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ACANSA Presents 7th Annual ACANSA Arts Festival of the South

ACANSA presents the 7th annual ACANSA Arts Festival of the South

The ACANSA Arts Festival of the South resumes March 10 – March 25, 2022, with a dynamic lineup of performances. ATG USA is the Presenting Sponsor for the 7th Annual ACANSA Arts Festival of the South. More than a dozen performing arts groups or solo artists will perform in multiple venues, including CALS Ron Robinson Theater and The Rail Yard in Little Rock, the spacious and airy Argenta Plaza in North Little Rock, as well as UA-PTC CHARTS. Performances include world-class music, dance and theatre. ACANSA’s 4th Annual Ten-Minute Play Showcase will also become part of the Festival this year. Additionally, ACANSA is partnering with Argenta Community Theater to produce the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, OUR TOWN, by Thornton Wilder.

“We’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to present this eclectic roster throughout the pandemic,” says Executive Director Dillon Hupp. “And we really look forward to gathering with audiences again.” The 2019 ACANSA Arts Festival of the South welcomed more than 7500 patrons from 50 Arkansas communities and eight states. The September 2020 and 2021 Festivals were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s festival opens at Cranford Company Studio on Thursday, March 10, with a performance of FANCIFOOL!. The festival continues throughout three weekends; the final weekend features acclaimed saxophonist Louis Fouché among the entertainment for the annual Charlotte Gadberry Award presentation. Information about visual arts exhibitions and additional events, including educational activities, will be shared on ACANSA’s website, www.acansa.org.

Tickets are now on sale. Single ticket prices for paid events begin at $30, and Festival Gold Passes include all ticketed events at $250 each. Flex Passes are also available, and as always, some featured events are free to the public, including a performance by Bonnie Montgomery.

Please note that masks and proof of vaccination will be required at all events. Seating may be limited even in the larger venues. For tickets and the complete schedule of more than a dozen events, visit www.ACANSA.org or call ACANSA’s office in Argenta at (501) 663-2287.

ACANSA Arts Festival of the South Schedule & Programming:


March 10 & March 11 – 7:00 pm at Cranford Company Studio – 512 Main Street, Little Rock 72201

Tickets: $30

With nimble writing ranging from the hilarious to the poignant, FANCIFOOL! stars actor-dancer-comedienne Ananda Bena-Weber, who embodies a diverse assortment of comic and sympathetic characters to reveal the humorous side of life in New York City. This show is a brilliantly constructed and entertaining piece of 21st century theater, complete with dramatic and comic dialogue, singing, dancing, mime, vocal impressions and film.

Las Cafeteras

March 11 – 8:00 pm at The Rail Yard – 1212 East 6th Street, Little Rock 72202

Tickets: $30

Las Cafeteras band has taken the music scene by storm with their infectious live performances and have crossed genre and musical borders to perform around the world, from the Bonnaroo and the Hollywood Bowl, to WOMAD New Zealand and Montreal Jazz, and beyond. Using traditional Son Jarocho instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada (donkey jawbone) and tarima (a wooden platform), Las Cafeteras sing in English, Spanish, and Spanglish and add a remix of sounds, from rock to hip-hop to rancheras. Their Afro-Mexican beats, rhythms, and rhymes deliver inspiring lyrics that document stories of a community seeking love and justice in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles.They’ve performed in the good company of Mexican icons Caifanes, Lila Downs, Colombian superstar Juanes, Los Angeles legends Ozomatli, folk/indie favorites Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and Talib Kweli.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band

March 12 – 7:30 pm at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock 72201

Tickets: $35

What if The Beatles were actually from somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota? Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band is a collection of four very different musicians creating a new sound from the greatest music ever written by the greatest band ever:  The Beatles. Imagine the music of the Fab Four shaken up with infusions of bluegrass and jazz and topped off with a classical twist. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band’s repertoire features new and innovative takes on songs like Eleanor Rigby, Back in the U.S.S.R, Come Together, Blackbird and many more. The quartet, based in Texas, is Dave Walser (guitar/lead vocals), Bach Norwood (double bass/vocals), Reginald Rueffer (fiddle/violin/vocals) and Gerald Jones (banjo/mandolin).


March 9 – March 19 – in partnership with Argenta Community Theater – 405 Main Street, N. Little Rock 72114

Tickets:  $35 (various dates/showtimes, including matinees)

In partnership with ACANSA, Argenta Community Theater presents Thornton Wilder’s American classic, OUR TOWN. This Pulitzer Prize-winning play tells the story of small town Grover’s Corners, bringing the audience along to explore the universality of human existence. Directed by Ben Grimes, this theatrical masterwork is especially poignant as the American public processes the shared experience of life during a global pandemic.

Pierre Bensusan

March 17 – 7:30 pm at the The Joint Theater and Coffeehouse – 301 Main St, North Little Rock 72114

Tickets: $30

In partnership with Argenta Acoustic Music Series, central Arkansas welcomes guitarist Pierre Bensusan. Recognized as one of the premier musicians of our time, Bensusan brings audiences on a mesmerizing musical journey through world music, blending classical, jazz, traditional, folk music and more. His first album, created as a teen, won the Grand Prix du Disque when he debuted at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland. He’s been named “Best World Music Guitar Player” by readers of Guitar Player Magazine.

Jazz at The Rail Yard

March 17 – 7:30 pm at The Rail Yard – 1212 East 6th Street, Little Rock 72202

Tickets: $30

Jazz at The Rail Yard promises an unforgettable evening of music with four renowned artists:  Khari Allen Lee (Saxophone) of Delfeayo Marsalis’ Uptown Jazz Orchestra and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra; the acclaimed Ted Ludwig (Seven-string Guitar) who is the youngest inductee into The Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame; New York-based Grammy-nominated Peter Slavov (Bass); and Geoff Clapp (Drums) who performs with Khari Allen Lee & the New Creative Collective and formerly performed as a US Artistic Diplomat in North Africa and Eastern Europe.

Bonnie Montgomery

March 18 – 8:00 pm at The Argenta Plaza – 510 N Main St, N. Little Rock 72114

Tickets:  Free

Arkansas’ own Bonnie Montgomery will perform her unique blend of folk, country and bluegrass in her award-winning style under the stars at The Argenta Plaza. With roots in White County, Arkansas, and a firm foothold on forward-thinking audiences in Texas, Montgomery is armed with a poet’s phrasing, a soprano’s crystalline timbre and a revolutionary’s spirit, and her repertoire ranges wherever it damn well pleases — from high romantic ballads swaddled in violins to fiery anthems of dissent to spaghetti western-inspired vignettes. Bonnie Montgomery is presented as a free concert to the public thanks to generous support from Alessi Keyes Construction.

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass

Friday, March 18 – 7:30 pm at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock 72201

Tickets: $35

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass is America’s premier large brass ensemble. A group that always reflects the diverse makeup of men and women in American culture, RMPBB is dedicated to the notion that music is a gift to be enjoyed by everyone. On the advice of family patriarch Ellis Marsalis, the group created a concert format that breaks the usual barriers between genres and strives to create a connection between the audience and performers. The band is led by Rodney Marsalis, a trumpet prodigy who made his solo debut at the age of fifteen with the New Orleans Symphony. After having won various solo competitions, he received national attention at the age of nineteen performing as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He’s unstoppable. In recent years RMPBB has been invited to perform in performing arts centers around the world including China’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Guangzhou Opera House, Tangelwood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall, and prominent performing arts centers throughout the United States, South America, Asia, and Europe.

Collage Dance Collective

March 19 – 8:00 pm at Pulaski Technical College CHARTS – 3300 West Scenic Drive, N. Little Rock 72118

Tickets:  $40

First established in New York City in 2006 before moving the company to Memphis, TN, Collage Dance Collective remains at the national forefront of inspiring the growth and diversity of ballet. The company is one of a few professional ballet companies in the world with a roster of BIPOC dancers. While performing for local and international audiences, Collage Dance Collective has been instrumental in changing the landscape of dance in the American South and is one of the largest Black-led performing arts organizations in our region.

ACANSA’s Ten-Minute Play Showcase

March 22 – 7:00 pm at Argenta Community Theater – 405 Main Street, N. Little Rock 72114

Tickets: Free

The Fourth Annual Ten-Minute Play Showcase featuring new plays written, directed and performed by Arkansas artists, will be a one-night-only event during the ACANSA Arts Festival of the South. Each play begins and ends in the time that it takes to flip through the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store, except a good ten-minute play can be much more memorable, and oftentimes more true to life. The Showcase is produced by Hilary Trudell, Founder and Executive Director of The Yarn, a company of storytellers. Trudell is also Director of Local Programming and Regional Outreach for the Clinton School of Public Service.

Ranky Tanky

March 23 – 7:30 pm at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock  72201

Tickets: $35

This Grammy Award-winning quintet based in Charleston, SC, performs timeless music born from the Gullah culture of the southeastern Sea Islands.  “Gullah” comes from West African languages and means “a people blessed by God.” “Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky!” Their debut album was featured on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” and the TODAY show. It also soared to the #1 position on the Billboard, Amazon, and iTunes Jazz Charts. In 2020, Ranky Tanky received a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album featuring the lead vocals of Quiana Parler as well as the music of Quentin Baxter (drums and percussion), Kevin Hamilton (bass), Clay Ross (guitar and vocals), and Charlton Singleton (trumpet and vocals), all of whom previously played together in the Charleston jazz quartet, The Gradual Lean, in the late 1990s.

The Reminders

March 24 – 7:00 pm at The Rail Yard – 1212 East 6th Street, Little Rock 72202

Tickets: $30

The Reminders are a rare and remarkable musical duo seamlessly blending soulful sounds and roots music with insightful messages and thoughtful lyrics. Brussels-born emcee Big Samir and Queens-born emcee/vocalist Aja Black have been recognized and applauded for their work internationally through concerts, tours, music awards, TV and radio appearances. Having shared the stage with artists such as Les Nubians, Snoop Dogg, Fishbone, Barrington Levy, Nas, Mos Def, Big Boi, KRS-One, Rakim, K’Naan, and others. The Reminders take their hip hop foundation and move it beyond genre, time, and space to create a global musical experience.

Louis Fouché / 2022 Charlotte Gadberry Award Presentation Honors Garbo & Archie Hearne

March 25 – 7:30 pm at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock 72201

Tickets:  $125

Saxophonist Louis Fouché headlines the festivities during the 2022 Charlotte Gadberry Award evening honoring Garbo Hearne and her husband, Dr. Archie Hearne III. Founders and owners of Hearne Fine Art and Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing, the Hearnes continue to make a significant impact on the arts in Arkansas and across the U.S., especially for artists of color. Garbo Hearne, for example, has served on the state’s Arkansas Arts Council, the region’s Mid-America Arts Alliance, and the statewide advocacy group, Arkansans for the Arts. Annually, proceeds from the annual Charlotte Gadberry Award event support ACANSA’s Free Spring Break Arts Camps. Held in March during the week most schools schedule a break, the camps are a collaboration among local arts and arts organizations to provide central Arkansas youth opportunities for arts education, keeping bodies moving and brains engaged in tuition-free classes, such as ballet, theater, film acting, hip hop, screen printing and visual media exploration. Gold Passes and single tickets only provide access to this event; Flex Passes do not include this event.

Fouché has performed in 20+ countries on six continents with artists in various genres, including the legendary Latin pianist and 10-time Grammy winner, Eddie Palmieri; piano virtuoso Jon Batiste & Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; trumpet luminaries Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Brian Lynch; innovative funk bassist George Porter, Jr. of The Meters; Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers; and many others. Fouché has steadily established himself as a distinct voice in his generation on the alto saxophone. Yet his path to a career in music was not typical – his first love was science. He picked up the sax when he was 12 years old and embarked upon his musical journey attending the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp in New Orleans.


ACANSA Arts Festival of the South is a visual and performing arts festival dedicated to building a more dynamic and engaging community through the arts and enriching the cultural vitality of the region. By fostering creative collaborations among artists, patrons, businesses, and community institutions, ACANSA facilitates the creation and presentation of more compelling art that encourages public dialogue, economic innovation, provides access to a wider array of artistic experiences, and makes our community a stronger, more vibrant place to live.

Arkansans and visitors annually celebrate the ACANSA Arts Festival of the South during live performances and visual arts exhibits in multiple venues throughout September. ACANSA also provides Free Spring Break Arts camps in collaboration with professional artists to hundreds of youth. The Ten-Minute Play Showcase encourages local playwrights, directors, actors and audiences to explore new plays.

ACANSA Arts Festival of the South, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was founded by Charlotte Gadberry with the help of hundreds of dedicated volunteers throughout the central Arkansas community. The first ACANSA Festival was held in 2014. The Festival’s name, ACANSA, is borrowed from the Quapaw word for “southern place.”  www.acansa.org

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