Art expansions and women making big moves are all in this month's snapshot of the news worth noting in Little Rock's nonprofits.

AAC + CALS = BFF

2018 was a tumultuous year for the arts in Little Rock. Among the top headlines were the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's announcement that its current season will be the last for music director Philip Mann and the Arkansas Repertory Theater's journey from suspended operations to announcing a new season.

The same is true for the Arkansas Arts Center, whose executive director Todd Herman resigned ahead of the AAC's massive renovation set to break ground later this year. And while it might seem like the perfect time to panic, the AAC is taking it all in stride thanks in part to new relationships with fellow Little Rock organizations.

Early this year, branches of the Central Arkansas Library System will play host to the AAC's diverse collection of works and programming — from sculptures and paintings to lectures and plays — with each installation carefully curated to the environment and mission of the library branch hosting it.

“The partnership is an opportunity to foster greater engagement with CALS and AAC,” CALS deputy executive director of technology and digital innovation Nathan James said. “We can build a community actively involved with both organizations, and more importantly, build relationships and understanding between the people who make central Arkansas such a vibrant place to call home.”

Both organizations hope to continue this newfound friendship after the AAC's projected reopening in 2022.

Big Moves

Laura Grimes (left) recently joined the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock as the new executive director.

The Urban League of Arkansas in Little Rock, an organization dedicated to advancing and obtaining equal opportunities for all in central Arkansas, has appointed Marquita Numan as its new president and CEO.

Save the Date

Downtown Dash
March 30

Hosted by the Junior League of Little Rock, this annual 5K offers a built-in tour of some of the city's most iconic locales.


Diamond Chef Arkansas
April 11

The most delicious showdown around returns to pit the metro's best chefs in a fight to the delectable finish, the title of Diamond Chef Arkansas Champion.

No Small Feat

In 17 short months, Ballet Arkansas has completely reimagined itself, both refining and expanding its productions and forging partnerships with nonprofits throughout the state.

So far this season, the ballet has presented two world premiere productions, both breaking box office records and receiving rave reviews. And according to the BA team, that's just the beginning.

"We are stepping outside of the box and approaching our programming from a fresh perspective," executive and artistic director Michael Fothergill says. "At 40 years young, I think that's just what we need."

Some of BA's crowning achievements of the past 17 months include:

• The venture back into full-length productions with the successful multimedia production of "Dracula" and plans for a full-length "Sleepy Hollow" and "Cinderella" next season

• The presentation of acclaimed works by two Tony Award-winning choreographers with live accompaniment by a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition award winning pianist

• The broadcast of live BA performances into schools, retirement communities and hospitals, most recently into rooms at Arkansas Children's.

• The creation of partnerships that advance the art and study of professional dance with UA-Little Rock's Department of Theatre and Dance and UA-Pulaski Technical College

• The development of the interactive, highly popular Ballet Arkansas Children's Series (Tickets for "Mary Poppins" are on sale now!)

• The launch of the Motion on Main event series at the company's downtown BA headquarters pairing live music and local cuisine with an intimate dance performance

Whether the organization is presenting private, HIPAA-compliant performances for the Centers for Youth and Families or United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, enticing new audiences to experience bold new repertory or creating educational curriculum to launch in school classrooms next year, Ballet Arkansas is on to something, and it's exciting to watch.


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