All the world's a stage

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (AST) has been bringing professional-level Shakespeare productions and musicals to Central Arkansas as the only professional Shakespeare theater company in Arkansas since its first festival in 2007. This year is no different with full productions of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a family friendly production of As You Like It, and a musical production of Fiddler on the Roof.

The performances take place in a few different places around Conway and Little Rock, with some shows even being performed in Bentonville and El Dorado, both indoors and out. You can check out the full schedule and play details over at the AST website.

After hosting an AST production of A Comedy of Errors last year, it was clear to us at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute how much enthusiasm there is for performing arts in the state. One of the wonderful things about AST is that it gives Arkansans a chance to experience professional theater from both sides of the curtain. Just as there are shows in their schedule that fit different budgets and tastes, there are many positions available within AST that attract student interns from local colleges and universities and Broadway and off-Broadway talent alike. All of that enthusiasm and talent is why we are thrilled to host a performance of As You Like It on June 20 here at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. We’re looking forward to another great crowd.

Speaking of As You Like It, did you know that it is one of 18 plays that we wouldn’t have today if not for the First Folio? The First Folio is the first published collection of Shakespeare’s plays, put together after his death by two of his fellow actors. If you catch As You Like It here or at the other venues in the state, and you would like a chance to see the book that made it possible, AST and the University of Central Arkansas will be host to a touring First Folio exhibit in 2016 featuring an original copy of the important collection.

As you can see, there are a lot of options for you to enjoy this summer. We hope you’ll get out there and take in one of the great performances happening around the state; we’ll be sure to save you a seat here on Petit Jean.


Business workshop to help landowners expand and earn extra income

There’s a business school maxim that says “failing to plan is planning to fail.”  When landowners, farmers and hunting clubs try to figure out how to earn extra income and offer other activities for visitors, the plan is the first and most important step.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is helping landowners interested in branching out and earning extra income get their plan started at a Business Workshop for Landowners. The workshop, being held on Thursday, May 14, will provide an opportunity for landowners to seek new and innovative ways to earn extra money.

No one in Arkansas has done a better job of doing just that than workshop speaker Mike Mills, who founded the Buffalo Outdoor Center (BOC) in 1976. What began as a business renting canoes to those seeking adventure on the waters of the Buffalo National River is now a thriving, year-round operation that includes a lodge, 19 cabins, the Buffalo Outdoor Center Store and a zipline canopy tour, as well as raft and kayak rentals.

BOC is located in Newton County, which is the largest land mass county in the state yet has the smallest tax base because most of the land is owned by various government entities. The BOC has a significant impact on the county, providing jobs for 35 full-time employees and eight seasonal employees.

Mills will share his wisdom on how taking little steps every year encourages growth, and how his willingness to adapt and expand has led to his best years as a business that not only has strengthened his family (who helps him run BOC) but also his community and tourism in Arkansas.

Learn from Others

Five years ago, Dwayne and LuDonna Parsons started Farmland Adventures in Springdale, Arkansas. “Wherever we go, we try to learn from others who have been down the road we are on. Talking to people and hearing their stories has helped us to not make some of the agritourism mistakes they have made and created a trusted group of advisors that are interested in supporting us.”

Dwayne Parsons will speak at the workshop about the how and why of their business, the challenges, the benefits and the many things they have learned that attendees can avoid and use to move forward on diversifying and growing their businesses.

The Nitty Gritty

Attendees will also learn about recreational enterprise potential; management for natural resources like waterfowl and nuisance wildlife like wild hogs; ways to market their enterprise; cost-share programs that are available; and ways to reduce their liability. The workshop is being held as a partnership between Mississippi State University, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.

Registration is $30 per person or $50 per couple and includes lunch, breaks and a collection of reference materials. For more information about the workshop or to register online, visit Register soon, as the deadline is tomorrow, May 8.

Come join us on beautiful Petit Jean Mountain.


As you make your summer plans ...

Between the scenic views, wonderful camping, hiking and fishing spots, you probably don't need any more reasons to visit Petit Jean Mountain this summer. But we're giving you some anyway.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute will host five programs and a number of culinary classes over the next 75 days. It all kicks off with the Conference on Normal Tissue Radiation Effects and Countermeasures. That translates to the acronym CONTREC. CONTREC, which kicked off yesterday and continues through Saturday, is an international gathering of scientists who work in the field of radiation injury research. What is radiation injury, you might ask? It's when the tissue in your body is damaged because of exposure to radiation.

The researchers coming to CONTREC will present findings related to three types of radiation injury: cancer treatment (the most common), radiation emergencies (think dirty bombs or nuclear meltdowns) and space travel. Yes, space travel.

It just so happens that we have one of the world's premier radiation injury institutions right here in our Arkansas backyard at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Who knew? Well, UAMS' chancellor, Dr. Dan Rahn, did. And last year he helped us connect the dots to work with Dr. Martin Hauer-Jensen, the director of UAMS' Division of Radiation Health and a worldwide leader in radiation injury research. Dr. Hauer-Jensen has brought in scientists from all over the globe (Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom, to name a few) for CONTREC. This conference is NOT open to the public, but we hope to share some of what is discussed through our social media feeds, so keep an eye on @Rockefeller on Twitter later this week.

We go from tackling a health care issue of global magnitude this week to helping spur local agricultural and economic development next week. On Thursday, May 14, we're hosting a Business Workshop for Landowners. It's only $30 (or $50 per couple - cost covers lunch and snacks, too) for a full day of instruction about how to take the farm or timberland you own and turn it into a profitable business, whether through starting a hunting or fishing club, an agritourism venture or a host of other opportunities.

This program was developed by the Natural Resources Enterprise folks at Mississippi State University. Adam Tullos and Daryl Jones are walking encyclopedias when it comes to land management for business purposes, and we're excited to have them here. We're also partnering with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, and they'll bring their Arkansas-specific expertise to the workshop. The registration deadline is Friday (May 8), so sign up soon.

June is Shakespeare month here at the Institute. On June 12-13, we're hosting a St. John's College Great Books seminar, in which participants will read the Bard's The Merchant of Venice ahead of time and then be guided in discussion of the text by Dr. Victoria Mora, a vice president at St. John's and an expert in classic literature. Then the following Saturday, June 20, we're hosting the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre's performance of As You Like It. The performance will be an abridged (1-hour), family-friendly version of the play, which includes one of Shakespeare's most famous lines, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." The free performance, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, literally, will be held on the Institute's front lawn. It makes for a great family outing.

And finally, we're gearing up for our Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp in July. We'll have more details later, but suffice it to say it's shaping into a pretty spectacular program. The keynote of that event, an interview of Steve Clark conducted by Roby Brock, will be free and open to the public.

And we haven't even touched on our amazing culinary classes, including Table for Two (still some openings for summer classes), Chef's Tasting Dinner, Made From Scratch and Basic Training.

There's something for everyone at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute this summer. We'll see you soon.