Dr. Bevan Keating

Wildwood Park for the Arts announced this afternoon that current Wildwood Artistic Director Dr. Bevan Keating will succeed Leslie Golden as Executive Director, effective October 8, 2018.


Golden, who has worked with Wildwood since November 2008, has served as Managing Director and, subsequently, Executive Director, launched the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) in 2014, the “Art in the Park” visual exhibition program and led endeavors to maintain and improve the Park’s 100 acre-span of trails and botanical spaces surrounding its Swan Lake.

Keating also serves as Associate Professor of Music/Director of Conducting and Choral Studies at UA Little Rock and as Director of Music and the Arts at Little Rock’s Second Presbyterian Church. He is currently directing and conducting “Seussical: The Musical” at Wildwood in partnership with vocal ensemble Praeclara October 26 – 28.


The full press release follows.

The Board of Directors and Leslie Golden have announced her departure as Executive Director of Wildwood Park for the Arts. Dr. Bevan Keating, Artistic Director, assumed the role of Executive Director on October 8, 2018.

“I am honored by the opportunity to continue Wildwood’s mission of enriching the lives of Arkansans of all ages through nature and the arts,” Keating said. “I look forward to exploring the possibilities for community engagement and development at Wildwood Park for the Arts.”

Dr. Bevan Keating is currently directing and conducting SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL, in performance at Wildwood in partnership with Praeclara October 26 – 28, 2018. Keating’s recent directing credits with Praeclara at Wildwood include INTO THE WOODS, ANNIE, THE MUSIC MAN, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and his telling of the famed vampire, DRACULA UNEARTHED.

Keating directed Wildwood’s statewide educational tour of THE BREMEN TOWN MUSICIANS in 2015, and he provides artistic leadership for the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts. Keating is also Associate Professor of Music and Director of Conducting and Choral Studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and serves as Director of Music and the Arts at Little Rock’s Second Presbyterian Church, home to the Praeclara performing arts organization.

During Golden’s tenure as Managing Director and then Executive Director, Wildwood’s annual roster of visitors and program participants has grown from just over 5,000 to approximately 45,000 annually. With the Board of Directors and key co-workers, Leslie launched the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) in 2014 and the Art in the Park visual exhibition program.

Additional programs have included several concert series; ten years of the annual LANTERNS! Festival; Vine & Dine and FEASTival; a collegiate showcase series; as well as arts-in-education residencies supported by the Arkansas Arts Council and spanning the school year in five local public schools. Wildwood’s generous donors have provided Cabe Festival Theatre upgrades to facilities infrastructure, debuted WAMA, and supported general operations. Golden has led four residential NCCC AmeriCorps teams and developed STEM endeavors and seven Eagle Scout projects to support service and operations on Wildwood’s 100 acres. These things were possible because Wildwood staff members have worked with hundreds of volunteers annually, including Central Arkansas Master Naturalists to establish new trails, and the Asian Woodland Garden’s team of Pulaski County Master Gardeners. “I am grateful for Wildwood, the Park’s guests and supporters, and the many artists, administrators, board members and volunteers with whom I’ve had the honor to work since November, 2008,” she said. “While I plan to engage in new endeavors, I look forward to seeing the ways in which Wildwood will flourish with this transition to new leadership.

“Wildwood is a premier venue for the arts and arts education and serves as a gathering place for enjoying woodland and botanical green space,” Golden said. “As always, the Board and staff are dedicated to enriching the lives of Arkansans of all ages by creating community through nature and the arts.”