A Blog by Austin Sandy
The Foundation of Arts….it’s a place I’ve called home since 2004. And it’s a place full of little miracles. I walked through The Forum doors as an eleven year-old to audition for Charlotte’s Web. And looking back fourteen years later, that one spring day is a day that changed my life forever and introduced me to a family like no other.
As a child, there’s no place quite like the Forum stage. It’s a place where families come together and use their talents to pull off little miracles for the Northeast Arkansas community. Little miracles? Well, with each passing show, I have had the chance to see families like mine flocking to The Forum and feeding their passion for the arts together. It’s a place to forget about the pain of the real world for a few hours. It’s a place to turn off the phone and focus on the fun for an evening. It’s a place where excitement replaces stress at least for a moment. We all live a reality full of clutter (for some it’s pain, for some it’s stress, for some it’s work, for some it’s family) but at the Foundation of Arts, we put the clutter away and take a chance to play. I’m not sure what kind of magic The Forum has within it’s walls….or maybe it’s just those little miracles that make my worries go away while I focus on the project at hand.
2004 was just the beginning of my family’s experience at the FOA together. It was our time to have fun together. My dad grabbed a drill, my mom grabbed some paint, and little Austin grabbed his script and together we worked alongside other families to make my first show a reality.
Fourteen years later, I’m taking this opportunity to reminisce on my time at the FOA as I prepare to move to Texas on March 30th.
After my first show, I was itching to be on stage again with my newfound friends. In 2006, my next opportunity came when I auditioned for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (how fitting that this show has returned to The Forum as I prepare to put an exclamation point on my time here). This show truly ignited my passion for the arts as I began to hone my skills. I took what I learned from the FOA and continued to perform at Valley View High School. And eventually took a little break while I focused on my studies at Arkansas State University, partaking in theatre only as a patron now.
And just when I thought my theatre candle had flickered out….another little miracle. I got a phone call on August 5th, 2016. It was my dear friend Brenna McConaughey who was Assistant Director for 1776. Her one simple phone call brought me back to the stage. The cast of 1776 left a special mark on my heart—I was graduating from ASU and my connection to the arts seemed to getting further from my grasp, but this cast reminded me just how special theatre is. The laughter we shared on that stage was another little miracle and my fellow congressmen probably don’t even know how much I needed their laughter and love during a dramatic change in my life, but they gave of themselves endlessly.
Since then, friendships have blossomed and I’ve continued to learn from each director and volunteer with whom I have worked. I’ve had the opportunity to be my most outrageous self—maybe you had the chance to see my chaos in Nutcracker or Guys and Dolls. And I’ve had the chance to be my most somber self and learn from the dramatic abilities of my fellow actors in 12 Angry Men. No matter the content of the show, I never cease to learn from the miraculous abilities of my FOA family.
And here I am preparing for another dramatic change (the big move) and my FOA family is still right here by my side. As I served as Assistant Director for Seussical this winter, the cast showered me in prayer and in love which gave me the confidence I needed to turn this giant leap in my career into my next little miracle.
On this winding journey, I’ve watched my friends grow and their talents develop. I’ve seen them fall in love with their passions and with each other. I’ve found my happiness in each moment and with each person.
So thank you, FOA, for being there through my biggest milestones.
Thank you for showing me love and excitement.
Thank you for bringing me confidence, joy, and love.
Thank you for each little miracle.
We are all little miracles, and the Forum stage is the place to reveal what miracles can really do.
Mother Ginger 😉