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An Expanded Starr Theater & More Backstage Space bring more show options to Fayetteville!

Last week, we talked about what renovation means for the WAC lobby, and today we're talking about changes in Starr Theater and backstage.

As we mentioned in our previous post, a critical next step to these plans is the upcoming bond election on Tuesday, Nov. 12. A vote of yes or no will not affect taxes; your vote just allocates funds from the HMR tax. The HMR tax was created to fund projects that increase tourism in Fayetteville.  Walton Arts Center has been the economic engine of Dickson Street for 22 years; arts attendees spend an average of $20 beyond the cost of admission at area restaurants, on transportation, for refreshments and more. (Read more about the economic impact of WAC here.)

For more information on the vote, see 3 Votes for Fayetteville on Facebook, and visit the Washington County website for a full list of polling sites. A map of polling places can be viewed here.

Starr Theater Renovations

  • Large windows (with blackout option)
  • New, expanded seating
  • Expanded space
  • Dedicated entrance

 Rendering of Starr Theater by Boora Architects. The circular, yellow chandelier is an example fixture, not part of the design.

Starr Theater will be reoriented with seating toward West Ave., and expanded from 150 seats to 250! A new large window will allow natural light for some events, but the space will still have the option of being used as a black box theater. Seating will remain retractable, so the hall can be used for social events, shows with cabaret seating like our jazz series or as a traditional theater space. Starr Theater will also have its own entrance and lobby space (open to the main lobby) to ease the flow of patrons on nights with two performances. 

What's more exciting for Starr Theater is that once the backstage expansion (discussed in tomorrow’s post) is completed, Starr Theater will have even more dates open for performances! In our current configuration, Starr Theater is used as backstage storage and dressing room space almost 100 days a year. Larger shows like Disney's Beauty and the Beast have such large casts and storage needs; they can't all fit in our backstage areas. Starr Theater will no longer have to moonlight as storage space, and can finally step up and make WAC the two-theater performance venue it was meant to be!

With all this potential, Starr Theater can continue to host the same types of shows it has in the past, and so many more! Our original productions, Digging Up Arkansas and Bear State of Mind, teach local students about Arkansas, are held in Starr Theater. With its independence from Baum Walker Hall's schedule, more series and recurring events could be held in Starr, such as Saturday programming for children, comedy and open mic nights, jazz and more. The possibilities are endless!

Backstage Renovations

  • Storage capacity
  • Office space
  • Crew facilities

Besides opening up more opportunities in Starr Theater, the backstage expansion makes WAC a more attractive destination for performers. Improved facilities will benefit backstage and show crewmembers, by providing them with designated bathroom and shower facilities so they have their own space after a hard and active day. Our administrative offices, which are scheduled to be replaced by a new city parking structure, will be configured into the new backstage area against the parking structure as well.

With these changes, we plan to improve our patrons’ experiences and draw more tourists to Fayetteville for many years to come!

Dickson Street Entrance and Plaza rendering by Boora Architects.


A Renovated Lobby/Plaza Creates a New Destination Space for Fayetteville! 

Such exciting things are happening at Walton Arts Center! After 22 years, our building is ready to undergo a major face-lift so it can better serve the growing and changing needs of Fayetteville and the region. The schematic design phase is coming to an end, and we're getting close to the beginning of our renovation plans!

A critical next step is the upcoming bond election on Nov. 12. Your "Yes" vote will designate $6.9 million from the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant tax toward our $20 million+ project. The HMR tax was created to fund projects that increase tourism in Fayetteville.  Walton Arts Center has been the economic engine of Dickson Street for 22 years; arts attendees spend an average of $20 beyond the cost of admission at area restaurants, on transportation, for refreshments and more. (Read more about the economic impact of WAC here.)

A vote of yes or no will not affect taxes, your vote just directs how funds from the HMR tax are spent. For more information on the vote, see 3 Votes for Fayetteville on Facebook, and visit the Washington County website for a full list of polling sites and information about early voting this week. A map of polling places can be viewed here. If the vote passes, construction on the lobby will start this summer! Early voting is going on now at the Washington County Courthouse from 8am to 4:30pm.

In this post, we're talking about changes in the main lobby. Check back later this week, to learn more about other renovations!

 Dickson Street Entrance and Plaza rendering by Boora Architects.

Lobby Renovations

  • New modernized entrance
  • 15,000 square feet of additional lobby space
  • Improved accessibility
  • Balcony lobby open to main lobby
  • Unified, larger and centrally located concessions/coat check/Will Call area
  • Expanded restrooms
  • Technical upgrades

The new lobby, and its expansion onto Tyson Plaza, will create a more urban landscape and change the way WAC interacts with Dickson Street. The rendering shows the new central entrance and stairs that bring the building closer to the street and make it a more welcoming space on Dickson Street. This will allow create a destination for outdoor and indoor community gatherings, receptions and special events.   

If you've been to a packed show before, you know how cramped the lobby can be! The new layout will provide much needed space to improve patron experiences, and also opens the balcony-lobby area up for a more inclusive experience.

A new, larger concierge station is planned to serve as a one-stop destination for patrons to pick up tickets from Will Call, use Coat Check, grab booster seats and of course enjoy refreshments! The Box Office will also be relocated closer to Starr Theater (near the current West Ave. entrance) so it is more convenient for all patrons to access. And, ladies, the bathrooms are being expanded! More stalls are being added to the women's restrooms, and the men's to a lesser degree, to help you get in and out quicker, especially during intermission.

 Dickson Street Entrance and Plaza rendering by Boora Architects.

Within Baum Walker Hall, efforts are being made to improve accessible seating, adding more with central sight lines. Technical upgrades are also being made too much of the sound and lighting equipment in the hall. After 22 years, a lot has changed in show technology and an extensive upgrade like this will allow us to book the newest and most exciting performances!

Check back later to learn about the changes in Starr Theater!


“An Inspiration” – Mnozil Brass 

We had a phenomenal time with Mnozil Brass for our third performance in the 10x10 Arts Series, and judging from the feedback you all did too! Baum Walker Hall was filled with musicians and music lovers of all ages, and Mnozil Brass did not disappoint! A big thanks to everyone who came and made this a special night. Our next 10x10 show is in January, so mark your calendars for the amazing dancers of Comapgnie Käfig on Jan. 23, 2014!

Here are a few comments we received from you after the show:

“Great show!! Couldn’t keep my mouth relaxed!!”

“The sickest, greatest, most inspirational concert I’ve ever seen!! Bravo!!” – Associate Prof. of Horn at Oklahoma State University

“Literally life changing! –Now to go home and practice.” – OSU Student




Mnozil Brass in their element!


10x10 won’t be back until January, but in the mean time we’ve got great shows like RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and Cherish the Ladies: A Celtic Christmas to tide you over!


Mnozil Brass wraps up October 10x10!

This Friday, Oct. 25, we have our third 10x10 Arts Series performance with Mnozil Brass. Called the “Monty Pythons of music”, these Austrians create high-energy concerts with pieces ranging from the William Tell Overture to Bohemian Rhapsody.

We had the chance to ask members Leonhard Paul and Wilfried Brandstötter a few questions. Read them below, then watch a video of them performing – sometimes upside down!

1. Fill in the blank; Mnozil Brass is ______.

Seven instruments, seven characters, seven opinions.

2. What is your most memorable performance and why?

We have done about 2,000 gigs so far, so there have been a couple of memorable things. We have performed in wine cellars and on trucks, on boats and in pubs, for weddings and funerals, in very small (50pax) and very large halls (7000pax). 

3. What kind of art inspires you?


4. As an artist, is there anything you hope to be able to accomplish?

Sure. Wisdom and respect and a better embouchure. 

5. Who is your artistic icon? Why?

All the great performers! Frank Sinatra, Spike Jones and the City Slickers, Victor Borge, Barbra Streisand, Danny Kaye and many more.

6. What profession other than yours would you most like to attempt?

We are happy as musicians! 

7. What are the three most played songs on your iPod?

Changes daily. 

8. What do you want audiences to walk away with after your performance?

With a smile on their face and a DVD.

9. If there were a feature film created about your life who would play you?

Krasimir Stojakawowsky.

10. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

To play the violin secretly.

11. Music and comedy is such a great combination! Were you born funny or did you study comedy as well?

As we haven’t studied comedy we must have been born this way.

12. What is your favorite meal before a performance?


13. Mnozil? What’s the story behind the name?

We’re named after the cafe where we started playing.

Tickets are still available, so help us welcome these amazing performers to NWA! Join the Facebook Event to stay up to date with all the information on our pre-show Creative Conversation with a member of the Mnozil Brass team, and the post-show party where you can mingle with the performers and enjoy a signature 10x10 cocktail!



Thanks for Supporting Arts + Literacy! 


This October, we decided to do something a little different with Information Literacy Awareness Month. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle teaches the Beast to read, highlighting the importance of literacy through the arts. In recognition of Belle’s commitment, we decided to partner with the Ozark Literacy Council to promote “Arts + Literacy,” a campaign to raise money and awareness for literacy in our community. From Oct. 1 – 14, $1 was donated to OLC for every ticket purchased to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is happening this weekend. If you missed out, don’t worry! Limited tickets are still available, and OLC will have information tables set up in the lobby at every performance!

We are excited to say the campaign was a great success! With your help, we were able to donate $500 to OLC to support literacy in our community! The Ozark Literacy Council’s mission it to improve lives by expanding and promoting literacy within the community. Their vision is to ensure that everyone in Washington County possess literacy and language skills that enhance their lives and empower them to become full participating members of our community.

Ozark Literacy Council…

  • Is the oldest and largest literacy council in the state.
  • Serves well over 300 students from more than 50 different countries.
  • Had almost 20,000 instructional hours completed by volunteers last year.
  • Offers all classes at no cost.

Literacy is more than being able to read, it’s the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.

Did you know…

  • 298,000 Arkansas function at below basic literacy skills. That’s 10.5% of the state’s population!*
  • 93 million adults (32.1%) struggle with basic literacy skills nationwide.*
  • The U.S. ranks 5th on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • Low literacy costs the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
  • According to, for every dollar that gets spent on adult illiteracy, society reaps $7.14 in returns — whether through increased revenues or decreased expenditures. Thanks to your help, this campaign could have a $3,570 impact!

Literacy + Community

Besides the donations made to OLC, we also participated in other events in the community to encourage literacy.

On Oct. 8, we joined 5 News anchor Jocelyne Pruna for a funny fairy tale story time at the Fayetteville Public Library. Kids whose parents are involved with them in family literacy activities score 10 points higher on standardized tests. Plus, a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, more important than factors like neighborhood and family income!

Literacy +  Schools

Just like Belle, NWA school children love books, and we wanted to hear about it! The I Love Books Essay Content was held at three area schools that participate in the Northwest Arkansas Writing Project through the University of Arkansas. This was part of our Learning and Engagement literacy initiative. Students from 2nd-12th grade wrote essays talking about their favorite books, and two winners were selected at random. Read one of the essays here! Congratulations to our winners: Taylor Caudle of Prairie Grove Middle School and Lexi Willroth of Walker Elementary School!

Beauty and the Beast will be at Walton Arts Center for five performances this weekend, from Oct. 18 to 20. More information and tickets can be found at:

*Based on population size in 2003 when the U.S. Department of Education conducted the National Assessment Survey of Adult Literacy.

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