The Walton Arts Center Council approved plans to build a mid-sized, permanent outdoor amphitheater that will attract headlining artists and bigger audiences to Northwest Arkansas. As part of a multi-campus expansion to grow arts and entertainment in the region, the new venue will serve as a major stop for big touring concerts in the MidSouth, competing with markets like Dallas, Tulsa and Kansas City.
Officials expect construction to begin August 2013 with the goal of opening the new venue by summer 2014. With 91 percent of funding already pledged toward the $11 million project and a generous land donation from Hunt Ventures, Inc. at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, WAC staff and board can focus the fundraising and planning for Walton Arts Center’s Dickson Street campus expansion.
Growth of the AMP
The temporary site at the Washington County Fairgrounds has served as a springboard for larger stage set-ups and expanded programming. During the 2012 season, the AMP presented bands like Big Gigantic, Five Finger Death Punch, Miranda Lambert, Hank Williams Jr. and the Avett Brothers. This represents a diverse variety of music with a mix headliners and mid-tier artists of all genres, which yielded a 200 percent increase in ticket sales and 93 percent increase in audience attendance.
Peter Lane, President/CEO, Walton Arts Center says, “With last year’s success, we also had weather-related and logistical challenges related to operating at a temporary site. But we are proud of the growth and excited about the possibilities of a permanent amphitheater on a site specifically dedicated to outdoor music!”Lane adds, “Patrons and artists deserve a quality experience including a permanent pavilion that minimizes the risk of show cancellations due to weather; amenities like easy access in and out of the venue, comfortable seats, air-conditioned restrooms and upgraded sound and video capabilities. We will look forward to serving the growing demand in Northwest Arkansas and providing a summer destination for traveling music-lovers, whom we know spend about $36 on top of the price of a ticket, positively contributing to the growth of our local economy.”
Search for a Permanent Site
Walton Arts Center purchased the AMP in February 2011 with the goal of expanding the venue to serve a broader and more diverse audience. The AMP has been operating at the Washington County Fairgrounds since moving from the NWA Mall in 2012. After a record-breaking season in 2012, it became clear that a permanent and dedicated site was needed to sustain a profitable business model and meet the growing need for arts and entertainment in the region. Over the last year, Walton Arts Center officials have met with municipalities and developers all over the region, including in Fayetteville and Springdale, to search for a new location. Not only does the Pinnacle Hills site have every characteristic for a permanent venue including proximity to I-540, multiple access points, ample parking and a supporting infrastructure, but it also includes a generous land donation from Hunt Ventures, Inc.
A New AMP Experience
The Pinnacle Hills location is ideal for a regional outdoor amphitheater with visibility from I-540 and central location in a commercial district with restaurants, shopping outlets and hotel accommodations.
The AMP will remain at the Washington County Fairgrounds through the end of the summer. For the most current information about the AMP and the 2013 line-up, visit www.arkansasmusicpavilion.com