Twenty years ago today, the official Little Rock Visitor Information Center at Curran Hall was opened with great fanfare, circumstance and celebration. Today, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening, the future use of this important site is in question.
Originally, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) handled day-to-day operations, but in 2006 decided to cut ties. The city then issued a request for proposals to find a new manager for the visitor information center and the Quapaw Quarter Association won the contract with a commitment of city and CVB support totaling $100,000.
The association had to close the center when the pandemic hit, and as a result, the city and the CVB suspended their management fees until we were allowed to reopen. The Visitor Information Center was reopened in June 2021 and the city reinstated its share of the management fee; the CVB did not. This reduction represents a 60% decrease in the operating budget.
The Quapaw Quarter Association continues to operate the center under the management agreement that was passed by the city in 2010. But even with minimizing expenses, city fees do not cover the cost of conserving the visitor information. Open center. The association is not in a financial position to cover the losses to operate the center indefinitely.
We shared our concerns with the City and asked if it was possible to modify the management agreement or increase its staffing. The city said they would answer us.
We also spoke with the CVB. New CEO Gina Gemberling met with me and Little Rock Visitor Foundation Board Chairman Wally Nixon and shared that CVB is currently undergoing a strategic planning exercise and will not would not be able to give us a definitive answer on the promotion of the center or the restoration. financial support to keep it open. Its consultants preparing the strategic plan contacted me last week to conduct an interview.
We believe our state capital should have a large visitor center with easy parking, an accessible entrance, and public restrooms. The Curran Hall Visitor Information Center meets all of these requirements.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening and inauguration of the Curran Hall Center, we look to the future. We hope this includes not only the maintenance of the Curran Hall Visitor Information Center, but also its promotion, preservation and appropriate financial support from the city and the CVB.
The Little Rock Visitor Foundation invites the public to Curran Hall, 615 E. Capitol Ave., from 5 to 6 this afternoon. We will have cake, champagne and lemonade to celebrate this milestone. RSVP: email@example.com.
Patricia M. Blick is executive director of the Quapaw Quarter Association.