The Arkansas Arts Center has finished its sixth consecutive year in the black in a year that has shown overwhelming community support, increased outreach and public approval of a bond issue to help fund a newly renovated museum.
“We took another giant step toward our goal of a renovated Arts Center with the successful public vote to bond the revenue from an existing sales tax on out of town visitors for the benefit of the Arkansas Arts Center, MacArthur Military Museum and Historic MacArthur Park,” said AAC Executive Director Todd Herman. “We are incredibly grateful to all who voted and supported this measure and set a course for our children and grandchildren’s cultural future.”
As the state’s leader in international, visual and performing arts, the AAC ended its 2015-16 fiscal year with 327,833 visitors to the main facility in historic MacArthur Park, with 308,955 Arkansans reached by statewide touring programs (an increase of more than 10,000) and a total of 640,016 visitors impacted by Arts Center programs.
Sixty-eight (68) Arkansas communities were visited by the AAC state services program across 48 counties, including 208 schools, and 40,162 people enjoyed live productions in the Children’s Theatre. More than 3,000 students enrolled in 428 adult and children’s Museum School and Theatre classes, an increase of almost 500 students over the past year.
The Arts Center reaches communities throughout the state with programs such as Children’s Theatre on Tour. Theatre on Tour is often the first, or only, personal interaction with live theatre many students are given.
In the 2015-16 season, 34,073 audience members viewed Apollo: To the Moon, The Toymaker’s Apprentice or How the Camel Got His Hump, with 104 performances and two workshops in 49 communities throughout the state.
The Arts Center monitors each school’s percentage of eligibility rates for free and reduced lunches as a way of tracking the schools and communities it serves. The latest figures from the State Department of Education detail a 61% rate average across the state for free and reduced lunch eligibility percentages.
The average free and reduced lunch rate for public schools served by Theatre on Tour is 66.9%, higher than the state average of 61%. Some of the Arkansas communities served by the Children’s Theatre on Tour, including free and reduced lunch rates, include Arts & Science Center for Southeast AR, Pine Bluff (86.39%); Gardner Magnet Elementary, Hot Springs (88.41%); Harrisburg Elementary (80.05%); Western Hills Elementary School, Little Rock (88.64%); J. Austin White Cultural Center, Eudora (83.41%); Shirley Elementary School (85.78%) and West Memphis School District (73.97%).
In the 2015-16 season, 15,133 visitors viewed the Artmobile exhibition, Animals: Familiar & Fantastic at 28 venues in 25 communities throughout the state. The average free and reduced lunch rate for public schools served by the Artmobile is 63.63%, higher than the state average of 61%. Some of the Arkansas communities served by the Artmobile, including free and reduced lunch rates, include DeQueen Elementary School (77.86%); Gurdon School District (75.74%); Central Elementary School, Magnolia (70.55%); Landmark Elementary School, Little Rock (81.23%); West Side Elementary School, Greers Ferry (66.24%); Mountain View School District (65.62%) and Lamar School District (67.47%).
“We are thrilled by the increases in outreach and by our impact to more than half a million Arkansans over the past year,” Herman said. “We saw increased attendance to our Children’s Theatre productions and our youth programs, and student registrations in the Museum School were the highest they’ve been in the past six years. We feel strongly that arts education is an important part of a child’s development – and we are very pleased to be a key participant in their growth as citizens of the world.”
Herman’s presentation to the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Directors, sponsors, government officials and Foundation on August 22 also highlighted the acquisition of 187 works of art, including 29 purchases and 158 donations of art. Foundation President Bobby Tucker discussed the growing national and international reputation of the Arkansas Arts Center collection, as evidenced by the increasing number of requested loans of artwork from other museums, including the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art in Auburn, the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio and Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art in New York.
Herman presented the 2015-2016 Arkansas Arts Center “Employee of the Year” award to Marketing Coordinator Daniella Napolitano.
“Daniella is the first to volunteer to provide support to special events or educational programming, and her enthusiasm, creative ideas and collaborative spirit inspire us all,” said Angel Galloway, director of marketing and communications at the AAC. As an artist herself, Daniella truly understands the value and impact of vibrant cultural institutions, and she works incredibly hard in continually keeping the Arts Center relevant and engaging to our members and patrons.”
The “Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Award” is presented each year to honor those who serve and support the arts and the Arkansas Arts Center beyond the normal call of duty, a duty so well demonstrated by the late Winthrop Rockefeller for whom the award is named. The awardees are selected by a committee of past recipients, who are by definition the experts in public service through the arts.
Herman presented the 2015-2016 Winthrop Rockefeller Award to Terri Erwin.
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