The Walton Arts Center
A view of the seating in the Baum Walker Stage area of the Walton Arts Center.
The Joy Pratt Markham Gallery, host to several art collections over the years.
The Black-box style Star Theatre. The blank-slate nature of this theatre makes it versatile in what events can be held there.
Backstory and Context
The Walton Arts Center Council formed in 1986, six years before this facility was completed. The initial purpose of the Council was to support the construction of the Walton Arts Center. The initial construction was funded by way of a $5 million dollar gift from Sam Walton, numerous donations from other private donors, and a city-wide tax. The location chosen for the Center was the corner of Dickson Street and North School Avenue. This placed the center at the heart of downtown Fayetteville, and close to the University of Arkansas, making it an ideal location.
Construction began in 1990 and the complex was completed in 1992. The primary facilities in the center include Baum Walker Hall, a presidium stage ideal for major theatrical productions or musical groups. The smaller, Black box style Star Theatre has a unique set-up and can be utilized in many different ways. Touring art can be found in the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery. The Walton Arts Center often hosts traveling and local theater productions.
In 2016, the Walton Arts Center underwent a massive renovation. This expanded the performance spaces, as well as drastically overhauled the Walker Auditorium. All told, the renovation cost $23 million dollars. The Center held a grand re-opening event to celebrate both the completion of the renovations and the 25th anniversary of the facility on November 19th of 2016.
The impact the Walton Arts Center has had on the surrounding area is profound. The presence of the facility inspired a sense of community that helped to revitalize the commercial district of Dickson Street. People interested in attending an event at the Walton Arts Center naturally end up on Dickson Street, bringing more attention to the local businesses there. While Dickson Street has always played host to many different commercial facilities, the presence of the Walton Arts Center seemingly breathed new life into the area. Efforts have been taken to beautify the surrounding area with murals and other art installations. Since the onset of the new millennium, the number of restaurants, bars, and other local businesses on Dickson Street has exploded. This in turn brought more people to the Walton Arts Center, closing the loop on the sympathetic relationship. Dickson Street was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, forever cementing it and the Walton Arts Center as significant locations.
Ryburn, Stacy. (2016, November 20). "Fayetteville Presents Expanded Arts Center." Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, p. 1.
Bartholomew, Justin. "Walton Arts Center Plans Grand Re-Opening Celebration for Nov. 19." Fayetteville Flyer. October 7th, 2016. Accessed November 29th, 2020. https://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/
"The Walton Arts Center Celebrates 25 Years With Grand Reopening The Walton Arts Center Celebrates 25 Years With Grand Reopening." UWIRE Text, November 20, 2016, 1. Gale Academic OneFile (accessed November 29, 2020). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A471393997/AONE?u=aktechuniv&sid=AONE&xid=1d1a7dab.
Vinson Images, 2016
Branch Photography, 2016
Branch Photography, 2016