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Learning & Engagement at Walton Arts Center

Here at Walton Arts Center, we strive to positively impact our community through learning and engagement.  One of our main goals is to strengthen school learning communities through arts integration teacher training by to sharing model arts integration programs with the State education community.

One way we reach this goal is by training teachers throughout the area on how to creatively integrate education about the arts into their classroom lesson plans.  There are three main programs designed for these teachers: AWE Institute, SmART Residency and ARTeacher Fellowship.

ARTeacher Fellows

This year’s ARTeacher Fellowship was held June 19-21.  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative and the Center for Children and Youth joined the Walton Arts Center in an effort to provide this exemplary professional development. The Center for Children and Youth selected 27 Jr. high and high school literacy and social studies teachers to participate in the program, and they will implement the arts integration strategies across their curriculums for a year.

ARTeacher Fellows studied with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presenter, Randy Barron; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art School Programs Manager, Anne Krybill; and University of Arkansas’ Center for Children and Youth, Hung Pham and Dr. Chris Goering.

ARTeacher Fellowship teachers participating in an art integration strategy for the classroom

Last year, the ARTeacher Fellowship reached nearly 500 students with 10 teachers participating in the program, so there are great expectations for the impact this year’s 27 trained educators will have on Northwest Arkansas students.

Teachers being trained through the ARTeacher Fellowship with small group practices

All three programs have yielded positive results in the classroom, for teachers and students alike, all the while keeping the arts alive in schools.  Teachers have noticed that students respond well to art integration strategies with better attitudes, eagerness to participate and an overall preference to the strategies over traditional ones.  Teachers that have participated in the programs say they have gained confidence teaching literacy and social studies with the art integration strategies and 90% believe their teaching skills have improved through the training.

We are excited to see the talented teachers integrate the arts into their curriculum this upcoming school year!  To learn more about the arts integration teaching training programs, visit our website


Artosphere Festival Orchestra {sneak preview}

We had the honor of getting a sneak preview of the Artosphere Festival Orchestra performances while sitting on stage as they rehearsed this morning!  Under direction of Conductor Corrado Rovaris, the orchestra prepared Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92 for Friday night’s Evening of Beethoven concert at the Walton Arts Center.

AFO Rehearsal

With a “buon giorno” and a raise of his arms, Rovaris gained the full attention of the orchestra and the rehearsal began.  They played through the entire piece once, and then went back to perfect sections in order to express the emotion that Beethoven wanted to convey to the audience.  Rovaris described what was wanted by the musicians through a series of arm movements, humming sequences, facial expressions and a few words.  The musicians would listen intently to his instruction then play the notes even more beautifully than the first time.

Sitting on the left of the bassoonists and clarinetist, in front of the trumpets and timpani and behind an array of strings was an amazing experience.  The musicians that created the full, put-together orchestra sound were heard individually on stage.  It goes without saying, that the individual sounds were just as wonderful standing alone as with the entire group.  

AFO Musicians

It was interesting to hear the conversation that emerged between the woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings.  Call/answer sections were frequently featured that included a group of woodwinds and a group of strings.  The woodwinds would let their reed vibrations ring through the hall, answered by the sharpness of the bow against the strings. 

From our vantage point, we also saw the visual aspects that go into a performance.  Rovaris acted as a type of choreographer for the bows and fingers that controlled the instruments’ sounds.  The musicians also mimicked Rovaris’ facial expressions to add to the meaning behind the music.     

Music Director, Corrado Rovaris

After the musicians had perfected the emotions that they are to perform for the audience tomorrow night, Rovaris concluded the rehearsal with a flick of his wrist and baton.

This series of Artosphere Festival Orchestra performances is a must-see!  For more information about the concert series and to reserve tickets for the festival events visit our website, or call the box office at 479.443.5600. 


Walton Arts Center mourns the loss of artist Lee Littlefield 

Walton Arts Center was saddened to hear last week of the death of sculptor Lee Littlefield. Littlefield taught Arkansas educators at the 2006 Arts With Education Institute at Walton Arts Center. His teaching inspired classroom teachers and their students to be a part of a public art project, Walton Arts Center’s public art initiative, I-540Flowers: Cultivating the Northwest Arkansas Neighborhood.

Installing I-540 Flowers

Working with Littlefield and Community Creative Center artist, Susan Hutchcroft and John F. Kennedy Center Arts Integration consultant, Sean Layne, AWE teachers designed, fabricated and installed a public sculpture in front of Nadine Baum Studios. The installation was celebrated with a teacher tableau at the conclusion of AWE Institute. I-540 Flowers featured Littlefield’s whimsical sculpture along the 540 corridor between Fayetteville and Bentonville and celebrated the role of public art in Northwest Arkansas. Lee Littlefield is fondly remembered in Northwest Arkansas.

Installing I-540 Flowers

To learn more about his life and legacy here, and to view how his art impacted the Walton Arts Center, along with all of Northwest Arkansas read I-540 Flowers.


The Art of Wine

In spirit of the Art of Wine Festival this weekend, we decided to brush up on our wine sipping techniques!  Every aspect of drinking wine is outlined from which glasses to use with specific wines, to what food tastes best with wines and there is even a wine family tree! Luckily, we have some handy charts to help explain the vast world of wine.

Image via Wine FollyWith the exception of a tumbler, there are three basic components to a wine glass; bowl, stem and foot.  How large the bowl is, how long the stem is and how wide the foot is determines which glasses best suit different wines.  

Image via Pinterest These guidelines show just how much wine ends up in your glass. This is especially useful when hosting dinners so you know how much you are serving your guests and how much is going into the food you are preparing. {As noted in the image, don't forget to treat yourself!}

Image via Wine Folly Did you know that the easiest foods to match to a wide variety of wines are starches? Or how about that the hardest foods to match with wines are an assortment of vegetables and chocolate? Here is the breakdown of what to eat with certain wines. Review this chart before your next meal to ensure a perfect blend of food and drink!

Image via PinterestThe ever-popular wine and cheese combination is explained with this wheel diagram. Take note of a few cheeses that go well with both a red and white wine, for example Swiss with Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.  

Image via Pinterest

We thought this was a fun way to show the wine family tree! Refer back to this periodic table of wine the next time you are in question of the origin and color of a specific wine.  

These tips to being a connoisseur of wine will definitely come in handy at the Art of Wine Festival events, June 13 – 15, and tickets are still available. Join us for a fun weekend of tasting delicious wines and enjoying the finest cuisine!  


Jeff Schomburger's Guest Commentary 

This article can be read in the Sunday, June 9 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times, or by visiting NWA Online.  


My family and I have lived in Fayetteville for 10 years and I have served on the Walton Arts Center Board for the past nine, including the last four years as chairman.

Growth at the arts center has been tremendous since its inception, and the past few years have been particularly exciting. The amount of discussion I’ve heard about the Walton Arts Center recently is particularly empowering as it underscores the widespread passion and commitment we all feel for it.

Our vision is to create a quality of life in Northwest Arkansas that is second to none by drawing worldclass arts and entertainment to our region. As we grow, our donors and patrons continue to ask for more programming options. From a business standpoint, we want to ensure Northwest Arkansas, and WaltonArts Center specifi cally, can get the same type of entertainment as Kansas City, St. Louis or Tulsa. We need more space to make this a reality. Our board made a deliberate decision to pursue a strategy of regional facility growth to meet these needs. Renovating Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street is the linchpin of that strategy as this facility is the cornerstone of our organization. We host nearly 350 events a year at WAC, and we see that number growing significantly in the future. I was pleased that at our last board meeting we passed amotion authorizing staff to begin the capital campaign for our $20 million-plus renovation of Walton Arts Center’s Fayetteville campus.

We will see a complete transformation in the next few years on Dickson Street.

We also made a decision to proceed with building a new Arkansas Music Pavilion.

The AMP is a project I have been particularly passionate about. People have asked me, however, how it fits into our plans.

We purchased the AMP nearly three years ago for two reasons: 1) large-scale popular concerts are the No. 1 unmet entertainment need in Northwest Arkansas, and if WAC manages it, we ensure we can program complementary acts and meet community demand; and 2) concerts are profitable. WAC is a nonprofit organization and every year, we raise nearly 50 percent of our annual budget from donations. Whenmoney comes in from AMP concerts, we can use that money to support our most important programs in the community - like engaging more than 50,000 school students in art programming and presenting our 10-by-10 arts series, for which tickets are only $10.

As excited as I am about the AMP, some people have told me they felt uninformed about the process around our decision to locate the AMP at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers. For that, I am sorry. I value constructive feedback, as does our staff , and changes are under way in response. As a nonprofi t arts organization, we rely on broad-based community support and our goal is to always be open and transparent. We shared Mrs. Johnelle Hunt’s gift of land with our board back in May 2012. Our facilities and executive committees met many times over the past 12 months to discuss the AMPand guide staff in the due diligence process. Recent funding for the project was secured, prompting immediate consideration by our full board. We feel confident with our decision.

But we recognize our community wants to be more engaged. In response to this, we will work to expand our communication and engagement eff orts.

I hope you will watch for public input sessions (some have already occurred) on both the WAC expansion and the AMP. Check the Walton Arts Center website for more continuous updates on the planning process, and look for proactive summaries coming out of our board meetings. If you have other ideas for how we can better communicate, I invite you to contact me.

Fayetteville is WAC’s home and, as we grow, will remain our operating headquarters.

With the majority of the arts center staff and 12 of the 20WAC board members living in Fayetteville, we value the character and artistic integrity that makes this community uniquely ours.

We recognize the support of our partners - the city of Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas and visionaries who made Walton Arts Center a reality more than 20 years ago. All of our growth strategies are predicated around ensuring Walton Arts Center remains the best performing arts center in Arkansas and beyond.

My family loves Walton Arts Center and Dickson Street. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve on the board and I look forward to exciting new arts endeavors in Fayetteville and around Northwest Arkansas.