Thank you Fort Smith! Over 1,000 people experienced The Western District at atriums and bars, opera halls and old new theaters, restaurants and wineries from intimate 40-seat settings to 200-plus public performances. Most importantly your patronage has allowed this non-profit theater production to compensate more than 20 artists: actors, directors, designers, builders, painters, and a writer. We are only able to give these artisans a fraction of what their talents are worth, but this could be the beginning of a new cultural phase in the River Valley.

For too long many local artists have been expected to provide free labor for weeks, if not months, worth of work. I believe The Western District’s success demonstrates that the support and funding exists for our venues and organizations to begin paying those who provide our city with arts and entertainment. By raising the financial value of our citizen’s talents we will not only retain the amazing artists who live here, but we will create a cultural foundation from which to build.

The Fort has a rich and unique history and we are cultivating new visions and innovative projects that are shaping our future. Events such as The Unexpected, Steel Horse Rally, and the various music festivals show our city’s enthusiasm for a variety of art forms. Many investments have been made to bring in performers and artists from around the world who have transformed Fort Smith into an international destination.

We have an opportunity to grow from these incredible recent developments by showcasing our hometown talents and investing in ourselves, making our city a place where the works of local artisans are appreciated both with our attention and our financial support.