Congratulations to four Conway arts organizations that have received grants from the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Throughout the state, the Arts Council awarded a total of $1.178 million to invest in community arts and educational activities.

Here’s the local roundup.

• Blackbird Academy of Arts was awarded $14,300 for its expansion arts program.

• Conway Community Arts Association, creator of The Lantern Theatre, was awarded $13,900.

• In the category of collaborative project support, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will receive $9,233.

• The Oxford American, the magazine of Southern literature based at the University of Central Arkansas, considered by the Arts Council as a Major Arts Partner, was awarded $22,583 in general operating support.

Funds for these grants come from the state and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ukelele Bill will be leading the plink, plank, plunking at the Faulkner County Library at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Also known as Dr. William Higgs, a dentist, Ukulele Bill plays several stringed instruments and builds his own ukuleles.

As he says of the ukulele, "It is truly a happy little instrument that can play almost any genre and time period. It can be very sophisticated or (mostly) very simple. You can truly celebrate life with your ukulele."

The folks at the library are hoping there will be a gathering of ukes. Words and chords are available to pick up at the library before the event. Call the library at 327-7482.

Soprano Arlene Biebesheimer with Betty Cohen, organist/pianist and Larry Jones, trumpet, will

perform in recital at 3 p.m. Sunday in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Conway as part of the church’s "Under the Dome series."

Sunday’s offering is "In Praise and Honor," is a program of sacred vocal music.

Rehearsals are under way for The Lantern Theatre’s next production, "Vincent," by Leonard Nimoy.

Yes, that Leonard Nimoy.

He wrote a touching tale of the life of Vincent VanGogh, and the folks at the Lantern promise it to be "a visual spectacle you don’t want to miss."

Tickets go on sale on Monday for performances set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 16.

Auditions for "Hats! The Musical" are set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 at the Lantern Theatre in Downtown Conway.

Roles are available for seven women ages 40 to 75. All must be able to sing solo and harmony.

Music is by Pam Tillis, Melissa Manchester and Kathy Lee Gifford, among others.

The United States Navy Band Country Current, the Navy’s premier country-bluegrass ensemble, will perform at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, at UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall. It’s a free performance, no ticket required; doors open at 7 p.m.

The seven-member band utilizes banjo, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, fiddle, electric bass, upright bass, dobro, pedal steel guitar and drum set. In 2011, Country Current became the first military band to perform at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at and 505-1234.)