Walton Arts Center Looks to Expand, Needs Financial Aid

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In order to keep up with the growing arts and cultural needs of Northwest Arkansas, the Walton Arts Center on Dickson St. in Fayetteville is looking to undergo a $20 million renovation.

A couple weeks back, the Walton Arts Center submitted a proposal to the Fayetteville Advertising and Planning Commission, requesting $8.5 million in financial assistance.

The renovation will add nearly 30,000 square feet of space, including an expanded backstage area, lobby and a new entrance on Dickson St.

"When we opened 20 years ago, we were fully equipped and up to date,” said Beth Bobbitt, Walton Arts Center public relations manager. “Our audience attendance has increased significantly, we are basically busting at the seams."

Bobbitt said the community wants a thriving performance center.

"The arts and entertainment district in Fayetteville is so unique and it's what makes this area so special. I would just encourage people to support this investment in our community," she said.

The Fayetteville A&P Commission meets later this month to discuss the proposal.

If approved, a survey will go out, polling the people of Fayetteville.

"I think they are going to limit this one to about $20,000 so there won't be a whole lot of questions on the survey, maybe 10-15 questions in order to get a feeling of the citizens," said Marilyn Heifner, A&P Commission executive director.

If the funding is approved, Bobbitt hopes to see the renovation project begin this summer.

The expansion project is expected to be finished in 2015.

The Fayetteville A&P Commission will meet Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. to discuss the $8.5 million proposal.

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