Walton Arts Center Celebrates Planned $23 Million Expansion

Walton Arts Center leaders held a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the $23 million expansion and renovation of Walton Arts Center.

Walton Arts Center has raised over $20.5 million to date or 89 percent of the $23 million goal and encourages the public to join them and to help complete the fundraising goal. The expansion is schedule for completion in November 2016.

The Investing in our Future: The Expansion of Walton Arts Center capital campaign will add 30,000 square feet of space, including a new and expanded atrium that connects to Dickson Street, significant renovations and expansion of Starr Theater, expanded space for technical and theatrical equipment. and new administrative offices for Walton Arts Center. These enhancements will modernize the facility and create a destination for more arts, education programs, special events and community gatherings.

“This is a historic day in the life of Walton Arts Center,” said Peter B. Lane, president and CEO of Walton Arts Center. “The expansion of Walton Arts Center will transform the relationship between Walton Arts Center patrons, artists and children while helping to dramatically impact Dickson Street and the entertainment district. We will continue to bring great performing artists and entertainers from around the world and the expansion and renovation will allow us to continue to build upon that success.”

A virtual tour of the how the finished renovated facility will look is available online.

Walton Arts Center has played an important role in Northwest Arkansas for three decades, and the community has provided huge financial support to the center's expansion and renovation project. Those major contributors include the city of Fayetteville ($6.5 million), The Walton Family Foundation ($5 million), the Walmart Foundation ($1.5 million), Kelli and Marti Sudduth ($1 million), J.B. Hunt Transport Services ($500,000), Tyson Foods ($500,000), Starr Foundation $500,000), and General Mills ($500,000). 

“Walton Arts Center has been a leader in arts education for our schools and school children, an economic driver for all of Northwest Arkansas and a key part of the quality of life amenities that serves as a recruiting tool for companies in our community,” said Greg Lee, chairman of Walton Arts Center Council. “We expect this campaign to increase support for Walton Arts Center and serve even more members of our community.” 

It was also announced Tuesday that the Helen R. Walton Distinguished Achievement Award was awarded to Pat Walker, an individual whose outstanding service, support and leadership has had a significant impact on bringing the communities of Northwest Arkansas together in support of the arts and the culture life of our community.

“Pat Walker shares the generosity and philanthropic vision of Helen Walton, pledging her time and talents to our community,” Lane said. “Mrs. Walker's personal involvement and legacy of philanthropy have impacted innumerable lives.”

Formed out of a unique partnership between the University of Arkansas and the city of Fayetteville, Walton Arts Center opened in 1992 as a non-profit organization. Since opening, the population of Northwest Arkansas has more than doubled, and the desire for arts and entertainment has grown. The expansion and renovation will broaden the center’s capacity to meet the needs of the rapid growth and provide outstanding artistic and education services to the community.