Good morning, dear friends! We had quite a weekend up in the northwest corner of Cook County at the Illinois Theatre Association’s 2nd Annual Red Carpet Gala where Paramount Theatre was among the honorees being recognized state-wide. I attended with our Marketing Director, Jamie Gronwick, where dinner was served, and with it, an eye-opening experience for us. We were not aware of the dedicated advocacy for theatre excellence that has been invested by the members of this organization all these many, many years. It began to dawn on both Jamie and me that this advocacy was mobilized by a long-time endorsement of professionals devoting their lives to theatre arts education. One after another, teachers, educators and youth program developers of all ages and experience approached the podium to accept their award of honor. As their commitment to audience development and young students became profoundly clear, my esteem for this organization grew through the evening.

I believe there is great purpose to Paramount’s presence there that was unknown to me before that night: we are building a school, The Paramount School of Performing Arts.


Knowing I was asked to give the keynote address for the breakfast conference the next morning, I approached our Director of Education and Community Engagement, Shannon Cameron, about a week back for some advice. Shannon said she was going to the meeting. I said, “I’ll pick you up!” In the car on the way there, we talked and talked about Paramount’s school and what perfect timing this is for her to meet ITA, whom Shannon had already reached out to, and for these folks to meet her. I felt in my gut, Saturday night and Sunday morning were about making a new beginning. I asked Shannon to share the keynote address duties with me and talk about theatre arts education. Asking ITA’s Executive Director, Aimee-Lynn Newlan, to have me forgo the podium and have a less formal talk-back with everyone, we pulled our chairs together, and with Shannon and I side by side, we sat down as a group to talk about our potential for working together. Ms. Cameron captivated everyone and was a total inspiration and motivator. Back at the office yesterday, Shannon let me know she has been emailing back and forth with our new friends at ITA.

There is so much hope for a bright future here starting indeed by engaging with our community!


Love & thanks,