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HOPE, Ark. — Hempstead Hall may be technically shut because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn't mean activities aren't happening here and on the university campus.

Hempstead Hall, which is situated on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana's campus here, is set to host drive-in movies this fall, starting with "Knives Out" on Sept. 25. Also on tap are "Just Mercy" on Oct. 9, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" on Oct. 23, "Rudy" on Nov. 6 and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" on Nov. 20.

More movies will likely
be added.

To see a drive-in movie, head to the parking lot behind the Science & Technology Building. Admission is per vehicle: $15. Buy tickets in advance at HempsteadHall.com. They'll also be available at the movie screenings.

Hempstead Hall has two upcoming virtual concerts planned, too. For an "HH Unplugged" concert, pianist Bitsy Carter and guitarist Jeff Smith, who both also sing, will perform from the Hempstead stage on Oct. 2 (7 p.m. to 8 p.m.). The event will raise funds for the Junior Auxiliary of Hope. It's free but with a pay-what-you-can option.

Then on Oct. 15, a show including music meant to honor Hope citizens affected by COVID-19 will be performed on stage to see online. The music lineup will be arranged by Arnetta Bradford.

It's an appreciation event for medical professionals, teachers, hairdressers, restaurant workers and others — people who were affected by the pandemic shutdown, said Amanda Lance, director of Hempstead Hall and Workforce Development.

Hempstead Hall also will work with the SWActors, a theater company organized by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council, to present a concert-play hybrid in December.

"We are challenging ourselves to find new and interesting ways to stay connected with the community," Lance said. "The Hempstead Hall team has learned many new skills during the pandemic, such as how to create virtual events."

In an interview, Lance said they've been closed at Hempstead since March with no public events held in the meantime.

Since then, one successful outreach to the community was the summer drive-in movies, which were popular. "We had a lot of people ask to bring them back," Lance said. "We've upgraded our screen, we've upgraded our projector, so we are set for even bigger and better movies this fall."

They've used the largest parking lot at the Hope campus. Staff will direct people where to park, and typically they space it out so people can see in between the vehicles in front. They'll broadcast the movie's sound via radio.

"You listen to it through an FM radio station, a radio transmitter that sends that directly to your car or your handheld radio if your car does not have an FM radio," Lance said.

The screen this fall will be 32 feet long and 28 feet tall. The screen this summer was smaller. "It was a good picture then. This is just going to be a little bit bigger, a little bit more like a drive-in (screen)," Lance said.

They're looking forward to having movies inside again when it's possible, but in the interim they'll go with "this kind of cool, vintage experience," she said.

The virtual concerts will be broadcast on the Hempstead Hall's website and via their Facebook page.

About the partnership event with the SWActors, Lance said, "This is actually a work-in-progress, but I think it's going to be a really cool idea when it's all said and done." The SWActors will write a new play called "Hope for the Holidays," which depicts a journey through a dozen decades of Hope holidays.

"In between each of the decades, we're going to have a band perform a song that ties into the scenes in some way," Lance explained. They may be able to have a small, in-person audience for this, but that's yet to be decided.

Look for more details to be announced about this event and the virtual concerts. Providing these events is about community enrichment and staying connected to the community, Lance said.

(For more information, contact Amanda Lance at [email protected] or 870-722-8565.)

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