National NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman visits Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Joy Pennington, Rocco Landesman, Beth Wiedower, Bob Hupp and Warwick Sabin, NEA "Creative Placemaking" panel. Photo by Shelby Brewer, Arkansas Arts Council

Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Oxford American Magazine hosted a panel with the National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, Rocco Landesman on “Creative Placemaking in Arkansas.” Arkansas First Lady, Ginger Beebe welcomed the crowd with opening remarks and Arkansas Arts Council Executive Director Joy Pennington moderated the panel.

Chairman Landesman was joined by The Rep’s Producing Artistic Director, Bob Hupp,  Director of the Arkansas Delta Rural Heritage Development Initiative, Beth Wiedower and Publisher of the Oxford American magazine, Warwick Sabin.

The panel focused on the importance of the creative placemaking and the power of the arts in economic development . “Our role at the NEA is to bring the world of the arts and the ‘real world’ together,” said Chairman Landesman.  “The arts is an ecosystem. The arts not only employee the artisans, it employees the restaurant owner down the street.”

“Since the completion of our 6 million dollar Capital Campaign, Arkansas Repertory Theatre has been an urban pioneer for the economic development of Downtown Little Rock,” said Hupp.  “We would love to have some company.”

Chairman Landesman encouraged “arts organizations to get out into their community.” By creating a community steeped in the arts “communities are more involved through civic engagement, ” said Landesman.

Hupp discussed the innovative ways The Rep brings the arts to Arkansans. “Our Shakespeare in the Park program takes place where are Arkansans are comfortable, their state parks. By bringing the arts to our audience we are breaking down barriers and creating a unique experience with our audience.”

The panel also touched on the importance of technology to promote the arts. “Websites help create a forum of dialogue among our rural communities in the Delta. These artists become resources for one another,” said Wiedower.

“The Oxford American occupies a niche-we protect and perpetuate the best of the Southern Culture,” said Sabin. From Southern musicians to writers to the culinary arts, Oxford American will “leverage the use of technology to broadcast our cultural significance around the world” using pod casts and programming on PBS.

For more photos from the panel click here.


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