to offer them a unique and fun family experience.” NOTE: While the museum will be closed May 25-28 for Riverfest, its recognition program will begin Tuesday, May 29 and run through Labor Day, September 3.

“Through Blue Star Museums, the arts community is extending a special invitation to military families to enjoy over 1,500 museums this summer,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “This is both an opportunity to thank military families for their service and sacrifice, as well as a chance to create connections between museums and these families that will continue throughout the year. Especially for families with limited time together, those on a limited budget, and ones that have to relocate frequently, Blue Star Museums offers an opportunity to enjoy one another and become more fully integrated into a community.”

“As we enter the third consecutive year of the Blue Star Museums program, we are happy provide an opportunity for our nation’s service members and their families to connect with our national treasures,” said Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet. “Through this distinctive collaboration between Blue Star Families, the National Endowment for the Arts and more than 1,500 museums across the United States, military families have an unparalleled opportunity to visit some of the country’s finest museums for free.”

This year, more than 1,500 (and counting) museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative, including more than 300 new museums this year. Museums are welcome to join Blue Star Museums throughout the summer. The effort to recruit museums has involved the partnership efforts of the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers. This year’s Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers, and 70 children’s museums. Among this year’s new participants are the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in Richmond, Virginia, the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, NM, the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland, Ohio, the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco, California, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, and the World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

About Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,500 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 28, 2012 through Labor Day, September 3, 2012. The free admission program is available to active-duty military and their family members (military ID holder and up to five family members). Active duty military include Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and active duty National Guard and active duty Reserve members. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly. To find out which museums are participating, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. The site includes a list of participating museums and a map to help with visit planning. Museums that wish to participate in Blue Star Museums may contact bluestarmuseums@arts.gov, or Wendy Clark at 202-682-5451.

 

About the Museum of Discovery

Established in 1927, the Museum of Discovery is Little Rock’s oldest museum. Following its closing and a 10-month renovation, the Museum of Discovery re-opened in January 2012. It is central Arkansas’s leading informal educational resource in areas of science, technology, math and engineering. The museum’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

13th Annual Dino Dash this weekend

This Saturday, the 13th annual Museum of Discovery Dino Dash & Discovery Fest, will take place in Little Rock’s River Market District. Dino Dash is a 5K walk/run for ages 5 years and older, and a 1K Family Fun Run for all ages. All proceeds benefit the Museum of Discovery’s many educational programs.

Dino Dash participants can register online at www.museumofdiscovery.org . Fees are $25/individual or $20/team member until May 18, and $30 on race day. Race registration includes a fully supported race with police coverage and a safe route, a 2012 Dino Dash t-shirt and goody bag (while supplies last), and free admission to the Museum on race day, a street festival with games, entertainment, exhibits and refreshments. The 5K begins at 8:00 a.m. and the1K begins at 9:00 a.m. Both races begin and end in the River Market District near the Museum of Discovery at 3rd and Sherman. Prizes are awarded to top three finishers in 5K age groups and all 1K participants age 1-10 receive a medal and a dinosaur prize.

“We’re looking forward to showing off the museum this year, since we were closed in 2011. It will allow Dino Dash participants the opportunity to visit our newly renovated science center,” said Nan Selz, executive director for the museum.

For those who don’t race, the museum’s Discovery Fest is free and open to the public. It will be held from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. in front of the museum, and will feature hands-on science activities, refreshments and entertainment.

Also returning are the prizes, which will be awarded to the top 3 finishers in each 5K division courtesy in part by Go! Running. Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 boy and the top 3 girl finishers in the 1K courtesy of the Sachar Family. All 1K finishers ages 1-10 will receive a medal and dino prize. The largest school team wins a pizza party at the Museum. The largest non-school team wins a free Museum rental (for up to 2 hours). Prizes will be awarded to the top two pushers in the three-wheeled stroller division. Stroller Division entrants are not eligible for division awards.

2012 Dino Dash sponsors include: Bancorp South; Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield; Arkansas Children’s Hospital; Janet and Glenn Davis; Melody and Chris Piazza; Legacy Termite and Pest Control; Arkansas Pediatric Clinic; First Security Bank; Go! Running; Little Rock Athletic Club; Allied Technologies Group LLC; New York Life/Chad and Missy Franks; Notre Dame Alumni Group; the Shue Family; the Sachar Family; Premier Refreshment Services; Crich Design House; Custom XM; and Coca-Cola.

Established in 1927, the Museum of Discovery is Little Rock’s oldest museum. Following its 2011 closing and a 10-month renovation, the Museum of Discovery re-opened in January 2012. It is central Arkansas’s leading informal educational resource in areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The museum’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.