Springdale arts center needs $1 million in repairs

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 101 views 

SPRINGDALE — The Arts Center of the Ozarks is in the final weeks of a capital fundraising campaign, and it needs every $1 — or $1,000 — it can get by June 30 so matching funds can be applied to the project.

The ACO needs more than $1 million for a laundry list of long-overdue improvements. Officials are looking to replace failing mechanical systems, repair leaking roofs and refurbish interior spaces. Ramshackle warehouses need to be razed to create more parking and additional green space. The center itself needs a new exterior, thus the name of the project, the ReVitalization Project.

And they’d like to get it done before work starts on Springdale’s new trail plan. The trail head is to be built one block from the arts center, which sits at the corner of Grove Avenue and South Main Street. Residents identify the building by the faded mural on the side.

ACO is Northwest Arkansas’ oldest arts center. Just because administrators Kathi and Harry Blundell don't own the building doesn’t mean they don’t call it home. They came to the then-fledgling organization in 1975, raising the level of the visual and performance arts in the area. Now entering its 46th season, the place needs a facelift. It’s been 20 years since it’s had any major work.

The Re-Vitalization will be been made possible by a grant from the Walker Family Foundation and two matching grants from the Walton Family Foundation. But ACO has to raise another $120,000 on its own; it has no long-term endowment from which to draw.

They have to pay for everything, from cutting the lawn to a new exterior.

“Every dollar we raise is because people want us here and we are important to them,” Blundell says.

Near the top of the “must-do” list — replacing the old heating and air conditioning system, which is at least 20 years old.

Board member Lynn Carver ticks off the the center’s many  other needs: a stage curtain, new lighting, new sound system. A number of broken theater chairs need to be repairs, as well.
“We want both the exterior and interior to be reflective of the new energy in the ACO,” Carver says.

The laid-back arts center with patrons from 8 to 80 is “come as you are kind of place,” describes Kathi Blundell.

“Once people come through the doors, whether it is a class or to see a production or participate, they usually come back.”