El Dorado, Arkansas

The city of El Dorado, Ark., a two-hour drive south of Little Rock, probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind as an up-and-coming tourist destination, but if Terry Stewart, 71, the former chief executive officer and president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has his way, this perception may soon change. As the chief executive officer of El Dorado Festivals & Events, Mr. Stewart is charged with turning the city into the next music and arts hub in the United States.

A $70 million infusion is key to the project: The money comes from a combination of donors, including Murphy Oil Corporation, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Walton Family Foundation. The first phase of the initiative, the $54 million, six-block Murphy Arts District in downtown El Dorado, is making its debut on Sept. 27. The district’s five-day opening celebration will have performances by artists like Brad Paisley, Smokey Robinson, Ludacris and the hip-hop trio Migos.

Below are edited excerpts from an interview with Mr. Stewart.

What exactly is the Murphy Arts District?

It’s essentially a new neighborhood in the center of El Dorado. We’ve repurposed a number of historic buildings to create a cabaret restaurant, a 2,000-seat music hall and an outdoor amphitheater which can seat 10,000 people. There’s also a two-acre play park for children with climbing equipment, slides, a zip line and a water area where there are fountains to run and jump through.

The amphitheater and music hall will be venues for music concerts by both famous and lesser-known artists and also for touring Broadway shows. The cabaret restaurant will host performances by cabaret acts

The city of El Dorado, Ark., a two-hour drive south of Little Rock, probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind as an up-and-coming tourist destination, but if Terry Stewart, 71, the former chief executive officer and president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has his way, this perception may soon change. As the chief executive officer of El Dorado Festivals & Events, Mr. Stewart is charged with turning the city into the next music and arts hub in the United States.

A $70 million infusion is key to the project: The money comes from a combination of donors, including Murphy Oil Corporation, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Walton Family Foundation. The first phase of the initiative, the $54 million, six-block Murphy Arts District in downtown El Dorado, is making its debut on Sept. 27. The district’s five-day opening celebration will have performances by artists like Brad Paisley, Smokey Robinson.

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