Top 5 cultural stories — No. 3: Fort Smith Art Center/Arvest donation

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 31 views 

Editor’s note: With the days, weeks and months seemingly passing faster than ever, it can be difficult to remember what happened yesterday much less the past six months. To that end, The City Wire will review the top 5 Fort Smith regional stories of the first half of 2009 in the following categories: Business/economy, political, and cultural. Link here for the top business stories, and link here for the top political stories (the list of stories are at the bottom of each linked story).

A $2 million fundraising campaign for The Fort Smith Art Center was built around the donation of a new building by Arvest Bank of Fort Smith.

Arvest Bank donated a former branch back facility — acquired in its $211 million purchase of Superior Federal Bank in late 2003 — at 1601 Rogers Ave. to the Fort Smith Art Center so that center officials can expand their space to exhibit art, photos and provide other services.

Announced in January, the donation was contingent upon art center officials raising $200,000 by June 1. By late May, the art center had received donations and pledges in excess of $225,000 according to art center officials.

On July 14, John Womack and Craig Rivaldo with Arvest Bank of Fort Smith signed the deed over to the art center in a ceremony held at the new Emmy’s Restaurant in Fort Smith (formerly The Hall at Taliano’s).

Since 1960, the FSAC has been housed at the Vaughn-Schaap house in the Belle Grove Historic District in downtown Fort Smith.

“(T)he building is inadequate for our needs,” said Art Center Director Teresa Carver said. “We battle temperature and humidity problems, ongoing maintenance costs, and limited exhibit space.

The 15,000-square-foot building will require renovations estimated at about $2 million, which will be raised in a capital campaign. Galen Hunter, the architect of the original building, is the architect for the renovation.

A large expense with the renovation is in installing a modern humidity and temperature control system, according to art center officials. Precise control of environmental conditions is required before other museums will allow the center to host traveling exhibits.

In addition to extra space for art exhibits, the renovated building will house a coffee shop, expanded gift gallery, classrooms and library.

With the sale of the existing art center facility in the Belle Grove District, which is scheduled for July 2009, the capital campaign will top $500,000. This amount is 25% of the total amount being raised, according to art center officials.

No. 5 — John Bell/UAFS painting
No. 4 — Elvis haircut anniversary