TEXARKANA, Ark. — A nonprofit organization that fights against bullying has tapped the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium as the venue for an early 2020 global streaming fundraiser.
Milwaukee, Wisc.-based Generations Against Bullying chose the AMA because of its potential and its place in early rock-and-roll music history, back when rockabilly artists came through town.
The venue, which began hosting occasional live music events again earlier this year and has a storied past as the stage where the likes of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley performed, was also selected because it’s a setting perfect for this type of streaming broadcast.
James Dean, director of media relations for GAB, said the AMA’s location on the original Rock N’ Roll Highway 67, makes it an attractive venue. Rockabilly artists in the ’50s would stop at the AMA to perform. Texarkana was a hub on this circuit.
“This is where it all started,” he said about that rock ‘n’ roll history. So, with the Boys and Girls Club here interested in their anti-bullying program, GAB will hold a live streaming event with musicians performing at the AMA on Jan. 4.
“So that we can raise funds for Generations Against Bullying on their programs to help fund the Boys and Girls Club and also fund and raise money for the Municipal Auditorium to help them with their restoration,” Dean said. “That’s what this whole event is all about, so we’re excited to be here.”
Dean said GAB selecting the AMA was something of an invite on both ends. “We had been approached by it and we thought, ‘What a great idea,'” he said, noting the music angle. “Who doesn’t like music? When you look at rock ‘n’ roll, it covers the whole genre of age groups.”
John Vutech, board member for the AMA, said the auditorium’s size fits the live streaming needs. The event has been under discussion for a couple of years.
“It’s a perfect venue because with our limited seating of 200, it’s an advantage because we can have a controlled environment of 200 people and have a camera crew behind that and create this intimate stage to broadcast out an event to create awareness,” Vutech said. With kids using iPads wherever they are, a live stream like this can reach them, he says.
“This is something that the AMA’s been wanting to do, showcase this streaming opportunity for great bands,” Vutech said.
With a limited seating capacity, this might work to the AMA’s advantage in other respects, he believes. There’s a chance to upsell tickets for a more exclusive event. They’re also talking to what he called a pretty big music artist that youth will want to watch.
Katherine McClerkin is a Texarkana native who’s helped make this event happen. She returned for a spell after living many years away from here, so she got to see this new interest in restoring the AMA.