By Derek Oxford
For Northwest Arkansas residents, music and theater options are not in short supply.
Walton Arts Center
The Walton Arts Center has been a cultural center in Fayetteville for more than two decades, since opening in 1992 thanks to a generous donation from late Walmart founder Sam Walton.
In order to better serve the public, it is currently under a major expansion and renovation, that will enhance audience experiences with an expanded and renovated atrium and become a destination event space.
Starr Theater will be updated and much needed backstage space will be added to ensure two fully functional theaters are being operated in the main facility.
There will also be technical upgrades added to keep Walton Arts Center current with the times and the demands of performing artists and tours. A new parking deck for more than 200 vehicles and administrative offices for Walton Arts Center staff is now open.
TheatreSquared, Northwest Arkansas’ only year-round professional theater, offers a unique audience experience in the 175-seat theater in Nadine Baum Studios. In 2011, it was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s 10 most promising emerging theaters.
Arts Center of the Ozarks
Since 1967, the Arts Center of the Ozarks has been a go-to option for the people of Northwest Arkansas.
The artistic vision and direction is unique within the landscape of the Northwest Arkansas arts community, and provides a plethora of artistic and educational experiences of multidisciplinary endeavors that encompass the arts and impacts the community, according to its website.
There are live performances scheduled throughout the year, an art gallery, visual arts classes, summer art camps, theater and drama classes, private and semi-private acting classes and summer music camps.
Special events also take place throughout the year, including the 65th annual Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair, which the Arts Center of the Ozarks sponsors.
The newest rendition of the Walmart AMP, formerly the Arkansas Music Pavilion, opened two years ago off Interstate 49 in Rogers and accommodates 9,500 people, with 3,200 covered seats and additional general admission seating on a sloped lawn.
It has upgraded air-conditioned concessions and restrooms, a permanent pavilion and the biggest stage house in Arkansas.
Musical acts that have performed in 2016 so far include Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, Ellie Goulding, Kenny Chesney, Journey, Doobie Brothers and Widespread Panic.
Other acts that have performed so far include Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Steely Dan, Boston, Santana, Foreigner and Tim McGraw.
Rogers Little Theater (Victory Theater)
Built in 1927, this theater was originally a community gathering place and was renovated several times as a movie and vaudeville theater before closing in the early 1970s. In 2008, thanks to a donation from the Walmart Foundation, contributions from donors and volunteers, the city of Rogers purchased the theater to serve as the long-term home of the Rogers Little Theater.
More than 20,000 audience members have attended productions in the last two seasons, and the theater relies on more than 700 volunteers, including approximately 150 volunteer actors, according to its website.