“Great cities have great arts and great arts institutions, and Little Rock is ahead of many cities of its size,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman, and he’s hoping to take it a step further.
To do that, the Committee for Arts and History today, Jan. 5, launched a campaign asking Little Rock residents to vote for a bond issue for improvements to the museum.
The bond issue of up to $37.5 million is backed by a 2-percent increase in the city of Little Rock’s hotel bed tax for out-of-town visitors that was approved by the Little Rock Board of Directors in December.
A special election will be held Feb. 9 for Little Rock residents to vote on the bond measure. Early voting starts Feb. 2.
Herman said, if approved, the funds would help keep the Arts Center accredited and provide updates and renovations to the more than 50-year-old museum.
“We need a facility that reflects the art inside of it,” he said at the kickoff. “This is an opportunity to rally the troops, get the community involved, and position the Arts Center for the next 50 years.”
While most of the revenue from the bond issue would go to the Arts Center, some would also be earmarked for the 175-year-old MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and MacArthur Park, addressing landscaping and drainage issues in the park and renovations to the military museum.
A vote for the measure would help establish partnerships between public funding and private donations that would expand and enhance the museums and the park that houses them, said committee chairman Gary Smith.
Smith told AMP after the event that the committee would be conducting telephone calls and sending out direct mailings ahead of the special election to keep voters informed.
“If we’re going to have a first-class city and grow as a city, this is most important,” he said.