The Arkansas Arts Center’s board of trustees yesterday adopted its FY 2019 budget of $7.3 million, a $600,000 increase over the current fiscal year and the biggest budget since 2010.

FY 2019 will be the last “business as usual” budget, treasurer Robert Burnette reported to the board, since the Arts Center will close in September 2019 for its $70 million renovation and new construction.


The Arts Center is already working on logistics for 2020 — such as where to office its 50 full-time employees (some of which may be able to work from home) and where its Children’s Theatre and Museum School classes will be held, Director Todd Herman reported. He said the Arts Center is close to completing a deal on where to store the 15,000 artworks in its collection. Herman said arts institutions in Central Arkansas have shown great interest to work with the Arts Center.

The Arts Center management had once contemplated trying to keep a portion of the Arts Center open during the work to renovate and expand, but that proved to be problematic and expensive. The new Arts Center, which is still in the schematic design phase, is to open in 2022.


Trustees also voted to nominate Rose Firm lawyer Paul Parnell to the board. The City Board of Directors will vote on the nomination.

In 2010, a $7.8 million budget was wrecked by lower than expected income (thanks to an exhibition bust and the failure of a trustee to come through with a huge gift) and higher than expected expenses, leaving it with a shortfall of $2 million. The Arts Center has budgeted frugally every since to come up with slight operating surpluses, and the FY 2019 budget will be the first over $7 million since the 2010 debacle.


Curator Brian Lang also announced new acquisitions and upcoming shows that will take the Arts Center through September 2019. The shows include exhibitions of jewelry by Australian goldsmith Robert Baines, who casts using Bronze age metallurgic technique; modernist art from the collection of San Francisco gallery owner Martin Muller; the 50th annual Collectors Show; photographs of Frida Kahlo; and drawings by Andy Warhol. The 61st Delta Exhibition will be the final show.