The South Arkansas Arts Center

Sarah Beeman, EHS Hi-Gusher Staff



Sarah Beeman

The South Arkansas Arts Center had been contributing to the rich art district of El Dorado since its founding, bringing music, art, inclusivity, and theater productions to the community. Since its founding in 1964, the SAAC has grown in both scope and footprint. 

Laura Allen, the executive director of the South Arkansas Arts Center says, “When the founders renovated an old armory into the original theater and lobby gallery, they knew that the arts were already so important to El Dorado. As the center has grown to include two additional galleries, a ballet studio, classrooms, a computer lab, and scene and costume shops, it has also grown as a part of so many people’s lives.”

Sarah Beeman

“We have after-school classes in visual art, graphic art, music, ballet, and theater for children from preschool and up, as well as classes and workshops for adults. Our gallery welcomes monthly exhibits by local, regional, and emerging artists, and our community theater stages three shows each year.”

A freshman at EHS, Riya Nelson, who is an active participate at the South Arkansas Arts Center states, ¨I do plays at the arts center so it helped me understand my love for theater–before the arts center I only thought I liked Disney movies and then I did Beauty In The Beast, which was my first play, so from there on, theater was fun, and big part of my life!¨

The executive director details how the programs had positively affected the community. “It also offers the community a safe place to come together and build connections with people from different backgrounds… We have a talented community, and that our expectations, and that of the community, are very high.” 

And still, Allen expects SAAC can do more for the community in the future. “We can always see the opportunity for more classes in new art forms, like film making and podcasting, or instruments that we don’t currently offer.”

SAAC offers a full schedule of receptions, performances, and other events for El Dorado’s artistic community. South Arkansas Arts Center website ( states a performance announcement that “2020-2021 Season Mamma Mia moved to summer 2021.” Upcoming events, SAACs website details “is pleased to announce scheduled dates and social distancing protocols for the El Dorado Film Festival. In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the event, originally planned for October 8-10, will instead be held November 13-14 at the Murphy Arts District’s First Financial Music Hall. Presented by SAAC and sponsored by Sudden link, the festival is pleased to have the opportunity to work within MAD’s larger space in order to present an in-person event.”