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story.lead_photo.caption File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF @NWABENGOFF Martin Miller, executive director of TheatreSquared, talks March 1 about the West Theatre while giving a tour of the new TheatreSquared building under construction in downtown Fayetteville. A large donation from the Walker Foundation for the construction was announced Thursday.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Add the new TheatreSquared to the list of buildings bearing a room with the Walker name thanks to a sizable donation.

TheatreSquared announced Thursday in a news release a $1.5 million contribution from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable foundation toward its capital campaign.

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The donation puts the theater at $26 million of its $31 million construction goal. The new buildings are under construction at the southeast corner of Spring Street and West Avenue, directly across from the theater's home at Nadine Baum Studios.

The idea is to raise the rest of the money before the 50,000-square-foot, two-building site hosts its first performances in August, Executive Director Martin Miller said.

"This gift gives us wonderful momentum," he said. "I think, quite rightly, the Walker Foundation is viewed as a leader in the philanthropic community in Northwest Arkansas. We know that the example of their gift will help inspire additional giving that will keep us moving toward our goal."

The rehearsal room overlooking the corner of West Avenue and Spring Street will be named in the Walkers' honor. Construction of the entire facility should wrap this summer.

The main building will house two theaters, the rehearsal room, offices, education and community space, design workshops and a cafe and bar, according to the release. A separate building to the south will have eight guest-artist apartments. Outdoor areas will include a patio on Spring Street, a second-level terrace on West Avenue and a rooftop deck.

The City Council in 2017 invested $3.1 million toward construction of the building. The Advertising and Promotion Commission also committed $3 million over 15 years. The Walton Family Foundation in total has awarded TheatreSquared $12.5 million in grants.

The theater is also raising money for a separate $3 million trust fund to back operations, serve as a contingency for construction costs and create a programming reserve. A little more than $1 million so far has been raised for that fund, Miller said.

The Walker donation marks a milestone, underscoring the community's regard for TheatreSquared as a cultural anchor of the city and region, Miller said.

"It's something that comes with a lot of pride, to be in that circle of the major projects they have supported," he said. "If you look around at some of the key buildings and projects in our community -- they're holding things together in crucial places."

NW News on 03/15/2019

Print Headline: Theater announces major donation

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