First Arkansas Arts Advocacy Day

On Wednesday, November 7 at the Arkansas State Capitol, Arkansans for the Arts and the new Arkansas General Assembly Legislative Arts Caucus will be participating in the first Arkansas Arts Advocacy Day.

The day starts from 9am to 11am with sessions on Creative Economy 101 (Dr. Lenore Shoults of the Arts & Science Center for SE Arkansas), Arts Education Advocacy (Steve Holder, Vice President of Arkansans for the Arts), and Arts Funding Opportunities 101 (Dr. Gayle Seymour of the University of Central Arkansas).

From 11am to 11:30am, there will be a Creative Economy Networking Business Exchange.

From 11:30am to 12:00pm, the Legislative Arts Caucus will be introduced.  The inaugural members of the caucus come from each of the Arkansas Arts Council’s eight districts. The members are: Senators Ron Caldwell, Eddie Cheatham, Breanne Davis, Joyce Elliott, Scott Flippo, Missy Thomas Irvin, Matt Pitsch, and Larry Teague. The House members are Representatives Sarah Capp, Carol Dalby, Janna Della Rosa, Deborah Ferguson, Vivian Flowers, Michael John Gray, Monte Hodges, Reginald Murdock, and Les Warren.

In addition to the sessions, there will be an Arts Talent Showcase.  On the front steps of the Capitol building the following groups will perform:

  • Conway Junior High Choir – 9am
  • Dover High School Jazz Ensemble – 9:30am
  • Earle High School Band – 10:00am
  • Alma Intermediate School Choir I – 10:30am
  • Alma Intermediate School Choir II – 11:00am
  • (Break for Legislative Caucus introduction at 11:30am)
  • Conway High School Chamber Orchestra – 12:00pm
  • Hot Springs High School Dance Troupe – 12:30pm
  • LRSD Washington Elementary Dynamic Drummers – 1:00pm

In the rotunda of the Capitol building the following groups will perform:

  • Jacksonville Lester Elementary Choir – 9am
  • Searcy Community Youth Choir – 9:15am
  • LRSD Parkview Dance Troupe – 9:30am
  • (Break at 9:45am)
  • Dover Schools Musical Theatre – 10:00am
  • Walnut Ridge High School Choir – 10:15am
  • Ashdown High School Drama Department – 10:30am
  • Hamburg Middle School – 10:45am
  • Lakeside Middle School Girls Choir – 11:00am
  • (Break for Legislative Caucus introduction at 11:30am)
  • Russellfille High School Thespians – 12:00pm
  • Van Buren High School – 12:15pm
  • (Break at 12:30pm)
  • Hot Springs High School Choir – 12:45pm
  • Morrilton High School Show Choir – 1:00pm
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Black History Month – Art Porter, Jr. and Robinson Center

bhm art jr.Like his father, Art Porter Jr. is recognized with a space named in his memory in the new Robinson Center.

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Jr. was born in Little Rock on August 3, 1961. Porter began his music career under the tutelage of his father, legendary jazz musician, Arthur Porter, Sr. who surrounded him with everything musical. He performed proficiently on drums, saxophone and piano. He was classically trained but his performances ranged across jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, and ballads.

During high school, under the supervision of Sterling Ingram, private teacher and band director at Parkview High School, Art Jr. was selected to be a member of the Arkansas All-State Band for three consecutive years.  At age 16, he was awarded the “Most Talented Young Jazz Artist in America” by the National Association for Jazz Education.

During Porter’s youth, his playing while underage in venues where liquor was sold proved controversial. Bill Clinton, then attorney general, established a framework for the legislature that would allow minors to work in such venues with parental supervision. Act 321 known as The “Art Porter Bill” became Arkansas law.

Porter graduated from Northeastern University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1986 with a BA degree in music education and performance.

Art burst on the music scene with his debut album, Pocket City (1992), followed by Straight to the Point (1993). In 1994, his third album, Undercover, placed Porter solidly on the “wave” radio charts with R&B artists as well as “cool jazz” artists. During this same year, he performed at Carnegie Hall for the Polygram Anniversary Celebration. His final album, Lay Your Hands on Me (1996), contained the radio favorite “Lake Shore Drive.”

Porter traveled the world with performances but no matter where his music would carry him, he always returned to his beloved hometown of Little Rock. He conducted workshops for music students at his alma maters, Dunbar Magnet Junior High School and Parkview Arts and Science Magnet School. Porter died on November 23, 1996, in a boating accident in Thailand. He had just completed a performance at the Thailand International Golden Jubilee Jazz Festival commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign.  In 2013, he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

Black History Month – Art Porter Sr. and Robinson Center

bhm art srArthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.  One of the new event spaces in the Robinson Conference Center is named in his memory.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954. The next year, he married Thelma Pauline Minton. Following his marriage, he pursued graduate study at the University of Illinois, University of Texas and Henderson State University.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

RobinsoNovember: Art Porter Jr.

bhm art jr.Like his father, Art Porter Jr. is recognized with a space named in his memory in the new Robinson Center.  Today marks the 20th anniversary of his tragic death.

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Jr. was born in Little Rock on August 3, 1961. Porter began his music career under the tutelage of his father, legendary jazz musician, Arthur Porter, Sr. who surrounded him with everything musical. He performed proficiently on drums, saxophone and piano. He was classically trained but his performances ranged across jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, and ballads.

During high school, under the supervision of Sterling Ingram, private teacher and band director at Parkview High School, Art Jr. was selected to be a member of the Arkansas All-State Band for three consecutive years.  At age 16, he was awarded the “Most Talented Young Jazz Artist in America” by the National Association for Jazz Education.

During Porter’s youth, his playing while underage in venues where liquor was sold proved controversial. Bill Clinton, then attorney general, established a framework for the legislature that would allow minors to work in such venues with parental supervision. Act 321 known as The “Art Porter Bill” became Arkansas law.

Porter graduated from Northeastern University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1986 with a BA degree in music education and performance.

Art burst on the music scene with his debut album, Pocket City (1992), followed by Straight to the Point (1993). In 1994, his third album, Undercover, placed Porter solidly on the “wave” radio charts with R&B artists as well as “cool jazz” artists. During this same year, he performed at Carnegie Hall for the Polygram Anniversary Celebration. His final album, Lay Your Hands on Me (1996), contained the radio favorite “Lake Shore Drive.”

Porter traveled the world with performances but no matter where his music would carry him, he always returned to his beloved hometown of Little Rock. He conducted workshops for music students at his alma maters, Dunbar Magnet Junior High School and Parkview Arts and Science Magnet School. Porter died on November 23, 1996, in a boating accident in Thailand. He had just completed a performance at the Thailand International Golden Jubilee Jazz Festival commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign.  In 2013, he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

Turkey Day Football in LR – Catholic High takes on NLR from 1958 to 1978

cath-nlrhs-grid-1971Following the demise of their Turkey Day rivalry with Little Rock High School, North Little Rock set their Thanksgiving sights on Little Rock Catholic.  In 1958, they started a 21-year tradition of meeting on the fourth Thursday in November.  (Previously Cathlolic had not been in a regular Thanksgiving rivalry. In fact, they sometimes did not even play on that day.)

The 1958 game, held at Wildcat Stadium, started where NLR’s previous Thanksgiving series had left off. A Little Rock team, now the Rockets of Catholic High, achieved a lopsided win over the NLR Wildcats.  The final score was 26-0, in favor of Catholic.

The next several years saw close games. Sometimes Catholic would win, other times NLR was the victor.  In 1960, Catholic lost the game, but won the conference championship (which was tantamount to a state championship at the time) due to results of other games.  In 1965, NLR won the game AND the conference/state championship.

From 1966 to 1969, NLR ran up a string of convincing victories over Catholic High.  This streak ended in 1970.  That year, NLR had been ranked number 1 heading into the game.  They lost the game to Catholic by a score of 21 to 16.  This also marked the first meeting of the teams to take place at the Catholic home field of War Memorial Stadium.  All previous meetings had been at NLR’s Wildcat Stadium.

Starting in 1970, they alternated hosting the game at their respective home stadium.  In 1971, Catholic again won the game and a state championship. The following year, NLR won both the game and a championship.  By that time, the northside school bore the name Ole Main to distinguish it from the new NLR high school: Northeast.  The 1972 game would be the final time that the game between the Rockets and Wildcats had championship implications.

From 1973 through 1978, Catholic and NLR alternated winning the game with the home team coming out on top.  Due to conference realignment, Catholic High dropped from AAAAA to AAAA starting with the 1979 football season. With that, they no longer played NLR on Thanksgiving Day.

Though in 1970 NLR had acquired its own cross-town rival with the opening of NLR Northeast, the creation of an all-NLR Thanksgiving Day tradition was never started. Likewise, Catholic did not start playing the new Little Rock high school, Parkview, on Turkey Day. Both would have probably created stronger Thanksgiving Day rivalries, but by this time, the Arkansas Activities Association was trying to discourage the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving.  Having a game that late in the season interfered with postseason playoffs.  The AAA had actually tried to dissuade teams from playing on the holiday as early as 1961, but were rebuffed by the larger schools who saw no need to give up the tradition.

In 1958, there were at least 23 high school football games played throughout the state on Thanksgiving.  By 1965, that number had shrunk to 13. In 1970, there were only two games: Hall v. Central and NLR v. Catholic.

The final tally of Thanksgiving meetings between NLR and Catholic was NLR 12 wins, Catholic 8 wins and one tie.  Catholic twice shut out NLR, and the Wildcats blanked the Rockets three times.  The northside team scored 267 points over 21 years, while the southsiders earned 223 points.

 

Year NLR Catholic
1958 0 26
1959 6 0
1960 20 14
1961 14 7
1962 7 14
1963 0 14
1964 6 6
1965 14 7
1966 33 0
1967 19 7
1968 40 13
1969 21 12
1970 16 21
1971 6 21
1972 7 6
1973 25 7
1974 3 8
1975 9 6
1976 7 14
1977 7 0
1978 7 20

RobinsoNovember: Art Porter Sr.

bhm art srAs part of the new Robinson Center, nine Little Rockians (Little Rockers?) have been enshrined by having spaces in the building named after them.  One of those is Art Porter Sr.

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954. The next year, he married Thelma Pauline Minton. Following his marriage, he pursued graduate study at the University of Illinois, University of Texas and Henderson State University.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

Turkey Day Football in LR – An Overview

thanks-grid-lrc-lrh102 years ago, Little Rock High School (then located on Scott Street) kicked off a 69-year tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving Day.  (Though the date of Thanksgiving floats anywhere from the 22nd to the 28th, Thanksgiving Day 1914 was on November 26.)

From 1914 until 1933, the Little Rock High School Tigers played a variety of different schools.  Then from 1934 until 1957, they played North Little Rock. From 1958 until 1982, the Little Rock Central Tigers took on the Warriors of Little Rock Hall.

Thanksgiving Day football was a tradition not just for high schools in Little Rock but also all levels throughout the state and country.  The Friday after Thanksgiving, newspapers carried stories and scores for professional, college and high school football.  It was probably the only day of the year to see all three levels of football covered in the paper, and often high school games received the most ink.  This mix of football continued for decades.  In 1969, there were four football games played in Pulaski County on Thanksgiving Day: Little Rock Hall vs. Little Rock Central, Little Rock Catholic vs. North Little Rock, Horace Mann vs. Scipio Jones, and the Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas Tech.

By the 1970s, both high school and college football games on Thanksgiving were on the wane.  While college games on Turkey Day have regained some popularity, they are nowhere near approaching the level they once had.  High school football on Thanksgiving disappeared in Arkansas following the 1982 game between Hall and Central.  That rivalry had been the final series on Turkey Day to still be played.

While they lasted, Thanksgiving Day high school football games were civic focal points. They were about bragging rights.  For students who had grown up attending the games, the chance to play or cheer in a Turkey Day classic was a rite of passage.  Alumni home from college or visiting the family for Thanksgiving would descend on the stadium ensuring the largest attendance of the season.

High school football on Thanksgiving Day in Little Rock tells the tale of not just football; it reflects changes in the city and society.  What started out as two small high schools from neighboring cities changed as both schools grew. The addition of a second Little Rock high school reflected the city’s growth.  (Indeed the 1954 Little Rock High School yearbook, in discussing the school’s new designation as Central High, mentions vaguely that the second high school would be built at some yet to be determined location in “west” Little Rock.)

The presence of segregated high schools in separate but unequal football rivalries (lasting nearly two decades after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision) is an indictment of an unjust parallel education system.  As Little Rock continued to grow and diversify, the two high schools playing on Thanksgiving were no longer always the predominant schools in football – or other activities.  With state championships once again on the line, the last few years of the Hall and Central Thanksgiving rivalry were, in a way, a return to the halcyon days of the early faceoffs (though this time, thankfully, with fully integrated teams). In addition to trading the top spots in football, the two schools were piling accolades. In fact, all three Little Rock public high schools had achieved a stasis that inadvertently rotated areas of excellence academically, athletically and artistically fairly equally among the three.

There were undercurrents at work that hinted at future instabilities to come.  Indeed by 1982, the same year of the final game, Little Rock had filed suit against the North Little Rock and the Pulaski County Special School Districts claiming the schools in those neighboring districts were siphoning off white students from the Little Rock schools. The ensuing realignment of schools and districts would probably have brought an end to Central vs. Hall games even if athletic reclassification had not.

Central is now much larger than Hall, Parkview is a magnet school, two formerly county high schools (and several elementary schools and junior highs) were brought into the LR school district in the late 1980s.  Where once the Little Rock high schools were roughly equal in enrollment, they now are so varied they play in three different classifications.

It is up to the alternative historians to envision what continued Turkey Day classics would have looked like after 1982. Little Rock has grown and diversified. There are six public high schools and five private high schools playing football within the Little Rock city limits each season. With all these competing interests it is unlikely to envision the same citywide level of interest in one football game.

But back in the day…