Springdale Arts Organization Rebrands with Focus on Diversity

Arts One Presents will host its first theatrical production of the year this spring.

colorful paintings for a Día de los Muertos exhibition hang on a white wall
Arts One Presents hosted a Día de los Muertos exhibition in November 2021. Photo courtesy of Meredith Mashburn.

Like many arts organizations, the Arts Center of the Ozarks halted theatrical performances at the start of the pandemic. The pause gave the Springdale nonprofit time to think about the organization’s future and out of those discussions came a rebranding effort and a new name — Arts One Presents. The organization will present its first theatrical performance under its new name next month.

“As organizations, as people in general, we’re all evolving,” executive director Anne Jackson said. “We’re all evolving all the time and this organization is not a stranger to evolution. And for over 55 years it has evolved multiple times and this is one more chapter in its story.”

Since 1966, the nonprofit has served the Northwest Arkansas region by providing theater productions, musical performances and visual arts education. For years, ACO occupied a large building with a theatre and art galleries located near the intersection of S. Main Street and Grove Ave. 

ACO sold the building to the Tyson Family Foundation with the intention that it would continue to be used by arts organizations so in September 2020, ownership and management of the building transitioned to the Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE) staff.

Arts One Presents now shares office space with the Downtown Springdale Alliance and plans to take the arts into the community by hosting performances and exhibitions in locations throughout the region. For example, Arts One Presents curated a Día de los Muertos art exhibition that was on display at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in November 2021.

Because of the strong connection between ACO and its former building, Jackson says it was important to rebrand and change the nonprofit’s name “for people to see the organization as the people instead of just a place.” 

A component of the rebranding effort also includes focusing on offering events to engage diverse communities. Artist David Gomez took over as program manager of visual arts in July 2021 and says when considering programming and opportunities offered to artists, they’re taking a holistic view of the artists and their work.

“One of the things that we want to make sure is that the story of the artists that we’re bringing resonates to the DNA of the community,” Gomez says.

Springdale is one of the most diverse cities in the region with nearly 38 percent of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census. The city is also home to a large population of Marshallese residents.

As an artist himself, Gomez says he wants Arts One Presents programming to be something that he would be looking for.

“I would like for some organization that reaches out to people like me and that has opportunities and that are thinking of the artist and how their program can benefit them and help them grow,” he says.  

A recurring challenge for young artists is that projects often require applicants to demonstrate certain skills or a specific number of projects. That can close the door on emerging artists in smaller communities, so Arts One Presents plans to overcome that challenge by providing opportunities for young artists to grow with the projects they’re pursuing. That growth can help take artists to the next level of their career, Jackson says.

“We want the artists here to feel that the community is supportive of them, that they don’t have to just go elsewhere in order to show their work,” she says.

In the coming months, Gomez says they’ll be installing a “larger-than-life exhibit” in downtown Springdale created by crochet artist Gina Gallina. He’s also working with an internationally-renowned artist based in Northwest Arkansas to create “something so, so amazing.”

“The reason that we’re real excited is not just because of the scope and size, but because the message and the story, it just so well embraces everything that we’re looking at conveying with the program,” Gomez says.

In addition to visual arts, Arts One Presents will offer performing arts programming this year, starting with a contemporary take on Romeo and Juliet that debuts this spring at Likewise in Fayetteville. Teen Dad, written by University of Arkansas graduate student Adrienne Dawes, will be performed in May and this year’s summer musical is The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

More information about the season and other programming is available at www.artsonepresents.org.

Editor’s note: This story has been update to reflect the postponement of Arts One Presents production of “Romeo and Juliet,” which was originally scheduled to premiere Feb. 10.

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is an Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts for NPR affiliates as well as print and digital publications since 2007.