Why does our community need The Foundation of Arts?
The arts are valuable simply because they have the greatest potential to enrich lives and improve our society. The arts are everywhere, even when we are unaware of its impact. The arts are everywhere…in music, movies, paintings, theatre, literature, architecture, landscaping, interior design, web design, and any other action that reflects truth and beauty. The FOA wants to harness the power of such creativity so that individuals can discover the potential that lies within them. It is important to have an organization in our region that maintains this value and provides artistic opportunities for all. The FOA is focused on keeping these experiences accessible to every person regardless of race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. We believe that every individual can become more creative and will benefit from participating in the arts. While we fully respect those who are able to become professional artists, we equally value those who do so because of the joy that it brings their lives.
Why do we insist that dancers take a class at the FOA while they are rehearsing for an FOA ballet?
Because the FOA is focused on the safety of its participants and the quality of its programming, we make enrollment in our classes a requirement for participation in a ballet on our stage. We do so to ensure that all dancers in FOA programming have developed the necessary skills and strength to perform without fear of injury to themselves or others. And, because of the limited time allowed for our production rehearsals, we ask that every participant learn these unique techniques in a classroom environment in our Art Center.
Why does the FOA encourage students to take classes from different genres?
We value a well-rounded artist! We believe that students benefit from exposure to various styles even if they are solely focused on one aspect of art. We have found that they will develop faster from such a varied approach and are better able to achieve their goals.
Who decides how much tuition is awarded to families?
The FOA Education & Personnel Committee reviews every application individually and makes decisions based upon a pre-determined set of criteria by our staff and Board of Directors.
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 and is a much-anticipated moment for any aspiring ballerina. At the same time, this transition introduces extreme stress on a dancer’s joints and bone structure in their hips, feet, and ankles. We must then make such decisions carefully and hold a conservative approach to best judge when a still-growing dancer is ready for their own safety and long-term development. Furthermore, we also consider their commitment to dance, work ethic, knowledge of technique, skill mastery, and personal habits in making such an important determination for the individual.
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 performers, but so should what each person puts in their bodies to make them run efficiently. This is true not only for dancers but for all FOA artists who use their “tools” (voice, body, face, etc.).
My child was not advanced to the next level class. Why?
Our Arts Center Instructors genuinely hope to advance students to the next level upon successful completion of a term. At the same time, they are also pressed with ensuring that each student is ready for the challenges ahead of them. This is an important determination that has the potential to affect a student’s development process and the quality of our advanced classes for all our participants. Only those students that demonstrate the ability to behave or perform to the minimum requirements of the next level will be advanced. These evaluations are not arbitrary, nor are they intended to be a reflection of that teacher’s belief in a student’s potential ability. It is simply a tool for us to decide if a student has grasped the concepts necessary to advance or if they need more practice on what has been learned. We make such judgments carefully and with the utmost integrity in light of our learning processes. Be assured: when there are questions as to the objectivity of the instructor, other instructors are asked to observe and are included in the evaluation.
How do I become a teacher?
Arts Center teachers are hired based on their training and experience within the art form they aspire to teach. Our teachers possess either past experience in instruction or have graduated from our Teacher Assistant Program at the FOA Arts Center. For more information or to be considered, contact the Education Programs Director to discuss the hiring process.
What are the process and criteria for choosing shows for the FOA season?
The FOA attempts to provide a balanced season of theatre that serves the various demographics and tastes of our community. A number of factors must be considered when choosing show titles for a season: the cast needed, the target audience, the cost of production and the potential return on our investment, and if we have a director interested in leading that production. Since the FOA must pay for and secure the rights for almost every production, this work begins behind the scenes almost an entire year before we announce our season to the public each summer. Our Artistic Programs Director works throughout the year, assessing the needs of the organization, consulting with the staff and Executive director, conducting and evaluating surveys, submitting requests to publishing companies, and finally presenting a season to the Board of Directors for approval in the spring.
Why does the FOA have so many shows in our season?
There are many different interests, ability levels, and ages represented in our community. We want to meet these needs and 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. The FOA is committed to keeping a revolving door of opportunities so that we may continue to inspire our growing community with the arts.
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 participants the artistic team and crew can serve best, which may determine the minimum age for that year’s production of The Nutcracker. Our youngest dancers may struggle to take direction well and we believe waiting a few years will help them better understand what is being asked of them both on stage and behind the scenes. While this may be disappointing to some, we hope the opportunity to watch the performance from the audience will further inspire our youngest dancers and help them grasp the story better.
Why can’t dancers perform en pointe if they didn’t audition en pointe?
We do not want to rush the process of determining each dancer’s ability to take this important step. Holding to this policy ensures that each dancer maintains their health and consistency during the strenuous rehearsal process of a ballet. This policy also “levels the playing field” in auditions, so that those dancers who have already graduated to this level have the opportunity to be considered first and so that our director is assured that casting roles en pointe will not lead to undue injury.
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. Our Directors must demonstrate that they have more than a cursory knowledge of our process and the art form of theatre: they must be committed to providing excellence in both the process and product for our participants and patrons. We welcome qualified Directors to bring their outside experience which often introduces our community to aspects of theatre that will help us inspire audiences in new ways. At the same time, we ask even the most experienced of Directors to share our value for creating a meaningful process for our volunteers honed over the years at the FOA.
Why doesn’t the Executive or Artistic Director help cast every production?
The FOA is committed to the integrity of the artistic process of our theatre directors who are solely charged with creating the story of our staged productions. While each Director may seek guidance from their selected artistic crew (Assistant Director, Music Director, Choreographers, Costumers, Technical Directors, Stage Managers, etc.) in casting or other artistic decisions, the final elements of the production are up to the contracted individual. As so, the FOA’s Executive Director and Artistic Programs Director keep an intentional distance from casting to better maintain this process. Furthermore, many of our Directors even choose to allow other members of the artistic crew to make the final call on casting when considering their own children or relatives.
What are the basic FOA principles that Directors consider when casting an FOA production?
Casting in theatre requires a careful balancing of priorities. The FOA has outlined several principles to guide this process for each Artistic Team:
Why do we ask our parents or patrons to stay off of the stage after 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 sacred. We communicate this value by asking only those who are actively participating in the production to be present on the stage while they are telling the story.
Why don’t your cast members come into the audience in costume after the production?
Costumes are integral to telling the story and should be respected as tools of the “sacred” theatre experience. To wear costumes off the stage and outside of the story-telling moment can communicate a lack of respect for the suspension of disbelief that is required for the art form of theatre. With that said, we do desire to accommodate those who hope to capture a picture of their family member or friend in costume. And so for one show–usually our opening night–we allow our cast to appear in costume in the house or lobby after the curtain call.
What is behind how we plan our rehearsal schedules?
The FOA understands that all of our participants in theatre are volunteers and likely have other obligations at work, school, or home while they are participating with us. Thus, we make it a priority to value each person’s time and make the most of the moments we are together. Most participants will find they are only needed two to three nights a week during the first six to eight weeks of rehearsals. Our final two weeks often include 4 or 5 intense rehearsals for the entire cast as we prepare the final touches before performing in front of an audience.
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. 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 base such judgment on their emotions or limited perspective. The fact is that this is simply not true no matter how it may appear to the observer. Those who are cast in FOA productions are a result of those who came out to audition, and roles are determined by the Director as he or she uniquely believes individuals to be the best fit for the characters of that show. Secondly, our casting is rarely based solely on talent alone, and any individual who feels neglected in casting should not assume they were unfairly judged on their ability. Observers may see repeat performers throughout a season and even throughout several seasons simply because they are people who audition regularly and, based on other circumstances, may be the best fit for roles within a particular casting.
Why do FOA directors have a goal of casting 10% to 20% 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 in the power of the arts to change lives and impact a community! This value also helps us continually connect with more people who help shape our organization and even change the perception that the same people are cast in all our productions. The more new faces that become part of the FOA family, the higher the chance that those new people are cast as leads as they grow in the FOA community!
How do I ensure that I will be cast in a show?
While there really is no sure way to always secure yourself a role in a production, we encourage everyone to be involved in as much programming at the FOA as they can so that they become known within the organization for being dependable and good-natured: two characteristics our Directors look for in their casting. Getting cast as a lead or a principal is complicated. It requires that you are a good fit for a role within the vision of the Director. But we encourage you to keep honing your craft and auditioning as often as possible. While we guarantee opportunities for our students to be involved in certain performance opportunities, we encourage everyone to keep coming back to audition. The more experience you have, the better you’ll do!
How do I become a part of the Artistic Crew for a production?
Members of the Artistic Crew are chosen by the Director of a production and the Artistic Director based on education, experience, and experience at the FOA. If you are interested in working on a future 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 of higher quality than others?
FOA productions may vary in quality because of a variety of factors. While strong theatre principles are applied to the process of creating each of our productions, we cannot always guarantee the quality of a script nor the abilities or commitment level of the cast, crew, and Director. At other times, our budgetary changes may account for some of the differences between productions, which may affect the quality of costumes, sets, or technical equipment available.
Why must I wait 24 hours after an incident before I air a grievance to any leadership at the FOA?
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 for 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 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 of our programs are specifically targeted to serve professionals, such as First Fridays at the Forum Concert Series and Oasis Arts and Eats Fest. All actors at the FOA are amateur volunteers. Make no mistake, though: the skill level of some of our amateurs is on par with many professionals! As we often witness, our volunteers could have just as easily found success in musical theatre, costuming, or whatever they’re great at, but they instead chose to pursue other equally valuable professions.
Why does the FOA have so many fundraisers?
Our ticket sales, rentals, and class registrations only pay for 60% of what it costs to provide arts experiences to our community. We use fundraisers of all kinds to raise both money for and awareness of our important programming. In addition to fundraising, we also welcome cash donations from individuals and businesses and seek grants from organizations that believe in our mission and want to help our organization reach its potential.
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 the public not to have to choose between two excellent events happening simultaneously, but we are only able to control our programming calendar, which is often planned well in advance of other known events in the community. But of course: we are supportive of what is going on around us! If you are involved in a local theatre or arts event, we encourage you to contact our Artistic Director so we may better coordinate in the future.
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 has been the home of The FOA since 1986. In return, the FOA provides year-round arts programming to the City of Jonesboro and all of Northeast Arkansas. In addition to hosting FOA programming, the Forum Theater is available to be rented by the public for other community events. Similarly, the FOA receives grant funding along with other local organizations from the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotion Commission which is made possible by local tax revenue. For more information on the funding we receive, please refer to the financial documents and records found on our “File Cabinet” page.