Be It Resolved
The most comprehensive coverage of the arts and entertainment in Northwest Arkansas continues to be in print.
Yes, we are blowing our own horn this year -- not a thing print journalists do. But 2018 will mark the 30th year since The Springdale News introduced the first arts and entertainment pages to Northwest Arkansas -- way back in 1988, in offices on Emma Avenue.
Surprisingly, what we covered wasn't all that different "back in the day." In Fayetteville, there were concerts in Barnhill Arena on the University of Arkansas campus -- I remember The Pointer Sisters, by way of example; really well-done drama at University Theatre -- "Evita" with Vickie Hilliard set the standard for me, as did a summer production of "The Boys Next Door" with Warren Rosenaur; and there were art shows in the Arkansas Union gallery and in the Fine Arts Building.
In Springdale, the Arts Center of the Ozarks was already in full bloom, presenting summer musicals outdoors to capacity audiences -- "The Music Man," "Oklahoma" and "Fiddler on the Roof" come immediately to mind -- and showing art in the little church building that was home. Oh, and the annual ball and auction was THE charity event in the region -- and has been copied endlessly ever since.
Rogers Little Theater was being born up the road, doing what was essentially gypsy theater wherever there was a space to land for a week or two. I remember designing lights for "Tribute" in what is now Haas Hall in Rogers but was then a home for senior citizens -- and every night we prayed we wouldn't burn the building down.
The UA also had an amazing archaeological and anthropological museum then -- and now sadly does not. I still harbor hope for a new one. But the Shiloh Museum was going strong in Springdale, as was the Rogers Historical Museum up the road.
Last but not least, in those early years, Ozark StageWorks was born as the first professional theater company in Northwest Arkansas -- failing financially but planting the seed for TheatreSquared, which has turned into a poster child for professional regional theater.
Those were good times, right?
So much -- there's so much to cover now that one publication couldn't fit it all in anymore! So this year, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette did three things to expand arts and entertainment coverage. The Free Weekly transformed itself from alt-weekly to arts and is now an online product -- which means it has all the space in the world; What's Up!, the tab-size format inherited from The Northwest Arkansas Times in one of the many incarnations, mergers and marriages of the past few years, grew to 28 pages and moved to Sunday; and we added a broadsheet page on Friday to make sure everybody has a last-minute weekend planner in front of them.
Why did we do all that? Because most of those institutions listed above are still happy and healthy -- and now there's also Crystal Bridges, an internationally known museum, and the Amazeum for kids next door; and Artist's Laboratory Theatre; and Pilot Arts, which is brand new; and Arts Live and Trike Theatre companies for kids; and Rogers Little Theater has grown up to be Arkansas Public Theatre and does shows straight off New York stages; and two big film festivals; and the Roots Festival; and the AMP -- and oh, yes, the Walton Arts Center, which didn't exist in 1988 either!
That's why we're doing the unusual and making the continuing coverage of the arts in Northwest Arkansas this year's No. 1 story. It's not because we think we're that cool, but because we wanted to take a moment to look back at where the arts in our community have been, gape open-mouthed at where we are now and look to the future with absolute delight. This is an extraordinarily fortunate community -- and we are an extraordinarily fortunate team of arts writers who get to see it all up close and personal.
Thanks for reading!
NAN What's Up on 12/24/2017
Print Headline: Celebrating Creating