Eureka Springs, the quirky, quasi-Victorian village perched precariously on the hills of Carroll County in the Arkansas Ozarks, runs on tourism.
Literally, tourism is the fuel that powers the local economy. Eureka Springs attracts everyone from art lovers to ghost hunters, and the city is not lacking for attractions: the infamous Crescent Hotel, the Christ of the Ozarks, the Great Passion Play, the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railroad; Thorncrown Chapel; shops, restaurants, and hotels clinging to the city’s famed winding streets.
The Eureka Springs Arts Council has become a big part of what makes the city so attractive to tourists, especially as an arts and cultural heritage destination. The volunteer council’s efforts have helped earn the city recognition for tourism development.
The council is all-volunteer with a local board of directors and no staff. Established in 2008, it has produced publications and sponsored events and projects to help promote the city’s reputation as an arts and cultural heritage destination. And its efforts have helped Eureka win awards for tourism development.
“The council has become a catalyst for synergy among private and nonprofit organizations, artists, audiences, city officials, and community leaders,” said former Mayor Morris Pate. “By generating support and appreciation for the arts, and by incubating new talent and new thinking, they seek to gain recognition for Eureka Springs as an unparalleled cultural destination.”
The council has produced the following publications:
Eureka Springs, Arkansas: The Art & Soul of the Ozarks, a full-color publication touting the local creative economy.
Art Is Alive in Eureka Springs: Where American Art Is Made, a fifty-page booklet produced in partnership with the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce designed for patrons of nearby Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
The council works with local nonprofit organizations devoted to the arts such as Opera in the Ozarks, Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, Great Passion Play, and Eureka Springs School of the Arts, as well as the City Advertising & Promotion Commission, to sponsor multiple arts and music festivals throughout the year.
And it sponsors several events and projects of its own:
Eureka Springs Music Park, a music sculpture park with an outdoor platform stage located in a city parking lot on North Main Street in an area targeted for revitalization through economic development. The park was funded through a grant from the Arkansas Arts Council with local matching funds.
The Art Wall is an outdoor exhibit of large, themed paintings located in another lot on North Main. The council selects themes for the wall, selects the art from local artists and handles installation, promotion and sales. Artists supply their own materials, and a percentage of sales is earmarked for public art. Exhibits change out every two years.
Planer Hill Sculpture Park features a collection of three large sculptures in Eureka’s park-and-ride facility. Two of the sculptures are winners from past May Festival of the Arts competitions, and the other was created for the 2013 May Festival of the Arts.
May Festival of the Arts is a month-long annual city arts celebration in its twenty-fifth year. The event is kicked off each year by the ArtRageous Parade.
Other events sponsored by the council recently include the Eureka Springs Motorcycle Art Show coinciding with Bikes, Blues & Barbecue in Fayetteville; the Eureka Springs Indie Film Fest with screenings in City Auditorium; and Adventure into Art, a three-day tour of local artists’ studios.
“The Eureka Springs Arts Council is a group of volunteers who are contributing their own energy, creativity and hard work to bring the coveted cultural heritage tourist to Eureka Springs,” Pate said. “While Eureka Springs probably has more arts assets than most other small rural communities, we do not have any public funds for arts. The projects and programs are done by volunteers, community fundraising and grants with in-kind support when possible.
“Any community committed to bringing the arts and cultural heritage tourist to their town could replicate this model of city, private and nonprofit organizations partnering with dedicated volunteers to showcase the artistic talents and unique heritage that make their town special.”
SEE MORE EUREKA SPRINGS PHOTOS HERE