A Momentary Update: People and plans coming together in Bentonville

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19 December, 2018 By Lara Jo Hightower

The Momentary -- Bentonville's innovative new contemporary arts venue -- continues to hurtle toward its early 2020 opening date, with new developments occurring frequently. The latest: The Momentary just announced that Australia-based audio company RØDE made a $1 million gift to the organization. As a result, the indoor concert venue will be named "The RØDE House."

RØDE president and founder Peter Freedman and United States ambassador to Australia the Hon. Joe Hockey visited Northwest Arkansas in early December.

"I first visited this area of the United States a little over a year ago, and was struck by the vibrancy and growth of the region," a press release sent out by the organization quotes Freedman as saying.

Prior to accepting the role as executive director at the Momentary, Lieven Bertels spent six years at the helm of the Sydney Festival in Australia, one of the largest arts festivals in the world.

Another big gift was announced in September, when WalMart committed to giving $2 million towards innovation and access -- allowing the venue to offer free general admission, as does its sister venue, Crystal Bridges.

This year has been spent finalizing the renovations to the 63,000-square-foot former Kraft Foods plant that will house the venue, says public relations director Beth Bobbitt.

"Design and site work is complete, with the new construction phase underway," she says. "Spaces are being transformed to include galleries, studio space for artists, a small black box theater, kitchen, café, rooftop bar, and flexible indoor gathering areas as well as an outdoor space for concerts, festivals, and community events. The Momentary will open to the public in early 2020, with a preview concert in the fall of 2019."

Recently, hiring decisions for four integral positions within the organization were announced.

Pia Kishore Agrawal, former program director for the University of Houston's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, was named the curator for the performing arts program. Agrawal's resume also includes serving as the managing director of the Rude Mechs in Austin, Texas, an award-winning theater company of more than 30 professional actors.

Cynthia Post Hunt, a curator and artist based in Northwest Arkansas, was hired as a programmer for the theater and dance programs. Hunt is the co-founder of the Inverse Performance Art Festival and a recipient of a 2018 Artists 360 grant.

Kaitlin Maestas will be filling the role of assistant curator for visual arts. Maestas worked previously as the curatorial assistant of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum.

Stuart Rogers is joining the team as a programmer for festivals and music. The Australian Rogers is a documentarian and a former DJ who represented Beth Orton and Debo Band through his own management company. Rogers was the program manager at the Sydney Festival in Australia from 2014 through 2018.

"We've accomplished a lot in 2018 with the help of funders and a new team of dedicated professionals who will help the vision of the Momentary come to life in 2020," says Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary. "The Momentary will complement Crystal Bridges offerings, extending the story of contemporary art right up to the moment. We look forward to the opening and adding to the unique arts and cultural landscape in Northwest Arkansas."


About The Momentary

The concept of The Momentary is that of a “multi-disciplinary space for visual and performing arts and an artist-in-residency program.”

“There is a strong desire to now boldly look at art by living artists and go farther into the 21st century and to embrace two things at once — the present and the future. But also to really think of a sense of place,” executive director Lieven Bertels said in an interview in September.

“And the channel to do that is very much through visual arts, but also through music and performing arts and culinary arts and social experiences in equal measure. So we’re designing this building, so that we can host performing arts and visual arts gallery spaces and culinary explorations. But [we will] make sure that these can interact, as well, so that when we work with living artists who might come to the Momentary and work in one of the studio spaces, they might be involved in something culinary or with performing arts, with the hopes that our local community will be able to watch.”


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