Who We Are and What We Do
The Foundation of Arts was incorporated in 1986 as a consolidation of three artistic groups; The Jonesboro Fine Arts Council, The Northeast Arkansas Symphony, and The Friends of the Forum. The groups merged into one organization so that fund raising efforts could be consolidated and better focused on artistic endeavors. The common thread was their shared vision that the arts were the foundation for youth, families and individuals in building a community with the very best quality of life. The Symphony moved in 2001 to the beautiful Riceland Hall in the FowlerCenter on ArkansasStateUniversity’s campus, while the Arts Council was absorbed by the Foundation as a part of our programming. The FOA still maintains our founders’ vision and supports community theatre at the 650 seat City -owned Forum Theater, arts education in the 13,000 sq. ft. Arts Center, and engages in direct charitable activities. We understand that exposure to arts and culture cultivates success. We promote self-directed learning, sharpen critical and creative skills, and develop openness to diversity.
The Foundation of Arts is the “front porch” of our community. It is: a gathering place; a visitor attraction; a landmark; an anchor for the arts; we exist to educate and deliver a message that will encourage people to consider their relationship to others and the world. A center of creativity; a bridge that relates to the past, to the present – and to the future, we enhance the quality of life of our community through the arts.
The Foundation of Arts is a non-profit, publicly funded organization that serves the entire region of Northeast Arkansas and a portion of Southeast Missouri. Participants from more than 120 communities throughout 13 states have taken part in our educational and theatrical programs. The Foundation of Arts is open year round, presenting a full season of eight locally-produced community theatre performances including children’s theatre, comedy, drama, and two annual stage traditions – The Nutcracker Christmas Ballet and a summer musical, both of which are huge productions, many times featuring as many as 100 cast/crew members. Between productions and audience development programming, the Forum Theater is also available for rent to the public.
The Foundation of Arts offers education and instruction for adults and children in the Arts Center facility. Classes are offered in visual arts, acting and stage craft, voice, and dance including ballet, jazz and tap. The artists that teach these classes believe that everyone has the capability to be an artist and they give of themselves as guides to find it. At the same time we know that the classes we provide continue to develop cognitive thinking for all those who participate. For young people, our programs play an important part in social development. While for adults, they provide continued cognitive development and time for just being social.
The Foundation is open to developing new programs to serve the community and contribute to resolving challenges we face. The nature of team-building in theater, creative problem solving in art, self-discipline in dance, etc. creates growth opportunities for people who study those fields. Therefore, philosophically, we are of the mind that we are unique in our region, we are not experts in “putting out fires”. However, we contribute to the quality of life by preventing “fires” in the first place through encouraging personal growth and self-actualization through the arts.
We believe that the arts support an exemplary quality of life. For that reason we go beyond the walls of our facilities to provide outreach services to our community with the hope of contributing to the cultural development of Jonesboro. Outreach services take many forms – from scholarships and work-study programs and a “Dance Closet” that provide free and reduced price classes and dance attire to financially strained families – to partnership services with other not-for-profit organizations. We like to think of The FOA as the “cultural chamber of commerce”.
We are chartered by the State as an educational organization, and we are very proud of our educational programming. The Educational Enrichment Series is a yearly collection of day-time school matinees, all of which are geared as an educational component for area school children, grades pre-K through 12, that focus on performance and literary art. All of our EES matinees include an educational packet for the teachers to help integrate a live theater performance into their curriculum. No child is turned away from an EES matinee because of an inability to pay the low admission cost. Other outreach programs include:
Learning Expression through Arts Programming (LEAP) is an educational outreach program designed specifically and solely for adults with disabilities and is a collaborative activity with Abilities Unlimited. Twice per week, artist/teachers work with students through visual arts projects and performance arts.
Friday Fun Days in the Delta is an educational outreach program that is conducted in Delta area schools for kids Pre-K – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. Using live theatre as a platform, children are exposed to fun lessons that cover elements of the Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks and integrate social themes of good character, good choices, etc.
Curtain Up Crew is a small group of performers who rehearse various songs, scenes, etc so that they are always prepared for an impromptu invitation to a civic club, public event, or community festivals.
EES Classroom Workshops are conducted in schools, by staff members of The Foundation of Arts, in supplement to EES stage performances in The Forum.
Rising Stars, funded by United Way, is an outreach program for low income youth in North Jonesboro that provides the opportunity for middle school age children to look at and write about the problems they are facing growing up. Those writings will then be turned into short theatre vignettes and performed by the students. Beyond having the opportunity of talking about their problems, improving their writing skills, and learning theatre craft, it is also a goal that the public performances will provide an opportunity to grow community engagement in North Jonesboro.