Trike Theatre, Arkansas Philharmonic announce merger at gala Sept. 30

Trike Theatre, Arkansas Philharmonic announce merger at gala Sept. 30

Trike Theatre and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra were both happy being single. They both had full lives — performance programs, training programs for youngsters and outreach programs in schools.

But once they began to contemplate “marriage,” it made so much sense, says Paul Savas, executive director of the newly merged organization. A party Sept. 30 at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville will celebrate the joint venture with music by the APO Big Band, food, beverages and fundraising, along with revealing the new name and introducing the new organization’s leaders.

“APO and Trike have had a wonderful working relationship for many years,” says Savas, who joined Trike in 2017. “Just before covid, we began to discuss how we might share resources, more formal ways to help stretch the dollar. As both are not-for-profit organizations relying on charitable donations to maintain community impact, making the dollar stretch further is of vital importance and just sensible stewardship of our community’s support.”

Paul Savas

The Walton Family Foundation suggested and underwrote the hiring of a consultant to “investigate if a formal relationship was an idea supported by both organizations, their staff board and other stakeholders, and if so what form it would take,” Savas says. “The answer was clear: a formal relationship was highly valued and sought and of the potential ways to work together — that we weren’t already doing — a formal legal merger was the most attractive to all participants. And so here we are!”

Savas adds that coming together was “so very easy, as the values of both organizations aligned seamlessly.” But, he explains, so did the kind of work both organizations have been doing.

APO, he explains, had its concerts, its Youth Orchestra and its Link Up Program in schools.

Trike had its professional productions intended for young audiences, its academy for kids to create theater themselves and its outreach programming in schools.

Each had their own strengths that they could share with each other, places where “the puzzle pieces fit perfectly,” Savas says. And they both had the need for a director of development, a position that couldn’t really be shared unless the organizations went beyond “dating.” Savas says they even considered creating a third organization to support the business side of both companies, but eventually decided merger made more sense. Then it was just a question of aligning staffs.

“All the faces the community has come to know as APO and Trike will be there,” Savas promises. Jason Miller, former executive director for APO, will remain as event planner and development consultant. Trike founder Kassie Misiewicz is leading growth of education programs as chief education and outreach officer. Maestro Steven Byess will be artistic director for the orchestra. And a new artistic director for the theater will come on board.

“We are still doing theater classes and camps, the Youth Orchestra, Evenings with the Maestro, performances for the very young, anchor concerts, residencies in schools, new plays and surprising performances,” Savas promises. “It’s important for the community to know that these brands and the programs/events they bring to the community are not going anywhere. They’re just going to get better!”

The new organization will be housed at Trike’s home, 902 S.W. Second St., Suite F, in Bentonville, Savas says, and will continue to use other spaces like Thaden School and Walton Arts Center for bigger performances. Future plans include adding dance to the curriculum, investing in training teaching artists to grow in-school programming and maybe, just maybe, a new facility to call home.

“The best scenario would be a new big house for everybody to live in,” Savas says, sticking with the marriage theme. “Scheduling that space would be a welcome challenge, but we do know a certain retailer in town is moving to a new campus and, gosh, it would be nice to have some of that real estate that isn’t already spoken for.”


‘Harmonious Blend’:

An Evening Uniting the Arts

WHEN — 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30

WHERE — 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville

COST — $100 through Sept. 27


Categories: In The News