Daddy Warbucks

The Walton Arts Center
Will is stay or follow the money trail?

Daddy W has long known that the Benton County art contingent has always had the big checkbook when it came to ruling the Walton Arts Center. The name itself, Walton Arts Center, speaks Benton County loud and clear.

Supposedly one reason the Walton family gave the seed money to build the art center was because a bigger venue was needed to hold the annual Wal-Mart Shareholders meeting. But by the time it was all said and done, it was too small. It never saw a shareholders session, which are now in the Bud Walton Arena on the UA campus- again that family name.

The art center has always been less that ideal. The 1,200 seat main auditorium doesn’t have a center aisle. Getting to those center seats requires tripping over a 100 sets of toes. And ever since it opened, there have been quiet battles over controversial shows like “Rent” and “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” and even some of the selections of the North Arkansas Symphony. Apparently some of the big money patrons turned up the heat to dictate programming. And like all patron-led arts institutions, sometimes cutting edge programs played to less than full audiences.

The cry is that a bigger facility needs to be built because some shows are sold out and those $40, $50 and $60 a seat tickets are just too pricey for the college crowd. The once popular discount ticket program is all but gone. The programming, does reach out to area schools, but doesn’t reach the middle class community at large. Too expensive. Give us a break.

The WAC needs more parking, too. The big question is: Is there room on Dickson Street? The mayor says there is. So, where do we go from here?

The price of oil, at this writing has topped $130 a barrel. No signs of slowing, no signs of relief. SUV’s and big pick-em-up trucks are filling up the Buy-Here, Pay-Here lots all over NWA.

The recent crane boom in Fayetteville is almost over, except for one. The one at Underwood’s project is about done and the one at the Methodist Church has served. The one that’s been up the longest is still up and nonperforming in the big hole and mosquito pit in downtown. Will we ever see that big hotel? Is the penalty money from the developers still being paid to the city? No one seems to ask anymore.

Well it’s really not, but some like to call the Walton Arts Center a small albatross—too big for some things and too small for others. Will the WAC do like old time bank robbers and follow the money to Benton County?

Well maybe so, but fewer planes will soon be flying in and out of XNA as airlines trim flights to smaller airports, even busy smaller airports. Watch for the planes to be crowded beyond imagination during summer travel and football season. Why fewer planes? Another result of high fuel prices. Travelers will be helping pay for the higher fuel cost with added surcharges.

Well, maybe not. First Mayor Coody says he’s out of the upcoming mayor’s race, then says maybe not, and he’s now back to “no” again. He’s got a lot left to do, he hints. So what will Dan do? We shall watch and see. If more candidates drop out, wavering Dan may offer himself up again.


Looks like Meaux Dad’s is stepping up its efforts to put more folks in the doors. Already a business card discount coupon has circulated for discount on appetizers and now a big ad campaign for deeper discounts. Can this be the recession?


Daddy W. heard that the speed tables on Rolling Hills Drive are gone. Good riddance. But slow down folks, slow down. When is the city going to either shave off those humps or lower the speed limit? They’re just not right.

Bill Ramsey, CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber decided to back off a rumored run for mayor. Looks like the business community might be having trouble fielding their candidate this election cycle.

A new restaurant tenant recently moved into the Old Frisco Depot on Dickson Street. Good luck. The old Depot, which sat empty for years, has had some tenants, but sadly, no parking of its own.

There were lots of leaping dogs and kids when Ultrasuede opened the free Gulley Park summer concert series. The Gulley Park concerts are one of the best get-togethers in the city, next only to the Farmer’s Market.


The developers of the old Mr. Tux building on Dickson Street have cleaned up the property and fenced off all kinds of free parking. Will the nine-story condo project be built? Looks doubtful…IN A SINGLE BOUND.

Categories: Features