by Robert Bell
The Walton Arts Center announced that its Arkansas Music Pavilion — long housed in the parking lot of Northwest Arkansas Mall — will be moving to the Washington County Fairgrounds after negotiations on a long-term lease stalled.
A WAC press release mentioned the mall's new owners: "In August 2011, a change in mall ownership occurred, and though negotiations continued, Walton Arts Center officials had to recently pursue other location options to ensure a full 2012 season for the AMP."
That seems like thinly veiled code for saying that the mall's new owner — CW Capital Management, of Bethesda, Md. — wasn't interested in having a live music venue in the backyard of one of its properties, or at least not interested enough to come to an agreement with WAC.
"It’s important to us, and to Northwest Arkansas, that the AMP host a full season of music and entertainment this summer, and our timeline required that we secure a short term lease quickly. We’re delighted to have a signed usage agreement with the Washington County Fairgrounds,” Peter Lane, WAC president and CEO stated in the release. The agreement with the fairgrounds is a one-year lease with a one-year renewal option at the end of the term.
Brian Crowne, GM and former co-owner of the AMP, promised a full 2012 season, starting off with an April 21 concert by Big Gigantic. The full season won't be announced until spring, according to the release.
The AMP opened in 2005, and WAC purchased the venue in 2010.