About the Arts Center
The Grand Prairie Arts Council was established in 1964 by local artists, authors, business leaders and educators, to promote the arts in Stuttgart and surrounding counties, establish a permanent facility with classrooms and exhibit space with a director to oversee programs and development. These goals were met with the purchase of the present facility centrally located from the downtown district in 1982. The primary focus has been to promote the arts through education and public involvement, festivals and classes that benefit the entire community while demonstrating the social and economic benefits that the arts provide.
The Grand Prairie Arts Council represents a work force with backgrounds in city government, education, real estate, and business. These affiliations help target and identify needs within the community for programs, potential funding, volunteers, and staying connected with the community. In addition to service to the Arts Center many of our Board also serve professional, civic and community organizations that all work together within the community.
The center’s first focus is to provide educational programs that are affordable, accessible to the community, and demonstrate the impact that the arts can play in education and local issues. Agriculture and manufacturing represent the majority of the workforce in Stuttgart and is comprised largely of single family households with multiple dependents. Data from the public schools reflect over sixty five percent of the student population qualify and are currently enrolled for reduced and or free meals. Program costs, tuition and ticket prices for events are kept at a minimum. The center also provides scholarships for tuition costs for every program presented. Current programs at the Arts Center include The Grand Prairie Festival of the Arts, The Lions Peace Poster Contest, Summer Art Camp, After School, Weekend Classes and Community Outreach.
Beginning in the fall of 2010 the Arts Center was awarded a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice to address student’s cognitive skills and improve their classroom and social performance using art as the catalyst. The Grand Prairie Arts Initiative provided after school classes four days a week and summer camp program to over one thousand plus students yearly. Due to corporate and foundation support this initiative is continuing. Classes for students in third thru sixth grade are taught after school now and our summer programming will celebrate over twenty years of summer camp in 2019.
The first Grand Prairie Festival of Arts was held in September of 1956 at Farmers & Merchants Bank in their community room and named “The Arkansas County Art Festival”. The festival was later renamed “The Grand Prairie Festival of the Arts” and moved to its new home at the completed Grand Prairie War Memorial Auditorium. For many years the auditorium was home to the festival and provided space for the exhibit, local vendors, and a stage for entertainment. In 2008 the festival moved to the Stuttgart Junior High School awaiting the completion of the Grand Prairie Center.
For over sixty years the festival has undergone many changes in location and offerings to the community and participating artists. Starting in 2017 the festival made a change that presented the festival over the academic calendar dividing the major categories of Visual Arts, Photography, Decorative Arts and Creative Writing every other month. The festival has come “home” to the Art Center of the Grand Prairie.
The format changes made starting in the fall of 2017 has been met favorably by all participants. The quality of entries and the total number received specifically have remained consistent and show growth due to the new format. The festival is open to artists of all mediums and ages from youth to seniors and attracts entries from across the state.
The Lennox Performing Arts Series founded in 2002 in partnership with Lennox Industries allowed many individuals in the community the opportunity to hear a concert violinist, professional singer, choir and or attend with their children a professional children’s theatre. Lennox Industries has been a major sponsor along with our other foundation and corporate supporters to insure the continuance of our summer programs.
About the Director
Charles Law is the Director of the Arts Center of the Grand Prairie in Stuttgart Arkansas where he directs all artistic and educational programs. Under Mr. Law’s direction the center has focused on projects serving youth in the community thru after school and summer programming. His direction at the center has seen the development of programs ranging from a community choir, week end classes in a wide variety of art mediums, a high school brass ensemble and currently is overseeing a project he wrote for youth entitled the Grand Prairie Arts Initiative. This program was sponsored thru the Department of Juvenile Justice, Washington D.C. for three years and is still going strong thru support and recognition of the programming and its value. He is also the Director and Producer of the Grand Prairie Festival of the Arts which celebrated its 62nd season in 2019. Mr. Law is responsible for all activities at the center including fund raising and educational outreach.
In addition to his position at the Art Center, Mr. Law was the Principal Percussionist with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for 16 seasons, and studied percussion with principal players in the Chicago and St. Louis Symphony and spent four years working with members of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C. Mr. Law was a conducting student of Keith House and has studied additionally with Robert Henderson and Dale Lonis. He focuses now on solo projects and chamber music. Recent performances with Johnny Mathis, the late Frank Sinatra Jr. and numerous national touring broadway shows including Wicked, Beautiful and Motown are some of Mr. Laws recent performances.
Mr. Law was also the Director of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojan Band for two decades building programs that performed for all the home men and women’s basketball games and tournaments. In addition the band was featured across the Midwest ranging from performances at the House of Blues New Orleans, Morgan Freemans Blues Club “Ground Zero” and the Hard Rock Café in Denver, Colorado. He founded the UALR Percussion Ensemble in 1989 and directed the entire percussion program until 2016.