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Increasing Vibrancy in Northwest Arkansas

December 18, 2020
  • Elevating Diverse Voices in Arts & Culture
  • Elevating Diverse Voices in Arts & Culture
  • Preserving the Region’s Natural Beauty
  • Growing Innovation in the Heartland
  • Increasing Vibrancy Through Arts & Culture
  • Increasing High-Quality Options
    Elevating Diverse Voices in Arts & Culture

    Art can set the stage for dialogue between individuals and groups of people, allowing communities to better understand each other and how differences and similarities inform who we are today.

    Over the past five years, the foundation collaborated with Northwest Arkansas organizations to grow art institutions across all sizes, disciplines and areas of focus.

    The movement toward inclusion goes beyond making sure people feel welcomed in existing venues. It is also critical to elevating the voices of diverse artists and supporting efforts to ensure there’s a stage for everyone.

    In addition to strengthening mid-size organizations across the region, part of the effort to support the growth of Northwest Arkansas’ art sector has been building the capacity among emerging, small organizations to create a growth pipeline for the sector. There is also a focus on supporting organizations that serve and are led by underserved communities, like LatinX Theatre Project, the RaVe Cultural Foundation and the Teen Action Support Center. These organizations are not only serving their own communities but offer the entire region a better understanding of different cultures through art and further broadening and diversifying the arts experiences available to all residents.

    Preserving the Region’s Natural Beauty

    Water quality and green space preservation are areas that have seen considerable success. Organizations like the Beaver Watershed Alliance and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership restored 36,965 feet of streambank. The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission preserved 3,100 acres of green space.

    The region pursued a multi-faceted approach to navigate growth and the balance between the built and natural environment. Over the last five years, a community effort created connections that are helping the region thrive.

    Northwest Arkansas launched initiatives that address growth in ways that foster vibrancy and preserve the region’s signature natural beauty. Support of downtowns, active transportation networks and high-quality design all play key roles. Efforts to enhance access to nature, including preserving green space, natural-surface trails, parks and water quality complement this work.

    Growing Innovation in the Heartland

    Efforts to support a culture of entrepreneurship are helping attract talent and startups to the region, stimulating innovation in local industries and ensuring small businesses have resources needed to thrive.

    Over the past two years, the University of Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Council fostered an ecosystem that supports current and aspiring entrepreneurs in their journey to transform ideas into businesses and scale them into promising growth enterprises.

    As the startup scene in the region strengthens, programs such as Endeavor NWA help entrepreneurs scale nationally and globally. The growth of the startup scene is also offering large companies the opportunity to source innovation locally.

    Increasing Vibrancy Through Arts & Culture

    COVID-19 represents a significant threat to many cultural organizations as well as the livelihoods of many within the arts community. There are high levels of uncertainty and unknown elements that will require innovative solutions to ensure the arts community is part of pandemic recovery efforts.

    Arts are critical to a thriving community, and the region aims to become a worldwide cultural leader. In Northwest Arkansas, the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $131.2 million industry—one that supports 4,647 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $14.3 million in local and state government revenue.

    Increasing High-Quality Education Options

    The education landscape in Northwest Arkansas changed considerably over the last five years. Today, there are more school options that are increasingly diverse and offer more innovative programs.

    Like the growth happening in this region and the opportunities available, reliable access to high-quality education options is a defining characteristic of life in Northwest Arkansas. Moving forward, ensuring everyone in the region benefits from these opportunities is a key priority.

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