A ceremony was held Friday to break ground on Northwest Arkansas’ first dedicated, permanent home for its professional theatre company.
The event, held in the late afternoon in Fayetteville, kicked off the public launch of the Our Next Stage Campaign. The $34 million campaign is an effort to fully fund construction and establish an artistic, operating and education reserve for the theatre. TheatreSquared on Friday announced its raised about $21 million so far.
Construction on the region’s 50,000 square-foot, two-venue facility, designed by international design award recipients Marvel Architects and Charcoalblue, will begin immediately and continue through 2019. The new theatre will be located at 477 W. Spring St.
The public phase of the Our Next Stage Campaign will be led by a committee of volunteer civic leaders, including Ted Belden, Leslie Belden, Kirk Thompson, Brett Burch, Joel Carver, Lynn Carver, Carolyn Cole, Nick Cole, Denise Garner, Hershey Garner, Susan Hall, Orville Hall, Greg Lee, Hannah Lee, Scott Price, Shizuko Price, Margaret Rutherford, Dick Rutherford, Judy Schwab, Bill Schwab, Todd Simmons, Shelley Simmons, Tod Yeslow, Jackie Telfair and Jenifer Tucker.
TheatreSquared’s home will unite two state-of-the-art theatres, the company’s first dedicated rehearsal space, staff offices, education and community space, on-site design and building workshops, eight dedicated guest artist apartments and outdoor public spaces at three levels. There will also be an open-all-day café/bar.
Plans for Northwest Arkansas’ permanent regional theatre began to take form in 2015, when a special community task force recommended launching an exploratory process toward building a new home for TheatreSquared. TheatreSquared that fall won an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and was selected as an inaugural participant in the Walton Family Foundation’s Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program. The program provides financial support to develop space for public purposes, with funds earmarked for all phases of design work.
In 2016, the Fayetteville City Council voted to approve a 100-year lease on a downtown site directly across from the theatre’s current venue at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios. The site is steps from Dickson Street and not far from the Fayetteville Public Library, the downtown Square, and the University of Arkansas campus.
In 2017, the Fayetteville City Council responded to a $12.5 million commitment from the Walton Family Foundation with a $3.1 million commitment toward the project, followed by a $3 million commitment from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission.
TheatreSquared created a detailed website with design images and the TheatreSquared backstory.