The Arts: Fuel for the Soul (and Community).

When we moved to Jonesboro in August 2015 to open a new business, our daughter’s face was flaming with a reaction to poison ivy.  Beautiful? No. But what was beautiful was the immediate acceptance and warm welcome she received at the Foundation of Arts.  Two weeks before moving, and before her exposure to that botanical nuisance, I registered her for the Ballet Intensive, a two week, day “camp” at the FOA.  I thought it might be helpful for making new friends.  Anxious for so many reasons, hopeful for new friendships, and eager to learn in this new place, I dropped off our eleven year old daughter, unsure if I would get a phone call soon after to pick up an inconsolable, scared tween girl.  Much to my surprise, I never received a phone call in anguish.

For three years the rubber on my tires have worn thin running up Main and down Union, dropping off and picking up a now maturing young lady at the Arts Center where classes are taught for the FOA.  Countless instruction hours and innumerable rehearsals for productions at The Forum Theater, which the City of Jonesboro is so gracious to allow The Foundation of Arts to use.  Dance and art instruction have been our investment, at least for three of our children.  We have two who are naturally gifted in athletics and participate in sports activities, but the beauty they find in daily life is rooted in the arts.

Jonesboro attracted us, entrepreneurs, because of the quality of life.  Until you have lived in a truly disparate town, you don’t realize how alive this city is with things to do.  We CHOSE to come here to raise our family and become part of this community and finding community for our family and each of our children individually has been important.  The Foundation of Arts has been one divine provision for our family in finding the community we were looking for in our new home.    The arts breed compassion and community and can change the relationships between diverse groups of people.  Acting is not faking.  Acting is empathizing.  Sitting elbow to elbow in an art class creates friendships as well as personal masterpieces.  Singing and dancing next to another teaches us to harmonize and synchronize to create something beautiful.  The arts are not exclusive and weren’t meant to be.  The arts teach us compassion and understanding for others while making this city a more beautiful place to live.

There are many good things happening in our city, one of which is the growing arts culture.  We all need exercise for our bodies and our minds, but we also need exercise for our hearts and souls, exercise that goes beyond enjoying what someone else has created and what we observe through a screen.  Compassion, community, and great accomplishments can be found at The Foundation of Arts; it’s time to take advantage of it and see the heart of this city flourish.  The Foundation of Arts deserves more than a kudos, a cheer, or three hundred applause.  Northeast Arkansas needs and deserves a place for the arts to breathe and grow so the soul of this city can be fed and nourished as it has fed and nourished the soul of our family and countless other families across the area.

– Sarah McDaniel

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