City Plans Long-Term Relationship With Walton Arts Center

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The Fayetteville City Council plans to vote on an ordinance with the goal to protect the Walton Arts Center (WAC) on Dickson Street, while the WAC looks to expand into Benton County.

City Attorney Kit Williams said the ordinance was written in conjunction with the WAC and the University of Arkansas.

"We believe these documents do, they do guarantee the same quality and quantity of performances of the Broadway shows and the other things that have been happening for the Walton Arts Center that are going on right now, even after the new performing arts center is built in Bentonville, which will be larger," Williams said.

"But we didn’t want to be just the forgotten step-child down here and so that’s what the kind of language that we have gotten to protect our citizens," he said.

The agreement also states that the WAC can't fundraise for its campus in Bentonville until they are done fundraising for the campus on Dickson Street. In the meantime, the WAC started its $20 million expansion to its Fayetteville campus.

Williams said the city drafted this ordinance after they heard of the WAC's plan to expand to Bentonville and feared they would lose their performing arts center that's been in Fayetteville since 1992.

"I feel very comfortable with that now and very confident that in fact it's going to remain here," Williams said.  "I was concerned when the initial decision to move to Benton County was made because there was no assurance at that point for our Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street."

"So that's been my whole goal throughout this entire negotiation is to try to preserve the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street to make sure that it remains there because it's very important to us," he said.

The city of Fayetteville is the only one left to approve this ordinance. The WAC, the Walton Family Foundation and the University of Trustees have already signed off on it, according to Williams.

The city council will also vote on its lease agreement with the WAC. The 25-year lease is set to expire in 2017. However, they'll decide to start another 25-year lease to expire in 2039.

Click here to read more about the ordinance.