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COVID-19 has brought unexpected and fast-moving changes to Arkansas businesses, some of which existing crisis plans and teams weren’t prepared to handle. Unfortunately, many Arkansas businesses have had to close their doors, leaving communities disheartened for their fellow neighbors. But, this pandemic has also brought out the best in innovation, causing businesses to get creative and modify their strategies to stay alive during this unpredictable time. We have seen many small businesses adapt by taking their sales online, offering curbside pick-ups, and utilizing technology in ways they never thought to do before.
MP Productions, a national production company based in Little Rock, got creative by using their resources efficiently and effectively to stay afloat while at the same time offering a great service to the community.
For over 30 years, MP Productions has been putting on national corporate events, sales events and concerts all over the country. From lighting to sound, set design and installation, their professionalism and expertise has made them a highly sought-after company. A one-week show with an expected attendance of 10,000 can take up to six months of full-time planning, perfecting all the details of the set, lighting and sound to make it a quality experience.
The company also produces smaller events, some right here in our home state. MP Productions is responsible for the Magic Springs Summer Concert Series, the Oaklawn Finish Line event, the ATA World Expo, and the Arkansas Youth Conference— just to name a few.
In March 2020, they had three semi trucks full of equipment headed to Philadelphia to put on a show. But things changed drastically and suddenly. The show was canceled and just like the domino effect, the events they had lined up on their schedule continued to get canceled. They have not had a gig since. Sadly, they have watched several of their fellow production companies have to close their doors.
Owner Mike Pope and his staff got innovative, finding a way to use their state-of-the-art equipment to continue operations. They launched MP Outdoor Cinema next to their warehouse. They created a 488-diagonal inch big screen for people to enjoy their favorite movies. There are only a few drive-in theaters in the state, and now Little Rock is on the list.
The MP Outdoor Cinema created a place with old-fashioned fun, an excellent atmosphere and new technology. When you arrive for a movie you can expect a variety of food trucks, socially-distanced parking places and sophisticated equipment to enjoy entertainment on the big screen. They charge $30/per car and travelers from across the state can guarantee a spot by purchasing tickets in advance. The cinema is open Thursdays through Sundays, weather permitting.
Even more interesting is the heart of their employees, who volunteered to work at the outdoor cinema with reduced pay. Production manager Drew Samuelson says the workers are doing everything they can to keep the doors open during this pandemic. This spirit is a compliment to the managers and owners that their employees love working for the company so much they are willing to pull together with a different kind of teamwork until they can get back to producing national events.
But that isn’t to say that they won’t keep the outdoor cinema going. The community atmosphere and service have a special place in their hearts. And they love bringing people together and serving Arkansas with their gifts and talents. You can expect this cinema to be going strong through the end of 2020. Check here for their website and here for their Facebook page to stay up to date on what is currently playing. And as a surprise, they also decided to host live concerts. Keep watch on their schedule to see who will be featured!
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