This oil town is experiencing a cultural boom with the opening of the downtown Murphy Arts District, which brings new life to the music and film scenes in the vibrant south Arkansas city.By Amy Gordy
SEE & DO
El Dorado celebrated the highly anticipated grand opening of phase one of the Murphy Arts District in late September. El Dorado Festivals & Events (EFEI), a mission-driven 501(c)3 company, saw the need in El Dorado’s historic downtown for an entertainment district and put into motion the $80 million plan.
Phase one includes Griffin Restaurant, a farm-to-table gastropub and cabaret with seating for up to 300 guests; Griffin Performance Hall, a music venue and multi-purpose event center with a 3,000 general admission capacity; MAD Amphitheater, home to music festivals, outdoor film screenings and seasonal farmers market; and MAD Playscape, a two-acre children’s playground that contains ADA accessible play equipment. Fundraising for phase two is underway and will include the development of MAD Art Gallery and a renovation of the Rialto, a 1920’s Vaudeville-era theater.
Get a well-rounded dose of theater, art and education at the South Arkansas Arts Center (110 E. Fifth St.), El Dorado’s visual and performing arts center that includes three gallery spaces, ballet studio, 207-seat theatre, costume shop, classrooms, photography studio and offices. Look for upcoming theatrical productions of “Sunset Boulevard” March 2-11, and “Singin’ in the Rain” July 12-22.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
The El Dorado Film Festival on Nov. 9-12 offers a diverse selection of international and local films with an emphasis on Southern voices. Catch programming at the South Arkansas Arts Center and Murphy Arts District including film screenings, filmmaker panels, concerts, parties and more.
Every fall, the city hosts one of the top music festivals in the state in Musicfest El Dorado. This annual three-day event brings top national music acts in a festival atmosphere with kids’ activities, craft booths, food and more.
El Dorado as long been known as a food destination for their Spudnuts—a donut delicacy made with potato flour—found at Spudnut Shoppe Company Inc. (810 W. Faulkner St.).
Backwoods Art Gallery (209 E. Main St.) offers professional framing services and doubles as an art gallery and gift shop showcasing paintings, sculpture, jewelry and more.