The next phase of the consulting study will recommend the best location, but everyone at yesterday's meeting and not smoking crack knew what is coming. They've already hinted that a location near the Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Bentonville would be nifty. They will keep the Fayetteville facility open as a substation as long as it isn't too expensive and can pay its own way selling tickets for the table scraps from the larger main facility.
It is about the money. A bond salesman told the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission last week that they could try to refinance the debt on the Town Center for another 25 years and get maybe $5.8 million to spend on the Walton Arts Center. The Northwest Arkansas Times praised Mayor Coody for inviting the bond salesman to the meeting. That leaves only another $175 million left to raise, assuming that there are no "hiccups" or surprise cost overruns, but Executive Director Marilyn Heifner says bond payments and staff salaries are already so high that the A&P Commission doesn't have even $35,000 to support the Fayetteville Arts Festival.
The University of Arkansas is also a founding partner and a principal beneficiary of having the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, but UA Vice Chancellor Don Pederson said he was unsure what the university would choose to do should the center's board opt to move out of
Private money, as always, is what is driving the decision to move the main facility to Benton County. While most people attending performances at the WAC are from Washington County, the business community in Benton County contributes three times the amount of corporate contributions to support the center's operations as received from Washington County. The local Cowbirds have not been of much help to anyone except themselves on this public-private partnership.
So, we did nothing and lost the United Way offices to Benton County. It now looks like the main facilities for the Walton Arts Center will be going north. And tomorrow is the deadline for proposals to the Site Selection Committee of the
Regardless of what happens, don't blame Mayor Coody or the Cowbirds for a failure of community leadership. They might dismiss you as an "extremist" trying "to set the city heading backwards in its development." So just keep quiet and don't even think about requesting a citizen forum to explore possible solutions on the Government Channel. The PTB don't want the opinions or help of ordinary citizens. They know what is best and will take care of it.