The Walton Arts Center charade | Arkansas Blog

The Walton Arts Center charade

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The Iconoclast, a Fayetteville blogger, has plenty to say about the deal to move the main operation of the Walton Arts Center to Bentonville, despite Fayetteville's founding, publicly financed role in the center. Supposed site-selection criteria and public input were immaterial.

In fact, there was only one thing that determined the obsequious WAC Board's compliant decision — what the billionaire Waltons wanted, where they wanted it, and how much money they might toss to transform the old Benton County Sale Barn into a palace for Broadway shows.

Here's what you can learn from this shameless charade and how you can start calling the shots about anything and everything in Northwest Arkansas, from playhouses to regional transportation infrastructure:

(1) Inherit billions of dollars;
(2) Invest a few million in an unaccountable private non-profit
(3) Hire a hand-picked over-paid flunky to run the organization
(4) Sponsor a slanted survey to feign interest in public opinion
(5) Fake the survey results and ignore the official criteria
(6) Make large campaign contributions to compliant politicians
(7) Spend your money however you want
(8) Be smug at the impotence of the unfunded opposition

This is the way things have always worked, and it would be naive to pretend otherwise. The unwashed should be thankful that the Waltons are spending money on the arts in Bentonville, a cultural wasteland that needs all the help it can get. I mean, they could have decided to build a bigger Christ of the Ozarks in Rogers to compete with the sacred projects of Gerald L. K. Smith.

It is a stark contrast to the loving endorsement of the Walton plan in the D-G editorial this morning. From one zillionaire to another: " ... here’s hoping somebody will remember to thank the Walton family and its foundation for how much it has done for all of us." And we for them.

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