On Tuesday, the Oxford American signed a five-year lease on the buildings at 1300 Main Street in Little Rock that formerly housed Juanita's. The business staff of the magazine will move into the second story office space at 1300 Main at the end of November or early December, publisher Warwick Sabin said. Under an agreement with the Central Arkansas Library System, the business operations resided in the Arkansas Studies Institute rent-free for two years. That span ended in August; the OA has been paying rent since.
The editorial offices, which have been housed on the campus of UCA since 2004, will remain on campus, Sabin said.
"The Oxford American editorial staff is very happy at UCA, and UCA is very happy to have the Oxford American on campus," he said.
Sabin said he's been searching for a multi-use space for the OA for several years.
Initially, the OA will only occupy only office space on the property, but Sabin said he envisions using the rest of the property to continue the sort of special events programming the OA has done in recent years around the South. He hopes the new space becomes a "living, breathing cultural institution that enlivens the arts scene in this city and in this state."
In a later email, he sketched out some of his specific hopes for the space. None of which, he was quick to point out, have been funded or otherwise realized.
My vision includes an OA-branded Southern bistro/cafe that serves and lunch and dinner and has a diverse series of evening events that can be presented by The OA, as well as in partnership with other organizations. We can bring musicians, writers, artists, photographers, chefs, filmmakers, playwrights, and others for fun, intimate, and educational programs. There can be a monthly Southern Film Series in partnership with the Little Rock Film Festival (and other film organizations in Arkansas); a monthly series of dramatic readings from Southern playwrights in partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theater; a monthly concert of music from Southern composers in partnership with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; a monthly Southern artists series in partnership with the Arkansas Arts Center; a monthly Southern chefs series in partnership with the culinary program at Pulaski Technical College; and so on.
Plus, when local colleges bring writers, poets, and other literary figures to their campuses, we can offer to host a more hip and urban type of event in the evening (like what happens at places like KGB Bar in New York City). This would help them provide an enticement for these visitors, as well as reach a larger audience that may not be interested or able to attend a daytime event on campus.
Of course any event described above offers an opportunity for the Oxford American to capture video or audio, two things its done exceptionally well with its SoLost and Southword series. Those media, Sabin suggested, could make for great publicity tools not just for the magazine and its website but for Little Rock.