The Arkansas Arts Center will reveal its capital campaign progress and goal for the new Arts Center at an event at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Arts Center. Architect Jeanne Gang, whose firm Studio Gang has designed the new arts center, will reveal finalized drawings of the new Arts Center, estimated at last count to cost around $98.8 million. Little Rock has sold $31 million in bonds as the public part of the private-public venture.
The Arkansas Arts Center Foundation has kept its fundraising goal secret. Merritt Dyke, who sits on both the foundation and the Arts Center boards but declined to give any campaign figures, said in an interview after Monday’s meeting of the AAC board, “When we’re done here it’s going to be something Central Arkansas can be very proud of.” He said it would be an economic boon to the city. The capital campaign has the cumbersome name “Reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center Campaign for Our Cultural Future.”
Dyke also said he had a commitment from the city that its allocation of $350,000 would not be reduced. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has recommended that the city slice its allocation to the Museum of Discovery — $230,000 — in half this year.
Laine Harbor, the interim director of the Arkansas Arts Center, told trustees that the Arts Center galleries, gift shop and restaurant will close in 48 days in preparation for its move to its temporary location. The Arts Center will occupy a former grocery store in Riverdale (most recently Walmart) until the new Arts Center opens in fall 2022.
The Arts Center plans to throw a “Delta Exhibition” closing celebration on June 28 and will likely have other closing events as well. The atrium entrance will be closed June 30.
The museum school will remain open through Aug. 28; entrance will only be from the south, lobby side of the building. The Summer Theater Academy will run through Aug. 2.
Renovation of the nearly 30,000-square-foot store in Riverdale is underway; the foundation is footing the bill. The museum school and the Children’s Theatre will continue at what some suggest should be called the “Arts Center at Riverdale.” The building is getting a big exterior rehab as well, with bright colorful signage visible from Cantrell Road, the back of the building and the parking lot and lighted signage saying Arkansas Arts Center.