Walton Arts Center announced on December 1, 2010 that it plans to expand the facility into Bentonville, Arkansas. The center will build a 2,200 seat theater within a half-mile of Bentonville Square. This expansion complements the growing downtown area.
Walton Arts Center
The Walton Foundation, one of the major sponsors of the Walton Arts Center, stated that they wished for the art center’s expansion to be in Bentonville in order to count on them as a primary sponsor of the expansion. The Walton Arts Center is located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Bentonville and the Walton Foundation want the expansion in the city of Bentonville partly because of the new art museum. Fayetteville wants the expansion to remain within the city. The City of Fayetteville feels that moving the expansion out of the area will be detrimental to the entertainment district.
A compromise came from The Walton Arts Center as it announced the plans for a new 2,200 seat theater in Bentonville and a smaller, 600 seat “black box” expansion facility to be built adjacent to the existing art center.
What’s New in Bentonville Square
Just off of the square, on the corner of A Street and Central Avenue, is the Crystal Bridges Museum at the Massey. This is the temporary home of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which will open on November 11, 2011.
Compton Gardens has new trails which connect the gardens and Crystal Bridges (once opened) to Orchard Park. Orchard Park opened earlier in 2010. Just across from Compton Gardens is the new ice skating rink at Lawrence Plaza. Access to Compton Gardens and Lawrence Plaza is within two blocks of Bentonville Square.
Impact on Bentonville
The newly proposed 2,200 seat theater is a blessing for the Bentonville area. It is a 40 to 45 minute drive each way to the Walton Art Center from Bentonville. The new parking regulations in Fayetteville make it less attractive to travel to the entertainment district. A local theater is very welcome.
A new theater will enhance the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Bentonville is working hard to revive and enhance the downtown area. Restaurants and a local children’s theater group already dot the area around the square. The library is just a couple of blocks off the square. David Peel Park is a great place for kids to play and free Wi-Fi is available in Bentonville Square.
A 2,200 seat theater will bring more visitors to the downtown area and more tourist dollars to Bentonville. Hotels already exist to handle out of town travelers. Expanding the Walton Arts Center to Bentonville will open up theater opportunities for people in Bella Vista, Bentonville, and border towns like Noel and Jane, Missouri.
There are several bids in for the building of the expanded theater in Bentonville. The Walton Arts Center has not made a final determination as to who will construct the new theater, nor has an exact location been finalized. It is expected that the new theater will be completed by 2015. The City of Bentonville eagerly awaits the final decision of the Walton Arts Center. I’ll keep you posted.
Walton Arts Center Expansion Plans
Personal email from Peter Lane, President/CEO Walton Arts Center