Business Owners Applaud Growth of Dickson's Diva

by Serenah McKay  on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 9:33 am  

The expansion not only will allow the WAC to bring in bigger shows like touring Broadway musicals, she said, but also will free up the Starr Theater for other events.

The additional meeting and event space would be a boon for event planners like Amy Bates, owner of Bates Events Inc. She said there’s currently no event space in Fayetteville that can accommodate more than 150 people.

Bates said she was called on to talk with consultants on the WAC project, and told them she could have booked about $100,000 worth of large events in Fayetteville between August 2011 and the end of this year had there been space available.

Instead, she had to book these events elsewhere. These included several high-end wedding receptions, vendor parties and meetings, two conferences and several private events, she said.

Trotter said the vision for the arts center expansion includes a new main lobby large enough to accommodate crowds for major events, with amenities like more concessions space and more restrooms. A covered outdoor plaza will connect the building with Dickson Street, and new special-events spaces will be created there.

The Starr Theater renovations will increase seating capacity from 165 to 250, with a flexible design that can meet varying performance and event space needs. Backstage improvements will include a catering kitchen, as well as new dressing rooms, more storage space for instruments and stage sets, more production offices and a maintenance shop.

Outdoors, the Rosen Memorial Rose Garden and Bradberry Amphitheater will be reconfigured to add event space, with access from the new lobby to the garden and the option of covering the garden for events.

Lastly, the WAC’s administrative offices will be enlarged to house a growing staff and add conference room and office support space.

But these aren’t the only expansion plans the WAC organization has in the works.

Construction is expected to start next fall on renovations to the Old Field House on the UA campus, transforming it into a 650-seat performance hall.

And looking farther out, a performing arts center will be built in Bentonville, at a location that has yet to be determined. Trotter said that’s not expected to come online until at least 2018.




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