The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has announced plans to construct a new Stella Boyle Smith Music Center in East Village, an announcement years in the making.
Set between Heifer International and the Clinton Presidential Center, the 20,000-square-foot center will be a space for the public to enjoy performances and will greatly expand education programming, particularly for the ASO's ever-growing youth services.
Among the designs are multiple practice spaces and classrooms, climate-controlled instrument storage and a grand hall for rehearsals and concerts, as well as a dedicated streaming studio to serve audiences unable to attend performances in person, such as area students and nursing home residents. The ASO will continue to hold its larger concerts at the Robinson Center.
The space will provide a much-needed move for the symphony, which is currently housed on the Diocese of Little Rock campus.
"Right now, hundreds of students and adults come to create, learn and perform music in a building built in 1916 as a nunnery and dining hall," ASO CEO Christina Littlejohn says. "Children must rehearse and practice outside, in the storage room or in offices because of the high demand for music classes and the limited space in ASO’s current facility. Yet, students from all across our state return week after week to inspire and be inspired."
The announcement comes with years of private fundraising underway and 60% of its $9 million goal already obtained. The ASO is now launching a public fundraising campaign to reach the finish line and bring the center to life.
"This project will become an incredible addition to the arts and culture landscape of Arkansas and a vibrant jewel of creativity in Little Rock’s East Village, and it will also be far more than that," says Brigita Gardner, chairperson for the fundraising effort. "This new center is a commitment to serve our communities for generations and marks a significant opportunity for our current community leaders to leave a lasting legacy that ensures every young Arkansan for years to come will have access to music education and all the power that comes with it."