Sep 3, 2021 - Things to Do

Rogers to unveil plan to amp up arts and culture scene

You can't miss the public art at the new(ish) Railyard Park in downtown Rogers. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Arts and culture coordinator Anna Watson tells Axios that Rogers is on track to finish its roadmap this fall for the future of the city's arts and culture scene.

  • It will then seek city council approval for the plan.

What's happening: The city has been working on a strategic, coordinated effort to jazz up everything — from its live music to culinary offerings.

  • Rogers has spent about a year collecting data and working with focus groups to learn what artists and the community want to see in the coming years, Watson says.

Why it matters: This is a part of a regional push to retain and attract artistic talent and improve the quality of life in NWA.

  • You can expect the city to try out different pilot projects to see what works and doesn't work over the next few years in three main areas: music or performance art; public art (think murals or art installations); and culinary and wellness (like a yoga or bike festival).

Of note: While the city is spearheading the cultural planning, it expects to partner with local organizations and subject matter experts to bring the ideas to life, Watson says.

Context: Rogers is working with CACHE (Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange) to develop the strategy. It's the first time an NWA city has teamed up with the org on long-term cultural planning, program director Kelsey Howard tells Axios.

  • All four of NWA's largest cities, plus Siloam Springs, work with CACHE on smaller-scale projects.
  • CACHE, for example, has curated the Live at Turnbow music events in downtown Springdale and can help facilitate public art murals throughout the region.

The big picture: Howard says CACHE's goal is to serve as a liaison between all the NWA cities to strategically coordinate arts and culture in the region.

  • "There's no reason for each city to figure out these things on their own in a silo. ... We can share that knowledge and make NWA more vibrant and resilient together," Howard said.

1 cool thing: Rogers just hired its first food and wellness program director, Fran Free, who has a background in food and agriculture. The position is part-time.

  • Free's focus will be all things wellness, culinary and food sustainability — like working with local restaurant owners and chefs to make downtown Rogers a food destination.
  • That could involve bringing in food-focused events that aren't "just funnel cake," Free tells Axios.

1 thing you can do: Give your two cents in a survey by Wednesday.


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