Giving Fort Smith the (Arc)Best of the Arts
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Twelve tickets away from their first sold out show, the ArcBest Performing Arts Center is back in gear after the pandemic shutdown. With new management from Oak Valley Group Facilities (OVG) and a new theatre director, live entertainment is returning to the Fort Smith area.
This 1,331-seat grand theatre was built in 1966. Fully equipped with a lighting, sound, and fly system, this space has housed concerts, stand-up, musicals, ballet, and more. ArcBest Theatre Director Logan Sloan reminisced about his experiences seeing the Nutcracker and Rock of Ages there; that stage was where he had his first scenic design come to life from a sketch on a page.
The pandemic devastated the live entertainment industry worldwide, not just here in the River Valley. According to Forbes Magazine, the global theatrical entertainment revenue dropped from $42.3 billion to $12 billion, and it is still recovering from it. “I think Covid made people hungry. We used to be content watching bootlegs or videos online instead of paying to see it live, but the pandemic showed us how quickly those things disappear,” says Sloan.
With a new coat of paint, fresh eyes, and rekindled passions, the ArcBest Performing Arts Center is prepared to feed these hungry citizens with upcoming shows like Leanne Morgan, Mannheim Steamroller, Clint Black, and Our Planet: The Netflix Live Documentary.
However, trying to fill seats is not the main objective of this revamp. Sloan says that there is a future goal of partnering with the local arts organizations in the area like Community School of the Arts, Young Actors Guild, UAFS Music and Theatre, and others in order to eventually craft a season that reflects the community of Fort Smith.
Over half a decade of artistry has saturated the streets of downtown, influencing its culture, economy, education. When asked what he hopes audience members take from the theatre when they leave, Sloan quotes PT Barnum: “The noblest of art is that of making others happy.” The entertainment, staff, and crew at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center spend their days making sure they can do just that.
For information about future events, visit fortsmithconventioncenter.org/events.
Adgate, B. (2021, April 13). The impact COVID-19 had on the entertainment industry in 2020. Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2021/04/13/the-impact-covid-19-had-on-the-entertainment-industry-in-2020/?sh=75e86f35250f