Posted 22 May 2017
A free screening of the Arkansas Educational Television Network's documentary 'Dream Land: Little Rock's West 9th Street' will be held at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 South Main Street, Pine Bluff, Saturday, June 3, at 2 p.m.
Little Rock, Arkansas's, West 9th Street was once a vibrant, African-American business and entertainment district and home to Taborian Hall and the Dreamland Ballroom. 'Dream Land: Little Rock's West 9th Street' explores the street's glory days and how Urban Renewal, the Eisenhower Interstate Program and more influenced its future.
'West 9th Street and the Dreamland Ballroom have patiently waited for their story to unfold so new audiences can connect to their historical past and unknown future,' AETN Producer Tanisha Joe Conway said. 'Director Gabe Mayhan and I are excited and humbled to be a part of telling this history that has definite similarities to other streets and communities in Arkansas and across the country.'
Immediately following the screening will be a panel discussion with Pine Bluff musician Milt Jackson, who played clubs along West 9th Street, and producer Joe Conway.
Arts & Science Center exhibitions that will be open at the event include: 'Color In Space: The Art of Justin Bryant,' whose watercolors reflect 'an aesthetic strategy that addresses the idea of color and space in relation to African-American consciousness'; 'RESILIENCE: Works from the Permanent Collection by African-American Women,' featuring nationally acclaimed artists Emma Amos, Vivian Browne, Camille Billops, Margaret Burroughs, Elizabeth Catlett, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Samella Lewis and Rosalind Jeffries; the annual Pine Bluff High School student art exhibit; and 'Magnificent Me' a hands-on exhibition about the systems of the human body.
Told by local residents and historians, 'Dream Land' seeks to recognize, memorialize and share the significant past of the once thriving West 9th Street.
Taborian Hall, the only remaining historic structure on the street, stands as a living witness of the community's former grandeur. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Taborian Hall housed varied and important black businesses, including professional offices, a USO, the Gem Pharmacy and the Dreamland Ballroom.
By the 1930s, Dreamland Ballroom was host to musicians, dances, socials, concerts and sporting events and was firmly established as a stop on the 'Chitlin Circuit,' which showcased regional and national African-American bands and stage shows.
The impact of federal programs such as Urban Renewal, school desegregation, the Housing Act of 1949 and the Eisenhower Interstate Program are also explored.
Though little remains of the street's former glory, viewers will be taken on a historical journey from the late 1800s to today. To help bring the Dreamland Ballroom back to life, the documentary features special reenactments by Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers, Bijoux, Detroit Johnny, Jazz R Us and dancers from the Tidwell Project, among others. A stroll down West 9th Street shows what remains today.
Major funding for the film was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and The Moving Image Trust Fund. Additional information is available at aetn.org/dreamland.
The Arts & Science Center is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 1-4 p.m., and is closed Sunday and Monday. Gallery admission is free. Support for The Center is provided in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hands-on science exhibitions are offered through ASC's partnership with Arkansas Discovery Network, a consortium of museums in Arkansas funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Additional information about the ASC is available at asc701.org.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas's only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through the distinct channels AETN PBS, AETN Create, AETN PBS KIDS, AETN World and AETN AIRS on SAP. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).