Walton Arts Center officials announced a $2 million grant Wednesday (Oct. 19) from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.
The donation will go toward the WAC’s $23 million fundraising campaign to add 30,000 square feet, which includes a new and expanded atrium lobby that connects to Dickson Street, significant renovations and expansion of Starr Theater, increased space for back of the house technical and theatrical equipment and new administrative offices.
“The Walker Foundation is proud of its support of Walton Arts Center,” Executive Director Mandy Macke said in a news release. “We are excited to help with this latest project to increase community access to the arts, special events, gatherings and educational programming for years to come. We look forward to seeing families and patrons enjoying their shared experiences in this beautiful new community space.”
This gift from the Walker Foundation meets and exceeds the campaign’s $23 million goal, according to the release, which will allow the original expansion plan to include additional technical upgrades for the facility.
A grand re-opening event is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 19.
In recognition of the gift, the new atrium will be named the Walker Atrium, a key part of the expansion that WAC officials say will transform the patron experience.
“Naming this space after Willard and Pat Walker will honor the Walker’s long-lasting support and investment in enhancing the quality of life and access to the arts throughout Northwest Arkansas,” Walton Arts Center President and CEO Peter B. Lane said in the release. “Since opening our doors, the Walker family has generously supported Walton Arts Center and the Foundation’s participation in this capital campaign represents trust in our future and the future of the performing arts.
“The Walker Atrium will be a destination for guests and will transform Dickson Street with its new expansive glass windows and chandelier. We wanted the arts center to interact more with Dickson Street and the Walker Atrium will be a beautiful space to enjoy in the heart of Fayetteville.”