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Dedication of the Heritage Wall Held by the SWAAC

By Staff, 01/22/20 3:25 PM

On Wednesday, January 22, the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council (SWAAC) held a dedication for a plaque for the heritage wall in the McLarty Room in the Visitors Information Center.

President, Dolly Henley started the celebration for heritage wall, she stated “we believe it is important to tell the story in sights, so our citizens and tourist alike will enjoy the story behind the art.” She then introduced Betty Jo Hayes. Hayes is one of the founding members of SWAAC and was the project lead for the heritage wall.

Hayes stated; “We were made bold essentially by the confluence of a number of different things that happened, but the biggest and most important of all was the election to the Presidency of the United States of a Hope native, and that gave us the hope that we might actually have a brief window of opportunity in which we could invite people to see Hope, to understand Hope, to celebrate Hope, and to help us celebrate our community.”

The installation for the wall took place in 2000 but the planning process began 8 years prior.
With the guidance from the National Endowment of the Arts(NEA) on how to go about it in a large way rather then adding “plop art” they were able to begin their planning process.

Various public meetings were held to get the input from the citizens of Hope. With these meetings they were able to determine a concept, during the time The Depot had just been donated and would be remodeled, there was a lot of local interest in that project.

SWAAC did a national search for artists, and received over 100 submissions. The ideas were judged by professionals in Little Rock and finalist were chosen and brought back to Hope for the communities input.

The total budget for this project was $107,000 which was raised with help from the buy-in from the NEA which helped sale it to Union Pacific along with help for Buddy Sutton. This project was designed to be a 6 block art piece down Division Street.

Hayes described the heritage wall by stating “The artwork was designed to evoke the sense of a passing passenger train, draws on the areas of history of serving as a metaphor momentum as Hope moves forward into the 21st Century.”