Frequently Asked Questions
Why the Foundation of Arts?
-The FOA is a place of community. Because the arts are what humanity has in common with
each other (we all appreciate some form of art, whether it’s music, movies, paintings, theatre,
architecture, landscaping, interior design, web design, etc.), we have a space and a community
that is not a respecter of any race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. Something in our
human DNA is creative, in all of us, and fostering that something makes us better as individuals
and, as we work together on projects, better as a community. So, we seek to enhance the
quality of life of our community through the arts. The FOA attempts to make the arts and arts
experiences accessible to as many people as possible.
We believe that engaging in the arts is a beneficial work. While some may fully respect
professional artists and their work, we respect the work of professionals and amateurs because
the process of creating is as important to the individual and their community as the product that
is created. Great works of art – whether it be individually created static art or active art, or
collaboratively created art reveals truth and beauty in a way that elevates us all. In addition, the
good practice of creating art, whether great or mediocre, elevates us as well. This perspective
is as relevant as any in the field of community development and quality of life.
Why do we insist that dancers take class at the FOA during the time that they are rehearsing for
an FOA ballet?
-Creating, teaching, and rehearsing choreography requires a level of understanding the skill
level and abilities of each dancer. Maintaining consistency in the techniques being taught to the
dancers and the expectations of how often the dancers are practicing these techniques (to keep
in shape, to stay focused, etc) is necessary to create something of quality and to demonstrate
that we value the health of the dancer.
Why does the FOA encourage students to take classes from different genres?
-We value a well-rounded artist because as the student develops varying skill sets, he/she is
better able to achieve all of their goals. Also, learning in the arts leads to greater success in all
areas of life, not just the arts specifically.
Who decides how much tuition is awarded to families?
-The FOA Education & Personnel Committee based on an application process and
pre-determined set of criteria by members of the Education & Personnel Committee
Why do we believe dancers should err on the side of safety, instead of age or ability when
choosing when to go en pointe?
-Dancing en pointe is a beautiful rite of passage for developing ballerinas. But it is also
extremely stressful on joints and bone structure. Careful attention and conservative thought
should go into choosing when a possibly still-growing dancer will regularly place intensive stress
on their hips, feet, and ankles. Concern for their body structure, demonstrated work ethic,
demonstrated skill level, and nutrition habits, should be of the highest priority.
Why do we encourage good eating and healthy habits for FOA dancers and performers?
-Nutrition feeds a growing body in training. Not only should technique and artistry be highly
relevant in creating excellent dancers and performers, so should what they put in their bodies to
make them run efficiently. This is true not only for dancers, but for other FOA artists who are
using their “tools” (voice, body, face, etc.) to tell the story.
How do I become a teacher?
-Arts Center teachers are hired based on their training and experience within the art form they
would teach. Arts Center teachers either have previous education, experience, or have
graduated from the Teacher Assistant Program at the FOA Arts Center. For more information,
contact the Artistic Programs Director for assistance in the hiring process.
Why doesn’t the Executive or Artistic Director help cast every production?
-Neither the Executive nor the Artistic Director should help cast any production, unless they are
the Production Director. Casting productions is not within their purview, in fact, if they offer
opinions regarding casting, the integrity of the artistic process is tainted. This goes against the
initial job description of the Artistic Director, which is to ensure the integrity of the artistic
What is the process and criteria for choosing shows for the FOA season?
-It is valuable to provide a well-balanced season of theatre in that we serve many
demographics, i.e. children, adults, the highly educated, musical lovers, serious drama lovers,
comedy lovers, and other diverse groups. When choosing show titles for a season, a number of
factors must be considered: the type of cast needed, the type of audience to which the title is
targeted, the investment of royalties, set requirements, and cost of production compared to the
potential return on investment, whether the rights to a title are available (The FOA must pay
rights for almost every production on the season), the level of skill required of the Artistic Crew,
and the rest of the titles already chosen for the season.
It is the job of the Artistic programs Director to assess the current needs of the organization,
conduct and evaluate surveys, and present a season to the Board of Directors for approval in
the Spring of every year.
Why does the FOA have so many shows in our season?
-There are so many different interests, ability levels, and ages, in our community, and we want
to provide opportunities for as many people as we can. The number of productions in a given
season is closely monitored with regard to the interest level of the community, demonstrated by
number of auditioners per production and patronage.
Why doesn’t the FOA allow dancers under a certain age to dance in the Nutcracker?
-Careful thought is given each year to how many dancers the artistic team and crew can serve
well. Also, we want very young dancers to see the show in their early years to understand what
they will contribute to and experience in their future.
Why can’t dancers perform en pointe if they didn’t audition en pointe?
-This serves to help ensure that the dancer can maintain their health and consistency during a
choreographed dance en pointe. It also “levels the playing field” in auditions, so that the director
can choose who plays which roles in as objective a way as possible.
My child was not advanced to the next level class. Why?
-The Arts Center Instructors are always looking to advance students to the next level. That is
an important goal for the student as well as the Instructor. However, it is not the only important
goal. Equally important, in fact more so, is the measured ability of the student. If the student
does not demonstrate the ability to behave/perform to the minimum requirements of that level,
he/she will not be moved there. Our students have an annual evaluation of skills that provide
the students and the teacher to take stock of the student’s progress and readiness for the next
level. These evaluations are not arbitrary, and when there are questions as to the objectivity of
the instructor, other instructors are asked to observe and are included in the evaluation.
Why can’t you just advance my child to the next level based on her age or the number of years
she has taken class?
Our classes are based on curriculum and are developmentally appropriate for age and skill
level. It is not healthy or wise to place a student in a level that could be discouraging or even
unsafe to the student.
Why do FOA directors need to have either a theatre degree or extensive experience in the
theatre outside of the FOA?
-We believe that the process of creating great theatre is as important as the final product. A
demonstration that the director of a production has more than a cursory knowledge of the
process and final product is vital to provide excellence in both the process and product. We are
always looking for qualified Directors to serve in the awe important ways.
Why does the FOA have so many fundraisers?
-It takes a lot of money to provide arts and arts experiences to as many people as we do.
Around 25,000 people are served through our community theatre program, live music, outreach
programs, and arts education programs. No one is financially benefited from any financial
increases in income at the FOA. What does happen is an increase in the quality of
programming and the numbers of people we can serve.
What are the basic FOA principles that Directors consider when casting an FOA production?
-Community Theatre was the first program of the FOA many years ago and is now one of the
myriad of arts programming produced by the FOA. Nevertheless, community theatre is a
well-known program that provides arts experiences to many people including the cast and crew
members and patrons coming to support the show. Casting a production at the FOA involves a
number of principles, and ordering those principles is primarily a responsibility of the Director.
Here are the principles that FOA Directors, and their Artistic Crews, are asked to follow:
● As the Director of an FOA production, the artistic vision of the production is their own.
This includes casting. The Artistic Director’s primary responsibility is protecting the
integrity of the process, a large part of that process being that the Director owns the
vision and artistry of the production. While it is true that the Director should listen
carefully to advice from the Artistic Director, the Director’s vision will almost never be
overruled by the Artistic Director.
● Priorities for each production, in serving FOA constituencies, is considered during the
planning process. For most productions, a maximum number of cast members is
established, keeping in mind safety procedures, show quality, and the quality of cast
members’ experience as equal priorities.
● Casting siblings and family members together within a show is important to us. When
possible to do so and still ensure the integrity of the script, we want to honor the
experience of the whole family. We cannot always accommodate for this in casting, but
we do try.
● Casting principle characters and leads is always the ultimate responsibility of the
Director. When cast these roles, directors consider appearance, talent level, directibility,
comparisons with other actors, and any other issue that might distract the director from
their primary responsibility as lead artist in the theatrical process.
● Directors should attempt to cast 10% to 20% new cast members to the FOA stage. This
rule of thumb is not always attainable, given the number of new people who audition.
● Unless there is an important reason for the Artistic Director to be in auditions, she should
not be. This helps to ensure a higher level of purity in the process.
Why do we try to respect the stage by staying off of it during the run of a theatrical production?
-The stage is the place we all share in telling our story, and the particular story being told at the
time should be revered as important, even holy, because it is all of the participants’ (thespians
and audience members) common experience for that time. We want to communicate that
respect to each other and the audience by only being present on the stage when we are
participating in telling the story.
Most of the time, why do our cast members try not to meet our audiences in costume?
-Costumes are an important part of telling the story, and should be respected as tools to help
create the “holy moments” when we are all sharing in the theatre experience of the story. To
wear or show them off outside of the storytelling moments can communicate a lack of respect
for the suspension of disbelief we ask of the audience and the tools used to tell the story itself.
Why does the FOA cast so many people in their musicals?
-The FOA highly values the fact that positive arts experiences creates positive change in the
individual and the community. And while excellence in the final product is highly important, it is
equally important that each participant in FOA arts programming has a positive experience from
which they can grow. This perspective varies slightly from another artistic perspective in that we
value as extremely important the process of creating and what experiencing that process can do
for an individual and our community. There is another perspective, equally valuable, that places
a higher value on the product created from the artistic process. While the quality of the product
of any creative process is incredibly valuable – of course, look at all the great art of our times
and historically in light of the degree to which it can affect us and effect change – the FOA seeks
to change the individual artist and through them, our community, by valuing each individual artist
and the process by which they create.
Why do we encourage/insist on FOA directors to try to stick to a conservative rehearsal
-The FOA places the highest of value on volunteerism. In fact, volunteers are the foundation
and heart of the theatre programming at the FOA. Because of this, respect for their time is
important. Volunteers, in fact, even contracted and salaried individuals, as well, have lives
outside of FOA programming. Demonstrating a respect and value of their time is a priority.
Why haven’t you done Wicked? Or Aladdin? Or Hamilton?
-Those titles, and many other popular titles known in professional theatre, are not available for
amateur theatres currently. Once they become available, they will be scrutinized according to
the criteria discussed previously to determine if they are a good fit for an FOA season.
Why do the same people “always” get the leads?
-We hear this question periodically, and respect the fact that many people judge based on their
own emotions and experience. This question is obviously a biased one, and based on a false
premise because a strict analysis of past productions will lead to the more accurate conclusion
that the leads and principles cast in FOA productions are based on who auditions and who is
deemed by various directors to be the best fit within the particular cast and show. You will see
repeat performers throughout a season and throughout a series of seasons because they are
the people who audition most regularly, and based on that regularity, their fit within a cast, and
their talent level, will receive more roles than those who only audition periodically or rarely. It is
a law of averages.
Why do FOA directors have a goal of casting 10% to 20% brand new performers to the FOA
stage during each production?
-We want as many people as possible to experience the beauty of creating theatre with a cast
and crew at the FOA because we believe that the principles and practices of the FOA can grow
a person not only artistically, but emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually as well.
-This goal also affects the perception that the same people are cast in productions. Because
the more new faces become part of the FOA family, the higher the chance that new people are
cast as leads and principles as they grow in the FOA community.
How do I ensure that I will be cast in a show?
-The only way to ensure that you will be cast in an FOA production is to become a student in the
FOA Arts Center AND audition for one of the few shows in which students are cast. Otherwise
there is no sure way. You will hear, and it’s true, that if you keep auditioning or even get
involved in other programming at the FOA, future Directors and artistic crew members will get to
know you, and your chances of being offered a role will increase. This is true. Getting cast as a
lead or a principle player is different, though. Being offered a lead or principle role requires an
extra bit of trust and the perfect fit within the vision of the Director, so simply getting more
involved or helping out will never ensure that you will receive a lead or a principle role. But it
does increase your odds.
How do I become a part of the Artistic Crew for a production?
-Members of the Artistic Crew are chosen by the Production Director and the Artistic Director
based on education, experience, and experience at the FOA. If you are interested in working on
a future Artistic Crew, please contact the Artistic Director to submit your name, experience, and
education, and when the opportunity arises, you will be considered for work.
Why are some productions higher quality than others?
-FOA productions vary in quality because of a variety of factors, and while FOA principles are
applied to the process of creating each of them, the talent level and commitment of the cast,
crew, and Director will all play an important part in the quality of the final product. Also,
budgeting issues are sometimes factors in the quality of costumes, set, or technical equipment
Why must I wait 24 hours after an incident before I air a grievance to any leadership at the
-The FOA, as an organization, has several programs going at any point in time. Decisions are
being made, rehearsals are happening, classes are being taught, messages are being sent and
received, and meetings are in session. Because of all this activity, it is inevitable that feelings
will be hurt and offenses will happen periodically. It is best to wait 24 hours to let emotions
settle and more objectivity to be obtained before approaching the person directly involved in the
situation about which you have a grievance. In addition, you will be asked, before meeting with
anyone, to write out your grievance and send it to a specific email address where it can be seen
by the appropriate parties. For more information, please request a copy of the
Volunteer/Parent/Student Agreement that is signed by participants at the FOA.
Is the FOA for amateurs or professional artists?
–Both. Professionals, strictly defined, are compensated financially for their expertise and
consistency for their work. Depending on the program at the FOA, we pay musicians, directors,
teachers, and artistic crews (costumers, lighting technicians, choreographers, music directors,
etc.). Also, some programs are specifically targeted to serve professionals, such as First
Fridays at the Forum Concert Series and Oasis Arts and Eats Fest.
All actors are amateur volunteers. Make no mistake, though, in assuming that the skill level of
some amateurs is not equivalent to some professionals. As we sometimes witness, the career
of a volunteer could just as easily have been a success in musical theatre, costuming, or
whatever they’re great at, instead of their chosen profession of, say, dentist, teacher, attorney, or
How do I become a Board Member?
-Board Members are chosen and vetted by a Nominating Committee. The Nominating
Committee chooses when to put a potential Board member’s name to a vote, and then the
potential member is asked to join the Board of Directors. According to the FOA Board Member
handbook, written and edited by Board Members, potential Board members should be
supporting the Foundation of Arts both financially and with their time, talent, or in
communication with others, have experience in service on an FOA volunteer committee, and
demonstrate temperance, objectivity, and trustworthiness in the community.
Is the FOA supportive of other theatres, studios, and arts organizations?
-Absolutely! Marketing research shows that with regard to the arts, and theatre especially, the
more offerings to a community there are, the more “theatre-goers” are created. In other words,
arts events make other arts events popular. The arts are contagious, so the more the merrier.
Of course, we would rather people not have to choose between events, so we like to spread the
events in our area throughout the calendar. That way everyone can attend everything. But
alas, sometimes that doesn’t work out, and then we’re sad. But always supportive! If you are
involved in another theatre or arts event, contact the Artistic Director at the FOA, and we will try
to make sure your event is advertised here.
What is the relationship between the City of Jonesboro and The Foundation of Arts?
The City of Jonesboro provides upkeep and maintenance to The Forum Theater, which houses
much of the programming of The FOA. In return, The FOA provides year-round arts
programming to the City of Jonesboro and all of Northeast Arkansas. FOA staff is based out of
The Forum Theater and the FOA Arts Center, which houses most of the arts education services
of the FOA. In addition, the FOA staffs the Forum Theater as it can also be rented by the public
for other events besides FOA programming.
The FOA, like many other organizations, receives funding from the Jonesboro Advertising and
Promotion Commission and from a General Operating Support grant from the Arkansas Arts
Council. One of our values is financial transparency, and the FOA is audited annually. Financial
documents and records can be found in our “File Cabinet” page at foajonesboro.org.