Future of the Forum and Foundation of Arts

October 9, 2007 - Posted at 7:11 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-For years the Forum Theatre has served as Jonesboro's main fine arts center, but since its expansion in the late 90's to house The Foundation of Arts, the facility is busting at the seams.

"We're out of room.  We are strictly out of room.  Our educational facility, which once was a bowling alley and a furniture store is now housing hip-hop, dance classes, ballet, art, drama.  All kinds of things are happening over there.  That structural facility was not meant to be a dance facility."

Associate Executive Director, Amanda Emerson-Drennon, says while the Forum is owned and operated by the City of Jonesboro, their educational facility is not.

"The Arts Center is something we rent out, and eventually our lease will be up, and we don't know if we will have a place to be," said Drennon.

So, the non-profit group is hoping that in time, their expansion into the community will lead to an expansion of their own.

"What we see as the light at the end of the tunnel is a new facility that will be the centerpiece and a showcase for Jonesboro, that this community can be proud of.  We hope to be a big part of that," said Drennon.

Of course this means a lot of money, that without help is hard to come by.

"Functioning as a non-profit organization, there's not a lot of money left over in the budget to put towards a multi-million dollar facility, which is what we need to work out of," said Drennon.

But when an organization can bring about so much positive change to hundreds and even thousands of people every year, really, what's to lose?

"To know that you've changed lives like that, I mean, why wouldn't you want a new facility, and a new place for the community, and anybody that is looking for an outreach or a second home," said Drennon.

Issues for the Foundation of Arts:

Currently their operation is split in between the two facilities which required children and employees to often cross a busy street.

The Art Center space also hosts upwards of 60 classes in everything from drama, to music, to dance, and art all within just three major practice spaces.

Also included in the Art Center is the Forum's scene shop hosting only 8 foot ceilings to build sets requiring walls in upwards of 12 or more feet in many occassion.  This also requires sets to be carried accross the street and reassembled.

Then there is the backstage space at the Forum which can hold approximately 35 people.  The Nutcracker and most of the summer musicals have a cast of more than 100 requiring extra actors to hang out across the street until their scene.

How you can help:

You can sponsor the Foundation of Arts monetarely by helping programs for youth come to life or even by making a donation towards a new facility that would house all of the programs together.

Volunteers are needed as well to help with fundraising, publicity, classes, on-stage performance, backstage construction, on committees, and more.

For more information on how you can help visit the Foundation of Arts website at www.jonesborofoa.com.

You can also contact them at 870-935-2726.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.