Performing in front of a crowd without a script could be the stuff of nightmares. But in Fayetteville, Arkansas, improvisation is part of the group travel fun.
Fayetteville’s TheatreSquared has removed the terror from the experience and replaced it with fun. The local production company hosts improv workshops for groups that end with a lot of laughs.
The hometown of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is the state’s third-largest city. Groups love visiting this northwest Arkansas gem for its welcoming locals, nature parks and Fayetteville Ale Trail.
Art has long been close to the heart of this college town. Fayetteville is only a few miles from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and holds several brag-worthy art attractions itself. The city offers groups Broadway productions, theater workshops, glassblowing demonstrations and interactive art galleries.
Fayetteville invites groups to admire and connect with art at these four attractions.
Groups can unleash their inner creativity with an improv workshop at TheatreSquared. The class works well for participants with no acting experience by explaining how scene building and conquering fears can lead to memorable improv scenes.
The local production company also leads a beginners acting workshop for groups that would rather focus on theater games, body awareness and internal motivations. These workshops tie in with the production company’s focus on education and accessible theater.
Located in Fayetteville’s downtown and Dickson Street Entertainment District, TheatreSquared produces nationally acclaimed productions as northwest Arkansas’ only year-round professional theater. In 2011, the company received a National Theatre Company Grant from the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards.
About 45,000 patrons attend productions at TheatreSquared annually. Performances range from well-known to emerging works. Recent shows have included “Once,” “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberly” and “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”
The company recently broke ground on a permanent home for the professional theater. Estimated to open late this year, the 50,000-square-foot landmark will unite the company’s two intimate theaters, cafe and workshop space.
Terra Arts Studios
From delicate light fixtures to troll-shaped trash cans, whimsy has seeped into every inch of Terra Arts Studios. The fanciful gallery building and surrounding gardens originated from the imaginative minds of 20 artists.
Terra Arts Studios owners Leo and Rita Ward designed the property to use art to spark joy. Visitors feel like they’ve entered a fairyland as they walk a garden path past garden gnomes, life-size clay dragons and a Wizard’s chair made of lighted colored glass.
The Wards founded Terra Arts Studios in 1975 with modest plans for a glass and pottery studio open to the public. When Leo created Terra’s signature piece, the “Bluebird of Happiness,” the demand outgrew the couple’s mail-order business. Eventually, the studio expanded to include more artists and galleries. The Wards retired in 2007, but their legacy lives on. Terra Arts Studios has produced 8 million glass bluebirds.
Many artists reside on the property while creating their art. Groups can watch glass crafters create bluebirds in the gallery, shop for local artworks or enjoy the natural Ozarks beauty surrounding the studio.
Walton Arts Center
When Sam Walton saw the need for a performance space in Fayetteville in the 1980s, he sent a donation to the University of Arkansas. The initial donation from the founder of Walmart connected with funds from the city to create a multipurpose space for conferences and special events.
In 1992, officials decided to place the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street, halfway between downtown and the university. In 2016, the center underwent a $23 million renovation and expansion.
Today, the event center hosts artists and entertainers from around the globe for a diverse collection of programming that includes large-scale Broadway touring productions.
With recent productions of “Jersey Boys,” “School of Rock” and “Waitress,” the Walton Arts Center attracts some of the hottest Broadway shows. Arkansas’ largest and busiest center for the performing arts and entertainment also offers dance, theater, concerts, jazz and family programming in three main performance spaces. The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas also performs as a resident company of the center.
The center welcomes 140,000 theatergoers each year. Groups can receive special benefits, such as group discounts, bus parking and promotional materials.
Fayetteville has several art galleries, but Art Ventures has long proven a group favorite. Formerly known as the Fayetteville Underground, Art Ventures showcases visual arts from local, national and international artists.
Groups that work with the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau can arrange a studio visit to meet one of the artists and discuss the artist’s works. These meet-and-greet experiences give visitors insight into the artist’s inspiration, techniques and life.
Art Ventures opened in 2009 in the basement of a building in Fayetteville Square. The gallery’s rotating exhibits range in topic; recent shows have included “Clint Brannon’s Animal Kingdom and Chromacolor,” “Interiors in Context” and “Art for the Holidays.”
After their stop, groups can continue their Fayetteville art experience using a Fayetteville Art Walk map that takes groups from one public art installation to another. Sculptures and murals lie at key locations in town, such as the Fayetteville Public Library, the cross at Mount Sequoyah and the castle at Wilson Park.
Other murals brighten the city’s natural areas and parks, which encompass 3,000 acres and 40 miles of paved and natural trails. “Holding On and Letting Go: The Struggles and Strength of the Tsa La Gi” depicts the journey of the Cherokee people along the Trail of Tears.