Mar 10, 2022 - News

How Rogers plans to transform itself into a cultural arts hub

Illustration of the Mona Lisa holding a clipboard.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Rogers is serious about focusing on arts and culture to make the city a vibrant place for residents, artists and visitors.

Driving the news: The Rogers City Council approved a comprehensive arts and cultural plan Tuesday night.

Why it matters: A lack of strategic planning creates more work for everyone, Kelsey Howard, program director at Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange (CACHE), tells Axios. Rogers' planning began with hearing from the community about what they wanted to see.

  • CACHE is acting as a regional resource for cities as they look to elevate the arts.

Zoom in: The plan is a self-imposed guide for city staff that outlines specific actions the city may take to encourage arts and culture in both the near- and long-term.

What they're saying: "We want to be the motivating force behind cool stuff," John McCurdy, Rogers community development director, told Axios.

  • McCurdy explained that the city won't necessarily oversee everything on its wishlist, or use taxpayer dollars to fund all of the initiatives. Nonprofit organizations, philanthropists and individuals will likely have a hand in making some of this happen.

Details: The plan focuses on three key areas — public art; music and performing arts; and wellness.

Public art

  • The city wants to create more public art opportunities for artists, develop stronger partnerships with arts institutions throughout NWA and achieve greater integration of arts and artists into public works projects and city facilities.
  • Goals include developing a public art policy in the next year that would establish a process for site selection, procurement and maintenance.
  • Long-term, Rogers wants to host a public arts festival.

Music and performing arts

  • The roadmap includes increasing opportunities for residents interested in the performing arts, creating venue-friendly policies and helping with funding, publicity and partnerships.
  • Within the next couple of years, Rogers wants to pilot an event series focusing on movement, dance and fitness at Butterfield Stage downtown and look into having live music at Railyard Bike Park.
  • In the long run, the city has some ambitious goals, such as developing a performing artist residency program.


  • The overarching priority is to put systems in place that encourage access to exercise and healthy food.
  • Rogers wants to immediately establish a wellness advisory board and conduct a food source inventory to see where there are needs for fresh food.
  • The city also wants to look into expanding the farmers market and trying out a nighttime farmers market, possibly in conjunction with the Railyard Live concert series at Butterfield Stage.

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