The public should get its first view of what the expanded Arkansas Arts Center will look like by the end of February, Director Todd Herman told the Arts Center’s board of trustees today.

The Arts Center was to have revealed conceptual drawings by Chicago architectural firm Studio Gang Oct. 16. It announced the reveal on slick oversized postcards of an image of Herman surrounded by children on the lobby steps mailed to members. But the Friday before the Monday event, Herman sent an email to members saying the event had been canceled and would be rescheduled.

Today, Herman told the board that the construction budget will be increased — he declined to say how much — to build the sort of Arts Center the public wants and expects.

Apparently, Studio Gang, working within the $46 million original budget, could make the major fixes the Arts Center needs, but the improvements would have been invisible — necessities like new HVAC, lighting, etc. — and the look of the Arts Center would have disappointed. So Herman and Arts Center Foundation members — the foundation is raising the private dollars — decided to work with Studio Main to see what more money could buy.


So how is the fundraising going? “I’m cautiously optimistic,” Herman told the board. “I feel good about it. … It’s a tremendous thing for this community.

Herman said the Arts Center has also signed a contract with Studio Gang that sets out a timeline for work phases. It’s in the concept phase now: Future phases (schematics, design development, documentation and building) add up to about 37 months, so the end product is three years out.