Films For The Future: Festival considers community in new shared space

Films For The Future: Festival considers community in new shared space

On May 29, Northwest Arkansans will have a unique opportunity to experience the new outdoor venue Butterfield Stage, located in downtown Rogers, by attending the Better Cities Film Festival. The four-hour film festival will feature several educational films that will “connect people and inspire new ideas through discovering ways to make our community a better place for everyone to live, work and play,” according to a press release from the Urban Land Institute Northwest Arkansas, the sponsor of the event.

According to its website, ULI NWA strives to “provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities throughout the region.”

People visit Railyard Park on Wednesday May 19 2021 in downtown Rogers. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

“The education and research are provided by its members,” says Rikki Manen, director of programs and outreach for ULI NWA. “Urban Land Institute is actually a global organization, and though we’re new to Northwest Arkansas — and are super excited to be here — it’s actually one of the oldest and largest networks of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts. We shape the future of the industry, and we create thriving communities across the globe. We connect all the people who have anything to do with real estate development and anything in the real estate-adjacent world and bring everybody together in the same room.”

The ULI was founded in 1936, in the middle of the Great Depression; today, the organization offers its advisory services to fast-growing areas like Northwest Arkansas, funds research and studies, and strives to educate youth through its UrbanPlan, a curriculum developed by high school economics teachers and land use and real estate professionals. The Northwest Arkansas office of the organization launched in 2016; through a grant from Walton Family Foundation, ULI NWA took 25 elected officials and nonprofit leaders to the ULI fall meeting that same year. More recently, ULI NWA organized a three-day workshop on the future of Fayetteville’s College Avenue in February 2018, hosted an April 2020 webinar on affordable housing, a July 2020 Zoom workshop concerning the development of a Fayetteville police station and are part of the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Coalition.

People visit Railyard Park on Wednesday May 19 2021 in downtown Rogers. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Manen says the film festival is an opportune time for a larger swath of the population to learn more about what the organization does for the community.

“We can bring so many resources to our members that you can’t get by yourself,” she explains. “Because it is a national and global nonprofit, we have access to experts from all across the globe that we can bring to our area. You can hear voices that you might not, typically, have access to.”

The films, she says, are organized around the themes of housing, creative placemaking and micro-mobility. Expert panelists will also be on hand to “talk about the film and how the issues could potentially impact our city and connect the films with an issue that might be right in front of us.”

“ULI NWA recognizes film as a powerful artistic medium,” says the organization’s Northwest Arkansas coordinator, Wes Craiglow. “When great content is about creating great places, we walk away inspired for what we all can do to connect with and improve our own cities and neighborhoods.”

FYI Butterfield First The ULI NWA Better Cities Film Festival will be the first official event at Rogers’ new outdoor venue, Butterfield Stage. The stage offers seating for around 1,000 people and is part of the $6 million re-design of Frisco Park, renamed Railyard Park. Last month, the city council approved a contract with Brian Crowne to organize a concert series called Railyard Live that will run during the summer months. Crowne is vice president of the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers and owner of George’s Majestic Lounge. Rogers Mayor Greg Hines announced at the end of April that the concert series will kick off on June 5, Rogers’ Founders Day, when Hines will dedicate the Rogers 140th anniversary time capsule at 2 p.m. Starting at 5 p.m., the bands Honeyjack and Jukeboxx will perform. The concerts will be free. Hines says the concert series will end in September. (The Free Weekly/Flip Putthoff)


Better Cities Film Festival

WHEN — 4-9 p.m. May 29

WHERE — Butterfield Stage, 101 E. Cherry St. in Railyard Park in Rogers

COST — Free


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