The Grand Prairie Arts Council was established in 1964 by local artists, authors, business leaders and educators, to promote the arts in Stuttgart and surrounding counties, and establish a permanent facility with classrooms and exhibit space and hire a director to oversee programs and development. These goals were met with the purchase of the present facility centrally located from the downtown district in 1982.The primary focus has been to promote the arts through education and public involvement by presenting programs, festivals and classes that benefit the entire community and demonstrate the social and economic benefits that the arts provide.
The Grand Prairie Arts Council represents a work force with backgrounds in city government, education, real-estate, and business. These affiliations help target and identify needs within the community for programs, potential funding,volunteers, and staying connected with the community. In addition to service to the Arts Center many of our Board also serve professional, civic and community organizations that all work together within the community.
The center’s first focus is to provide educational programs that are affordable, accessible to the community, and demonstrate the impact that the arts can play in education and local issues. Agriculture and manufacturing represent the majority of the workforce in Stuttgart and is comprised largely of single family households with multiple dependents. Data from the public schools reflect over sixty five percent of the student population qualify and are currently enrolled for reduced and or free meals. Program costs, tuition and ticket prices for events are kept at a minimum. The center also provides scholarships for tuition costs for every program presented. Current programs at the Arts Center include The Grand Prairie Festival of the Arts, The Lions Peace Poster Contest, Summer Art Camp, After School, Weekend Classes and Community Outreach.
Beginning in the fall of 2010 the Arts Center was awarded a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice to address student’s cognitive skills and improve their classroom and social performance using art as the catalyst. The Grand Prairie Arts Initiative now provides after school classes four days a week and summer camp program to over one thousand plus students yearly.
The Grand Prairie Festival of the Arts has grown into a festival with over three hundred plus entries annually and awards to participants totaling over Five Thousand dollars. Sponsorship of this festival includes major funding from The Riceland Foundation/Riceland Foods and the Arkansas Arts Council. The Grand Prairie Festival of the Arts is open to all ages. Visual Arts and Crafts, Photography, Dance presentations, live music, Children’s activities and creative writing has come together for over fifty years plus.
The Lennox Performing Arts Series founded in 2002 in partnership with Lennox Industries allowed many individuals in the community the opportunity to hear a concert violinist, professional singer, choir and or attend with their children a professional children’s theatre. This state recognized concert series closed during the economic struggles a few years ago. Performances and concerts are now held in Stuttgart at the Grand Prairie Center that offers a wide variety of cultural events for the community. The Lennox Performing Arts Series was one of the catalysts for the Grand Prairie Center and is proud to be a partner with the new center.