Walton Arts Center officials held a ground-breaking ceremony today celebrating the $23 million expansion and renovation of Walton Arts Center. The groundbreaking kicks off the closing of Walton Arts Center beginning July 1. Walton Arts Center will re-open in November for a full season of programs while construction continues until the scheduled completion in November of 2016. Walton Arts Center has raised over $20.5 million to date or 89% of the $23 million goal and encourages the public to join them and to help complete the fundraising goal.

The Investing in our Future: The Expansion of Walton Arts Center capital campaign will add 30,000 square feet of space; including a new and expanded atrium that connects to Dickson Street, significant renovations and expansion of Starr Theater, expanded space for back of house technical and theatrical equipment and new administrative offices for Walton Arts Center staff. These enhancements will modernize the facility and create a destination for more arts, education programs, special events and community gatherings.

“This is a historic day in the life of Walton Arts Center. The expansion of Walton Arts Center will transform the relationship between Walton Arts Center patrons, artists and children while helping to dramatically impact Dickson Street and the entertainment district,” said Peter B. Lane, president and CEO of Walton Arts Center. "We will continue to bring great performing artists and entertainers from around the world and the expansion and renovation will allow us to continue to build upon that success.”

"For nearly three decades, Walton Arts Center has played an important role in the community,” said Greg Lee, chairman of Walton Arts Center Council. “Walton Arts Center has been a leader in arts education for our schools and school children, an economic driver for all of Northwest Arkansas and a key part of the quality of life amenities that serves as a recruiting tool for companies in our community. We expect this campaign to increase support for Walton Arts Center and serve even more members of our community.”

It was also announced today the Helen R. Walton Distinguished Achievement Award was awarded to Pat Walker, an individual whose outstanding service, support and leadership has had a significant impact on bringing the communities of Northwest Arkansas together in support of the arts and the culture life of our community. “Pat Walker shares the generosity and philanthropic vision of Helen Walton, pledging her time and talents to our community,” said Lane. “Mrs. Walkers’ personal involvement and legacy of philanthropy have impacted innumerable lives.”

Immediately following the ceremony, a virtual tour of the new facility was shown during a reception in Starr Theater.

Formed out of a unique partnership between the University of Arkansas and the City of Fayetteville, Walton Arts Center opened in 1992 as a non-profit organization. Since opening its doors, the population of Northwest Arkansas has more than doubled, and the desire for arts and entertainment has grown correspondingly. The expansion and renovation will broaden our capacity to meet the needs of the rapid growth and provide outstanding artistic and education services to the community.

The public is invited to learn more about Investing in Our Future: The Expansion of Walton Arts Center at Walton Arts Center

To learn more about Walton Arts Center, contact Erin Rogers at 479.571.2762.