Springdale-based nonprofit Arts Center of the Ozarks recently rebranded to Arts One Presents after the 2020 sale of its venue. The organization looks to build on its programming not only for performing but also for visual arts.
Over the past 55 years, the nonprofit has evolved since its inception as the Springdale Music Club. Before the pandemic, it primarily operated as a community theater and hosted art gallery shows, said Anne Jackson, executive director of Arts One Presents.
The pandemic led the venue to close, and it was sold, Jackson said, noting that an organization of its size typically would not own a venue of its size. In September 2020, the nonprofit sold its 25,000-square-foot venue to Grove Arts, an affiliate of the Tyson Family Foundation, for $1.8 million.
“The sale of the building allowed the ACO reimagine itself as an organization and see how we could also better serve the community with community theater and the visual arts,” Jackson said.
The nonprofit looked to determine how it could fill some of the area gaps in the arts. Jackson said the lack of a venue allowed it to look beyond one space and broaden what it could do and the audience it could reach.
“We rebranded as well because the Arts Center of the Ozarks has no center anymore,” she added. “We wanted the name to reflect what the mission became.”
The mission is similar with a focus on accessibility and inclusion with the arts, said Jackson, adding that she expects to continue to host quality performances while expanding on their diversity and originality. Also, the performances will offer an inclusive environment for performers and audiences, she noted.
The nonprofit will continue to host about three shows annually, including two musicals and a play.
“What sets us apart would be that real intentionality of show selection and what we’re trying to do with it,” she explained. “For instance, our summer musical for 2022 will be ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame.’ We want to entertain people. That is a name recognition show as well. We want it to be family-friendly, but it also talks a lot about and has a main character with a disability.”
She said the nonprofit plans to work with area organizations that work with people with disabilities and to have an accessible show.
“We’re looking at shows that go beyond the breadth of entertainment…We want it to have a community impact,” Jackson said. “We’re looking at storylines, stories that include certain diverse audiences.”
This spring, it will host the play “Teen Dad,” written by Adrienne Dawes, a Northwest Arkansas writer and producer. Dawes teaches playwriting and is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas.
“We want to take advantage of the fact that we have such amazing talent right here and how do we utilize that talent,” she said.
Arts One Presents plans to host shows at venues throughout Northwest Arkansas and might host performances at its former venue.
The nonprofit also is developing its visual arts programming and looks to show the talent of area artists.
“We want Northwest Arkansas and our region to be known for the artists that we have right here in our community,” she said. “We don’t necessarily have as much of a lack of access to the visual arts as we used to, thanks to Crystal Bridges and some of the trickledown effect of other organizations that have come up through the past 10 years or so.”
Jackson, who worked in development and advancement at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, was appointed executive director of Arts One Presents earlier this year after working for the board as a consultant.
She said the organization has no existing plans to own a venue and will focus on developing its programming for the first year or two.
“We will look to be the go-to arts organization if you want to work with a local artist to have something unique within your business, outside your business,” she said. “How can we help you with that strategy through the arts.”
Arts One Presents has three employees.