News release from LRCVB
Historic Curran Hall to be ‘Enhanced’ with Expanded Use
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (June 5, 2006) – Historic Curran Hall, the Little Rock visitor center, is not closing to visitors, contrary to some reports.
While the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has been charged by the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission to explore leasing the facility to the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, any agreement would include allowing the facility to remain open as a source for visitor information, as well as a site for some public functions.
A resolution passed by the Advertising and Promotions Commission states that “the Commission desires that Curran Hall continues to be utilized for public purposes that are appropriate for the facility and compatible with its status as an historic building, with a reasonable variety of visitor information still available to the public.”
The resolution also recognizes a need to find additional uses for Curran Hall to draw more people to the historic home, “given the costs of operation and the maintenance of the center and the availability of other information centers in the city.”
Dan O’Byrne, chief executive officer of LRCVB, and his staff have been directed by the A&P Commission “to initiate the use of Curran Hall for an expanded public purpose and, therefore, to pursue the negotiation of a lease agreement with… the Clinton School of Public Service whereby Curran Hall would be leased to the Clinton School for its classroom and meeting space,” according to the resolution. The resolution goes on to say that LRCVB be allowed to install a visitor information kiosk at the facility, as well as leave “reasonable brochure racks in the facility for the display of visitor information.”
There is also a provision in the resolution that the Curran Hall gardens continue to be maintained by the LRCVB and that they remain open to the public.
The resolution notes that visitor counts at Curran Hall have been far fewer than at other visitor information locations throughout the city. In 2005, just over 25,000 visited Curran Hall, while more than 900,000 people visited the River Market Pavilion, which contains visitor information, and more than 500,000 visited the Clinton Presidential Center, where a visitor information desk has been established. The LRCVB also staffs a visitor information desk at Little Rock National Airport that drew more than 90,000 visitors in 2005.
“The changing face of our city as a destination has really caused us to rethink our visitor information discipline,” O’Byrne said. “We’ve had great success reaching visitors at the
Clinton Center and at the River Market and we’ve even opened up an office and staffed a visitor center in West Little Rock .”
Meanwhile, the commission has identified a need for historic Curran Hall to be enhanced, and having it serve as a part of the Clinton School of Public service, while remaining a place for visitor information, is an ideal use, said Mary Beth Ringgold, chairman of the A&P Commission.
“The goal here is to enhance the use of Curran Hall and actually bring more people into the facility,” Ringgold said. “Look at what the Clinton School has done for the historic Choctaw Station – they’ve really raised the profile of that great building. We think the same can be done at Curran Hall. While the Clinton School will be able to have classes and public forums in the building, visitor information will still be available to the public.”