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This year marks the 20th year of the Walton Arts Center’s Art of Wine Festival. Originally set for this month, the benefit is rescheduled for Sept. 8 and 11.

Current plans for the Winemaker’s Dinner on Sept. 8 include holding it in the center’s atrium for the first time, a six-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings from Ella’s Table in Fayetteville, live entertainment and a silent auction. Guiding guests through the wine courses will be Nicholas Paris, E&J Gallo’s director of global sourcing and sales education.

Previous winemakers have included Kristin Scheeler, Columbia Winery associate winemaker; Aaron Piotter, E&J Gallo Winemaker, North Coast Operations; Kellie Martin, J Vineyards & Winery wine ambassador; and Andy Abraham, Talbott Vineyards’ brand ambassador.

Uncorked! is scheduled for Sept. 11 and is set to include wine, beer and spirits tastings. A VIP option includes early entry to the event and access to a reserve tasting room.

Arts education and outreach programs will reap the benefits of the festival. Supported programs include the Colgate Classroom Series, Arkansas History Through the Arts, Digging Up Arkansas and Arts With Education Institute (AWE). The center reached some 35,000 students in the past year through education offerings.

When you attend a fundraising event at the Walton Arts Center, like the Art of Wine, Masquerade Ball or AMP Fest, you are supporting arts education programming for children and teachers in our region. Arts education programming has been a focus of the Walton Arts Center’s mission since the beginning.

“We believe arts education is important because it helps people of all ages better understand themselves and others,” said Laura Goodwin, vice president for learning and engagement at Walton Arts Center.

Through collaboration with Arkansas playwright Mike Thomas and Trike Theatre, the arts center developed Digging Up Arkansas, an original play about the state’s history.

According to Goodwin, the play presents historical facts in a memorable way through music and an interactive theater experience. It incorporates third- through fifth-grade Arkansas history concepts and aligns with other subjects like social sciences and history. Since its first performance in 2009, the play has been performed in every county in Arkansas. In all, 30,000 students across the state have seen the production. Important research by Walton Arts Center and professors from the University of Missouri and Texas A&M University that identifies how students benefit from learning through Digging Up Arkansas was published in a peer-reviewed journal in February.

Research shows that students who attended a performance of Digging Up Arkansas demonstrated greater historical content knowledge, increased enthusiasm for learning history, greater historical empathy and an increased interest in the performing arts. These findings suggest that there are valuable educational benefits to students when schools partner with arts organizations like Walton Arts Center.

“These findings demonstrate that partnerships between schools and arts organizations can offer students remarkable benefits. Cultural institutions like Walton Arts Center, teaching artists and arts integration specialists can improve students’ education with experiences that schools struggle to provide on their own,” Goodwin said.

“It’s exciting to serve the arts and education fields by providing this research,” Goodwin said, “and we hope this study will be useful to arts advocates in Northwest Arkansas and beyond.”


Art of Wine


Who: Walton Arts Center What: Winemaker’s Dinner, Uncorked! When: Sept. 8, 11 Where: Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville Information: (479) 443-4544 or

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected] .


For more photographs from these and other events, go to

Print Headline: Wine a win benefiting arts learning Center serves state’s students

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