Lace up your high tops, and get ready to hoop, Fayetteville. A new basketball court will open next week on Dickson Street.
Art Court, the art-themed court project created by the Tyson family in the old Dickson Theater in Fayetteville, will officially open to the public on Thursday, August 19.
The idea behind the project was to create the decorative court and community space on the site “that would blur the boundaries of art and play.” The court, intended to be a three-year project, will be managed by Experience Fayetteville and was funded by a $236,000 Tyson Family Foundation grant.
The project was announced last summer and now, after a little over a year of design, construction, and installation, the courts are now nearly ready to be enjoyed.
The court features three hoops, including two oriented for potential full court play, and a third for the possibility of three simultaneous half-court games, games of H-O-R-S-E, etc.
The floor, and the walls behind the court include geometrical designs created by artists at BLKBOX, an NWA design agency inspired by karesansui (traditional Japanese dry gardens) and Art Deco theater marquees, officials said. The designs were painted by locals Graham and Laura Edwards.
The court will be managed by Experience Fayetteville.
Another view of Art Court / Staff photo
Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville, told us when Art Court was announced last summer that she was excited to see how the project is received by the community. At least at first, the space won’t be programmed with events by the commission.
“We don’t anticipate using for events and things like that,” she said. “We want it to be open and available. I think that’s what is one of the things that is most interesting about the project is, we don’t know exactly how people will use it, whether it’s just playing pick up games, or as a place to just hang out, or as a place to take photos. We are excited to open it up and see how people use the space.”
Rawn said the ambiguity for use of the court is by design.
“I think the uncertainty of how the community is going to use the space is what’s compelling and exciting about it,” she said. “I know that makes some uncomfortable, but this is a true pilot project, but we want to get comfortable with trying new things like this. It’s how we learn.”
Rawn said she expects Experience Fayetteville’s role in the project will include opening and closing the space each day, managing social media, and maintaining the space with things like paint, supplies and nets.
To begin, the courts will be open daily at 9 a.m. until around sunset, though Rawn said eventually she wants to open up for more evenings as time goes on.
The project came about in part, according to project lead Jordan Garner, through a placemaking conference Tyson Foundation officials attended in 2019 that emphasized the importance of outdoor public spaces in a community.
Garner said the group is hoping to use the project as a testing ground for future, similar projects in the region.
“TFF and the property owner Art Court, LLC hope that by turning the unused property into a pocket-park-like project it will allow us to better understand how our community interacts with a public space in our Downtown District,” she said. “We hope to learn how the space is used and how it wants to be used and share these learnings with the City of Fayetteville for the opening of The Ramble, our Downtown Arts and Culture Corridor.”
The court is free to enjoy and will be open to the public, but you’ll need to bring your own ball if you’re looking to shoot some baskets.
For a bit more information about the project, including some FAQs, visit artcourt.com.