Mayor Stodola sent out the above email missive today urging voters to vote to approve a bond issue that will provide funds to dramatically improve the Arkansas Arts Center, make fixes to the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and enhance MacArthur Park and, indirectly, the surrounding neighborhood.
This is the last day to vote on the MacArthur Park Improvement Bonds; early voting started last Monday. I’ve asked the Pulaski County Clerk for how many votes were cast in early voting, and will update with the answer. UPDATE: The number is 863.
The tax is being collected on hotel rooms; this is not a vote on the tax. It’s a vote on how to spend the tax. Improving the capital city’s major arts facility and showing some love to the military museum, which operates in a National Landmark on a thread thanks to a dedicated director and supporters, is a good thing, both for Little Rock’s cultural atmosphere, its educational opportunities for children and its tribute to veterans.
I’m pretty disgusted with a postcard I received in the mail from the vote campaign’s Committee for Arts and History, which read “Your FOR vote will KEEP THE ARTS CENTER in LITTLE ROCK accredited … .” The highlighted and capitalized words suggest that unless the bond issue passes, Little Rock could lose the Arts Center. That the Arts Center Foundation might pick up the Arts Center’s collection and take it elsewhere. That would be a foul result, given that the city has bent over backwards to pass a hotel tax and ask voters to support a bond issue that would use the tax. NEVERTHELESS, I’m voting for the bond issue, and hope that yes voters will hold the Arts Center’s feet to the fire to be responsive to the public. A little transparency from the AAC Foundation wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
For a fine history of the Arkansas Arts Center and Little Rock’s role in its creation, read