Giving

Hello FOA Friends and Family,

Achievements take time and progress isn’t always immediately apparent.  Whether it’s a collaborative art like theatre and dance or a painting for your best friend, transforming something into better won’t happen overnight.  Courage, self-discipline, and patience are necessary for the new creation to become what it’s meant to be.

In March, all of us began a journey of transformation, and the FOA was no exception.  We were faced with a choice:  close down and stop working the mission, or find ways to bring the mission to the community that comply with the state’s mandates.  We chose to enact a plan that gave the FOA the best chance to survive this challenge and provide opportunities for people who needed unifying opportunities for their mental and spiritual health.  Lots of brainstorming and problem solving from a variety of advisors enabled us to stay open when most arts organizations closed (for the time being). We can debate the merits of closing or continuing to provide, but in the darkest moments of the crisis, we chose to focus on what we do well in hopes that we could help our community.  And I believe we did.

  • We postponed the planned season and replaced it with less expensive investments that served the students who weren’t able to attend school.  Many parents of those who participated said that their children truly needed those interactions and the return to some type of “normalcy.”
  • We provided arts camps for children of essential workers throughout the summer so people who needed to work could do so.
  • We collaborated with Ritter Communications to provide local musicians a means of income, while sharing their live music, virtually, via Ritter’s Tube Town channel, from The Forum Theater.  Ritter and the FOA reached 101,000 viewers through
  • We created a plan for hosting events in a safe way that was approved by the Arkansas Department of Health and followed it.
  • We brainstormed ways to raise money while providing arts opportunities and came up with “Jonesboro’s Got Talent”, held in Rotary’s Centennial Plaza.  The winners worked with talented professionals and will perform on the Forum stage this fall.
  • We provided safe events on Fridays throughout the summer and called them “Plaza Fridays” in hopes of helping the downtown restaurants who were serving curbside to gain more business.

We are continuing to schedule events that follow State Guidelines for safer practices during this time.  Through the Fall and Spring, we have set goals and plan to continue serving through the FOA’s mission.  I am so excited about overcoming the challenges thrown at our organization!  There is much to do to meet the needs of our community through the arts.

On a personal note, I am proud of the mental and emotional journey we as a staff and FOA family have been on since March.  Before, I fully believed that the FOA was a place of unity for everyone.  I believed that the unifying factor for every person was the collaboration that occurred when we created something beautiful.  While I’ve always known that you can’t please everyone, I sought to serve as many people as possible with how we were conducting the mission and sought peace and approval often at the cost of my own personal wellness. 

Since living the challenges of the past few months, I realize a reality that’s been there all along;  Always wanting to please others just doesn’t work, and being ready to sometimes displease others in order to do what you believe is right makes us stronger. 

I still believe that the FOA is a place of unity.  As long as I’m here, we will welcome everyone who seeks to create and enjoy together from a place of love, regardless of their color, creed, or politics.  But I know that sometimes we must choose a path that others might not, and often that leads to judgment or divisiveness.  Choosing a path takes courage to deal with that judgment, even as the fear of failure might loom a little heavy some days.  

I am grateful for this experience.  To those who chose to come along beside us, thank you.  Your love for this mission has created a bond that is strong.  To those who chose not to participate with us, we respect your choice and hope that someday you’ll join in again because we will always consider you a friend.

And as we move forward, we hope that the plan we prayed over and created in the Spring will hold true though the most difficult times that may be to come.   

In the meantime, we will continue this transformational journey with courage, self-discipline, and patience.  My prayer is that you can continue yours in just the same way.

With a Heart for the Arts,

Kristi

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