Community arts association to apply for liquor license

By Tammy Keith Originally Published August 25, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated August 24, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.
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CONWAY — The Conway Community Arts Association Board of Directors is working with an attorney to apply for a private-club license for the association’s performance venue, The Lantern Theatre, said Shua Miller, president of the group’s board.

“We’ve had this idea seriously since last May,” Miller said.

The Lantern Theatre opened in June 2011 at 1021 Van Ronkle St. in downtown Conway. The 2,000-square-foot facility, which is rented, is the first permanent venue for the organization in its almost 40-year existence.

Miller, 39, said last week that the community arts board is working with attorney Charles R. Singleton of Little Rock in the application process to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

The goal is to apply and be approved in September, Miller said.

Liz Parker, treasurer of the community arts board of directors, sent an email Aug. 15 asking people who support the move to respond with their names and addresses to be used in the application.

“Although we have not officially announced it, The Lantern Theatre is in the process of applying for a private-club license so that we can offer our patrons a glass of wine or beer during intermission,” Parker said in the email.

“Several things have to happen before we can actually apply. One of those things is to list names and addresses of 100 people who support this objective,” she wrote.

“We’re really close” Miller said of the goal of gathering the 100 names.

He said the application requires that he send photos “inside and outside” of the theater, along with copies of minutes of the meeting at which the board approved applying for the license. Miller said the board voted unanimously in favor of seeking the permit, and he signed those minutes last week.

His name would be on

the license, he said, along with the name of the organization.

Miller said beer and wine would be served during intermission or before a show,

but not during a performance.

“It’s not going to be like a bar, where people are hanging out,” he said. “If we’re doing a family show, we’re not going to sell beer. The way we sell it is going to lend itself so it’s not any kind of raucous or rambunctious.

“It’s a huge responsibility, and if the state lets us do it, we’re not going to mess it up.

“We’re not going to serve anybody who’s already intoxicated; we’re not going to serve somebody to the point of being intoxicated.”

I don’t think we’re going to have to charge for any kind of membership, but I don’t know,” Miller said.

“Everyone has to sign up when they come through, just like a restaurant.”

Miller said he has been a restaurant server and a bartender, and was manager of the Mellow Mushroom in Bentonville and Fayetteville before coming to Conway.

“So I don’t have a problem putting my name on [the license],” he said.

He said he is required to take a class from the ABC before The Lantern Theatre can serve alcohol.

The next classes are Sept. 6 and Sept. 9, he said.

“I’m not scared of the class,” Miller said, adding that he likely will learn something.

“I won’t mess around. We may have to convert a closet to keep stuff on site. … There are things we’re going to have to do,” he said.

Building owner Carmen Thompson of Conway said the arts association asked her “if she cared” if it applied for the alcohol permit.

“I said, ‘Yes, I do — I want you to have it,’” she said, laughing. “I think it’s good for them.”

Miller said he doesn’t expect much, if any, opposition, based on his conversations with people.

“Anytime we’ve brought it up beforehand … people got excited,” he said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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