Shannon Martin is only a month into her new position as the operations director at the Burford, but there already are many changes happening.

Chief among these is a name change for the Arkansas City Area Arts Council.

On the whole, however, daily operations at the Burford largely will remain the same as Martin settles in to her new position.

The Dexter resident brings experience in operating a venue to the historic Burford Theatre, including the booking of entertainment acts.

Burford rebranding process

The official name of the facility is the “V.J. Wilkins Family Center for the Arts at the Burford Theatre,” which is located at 118 S. Summit St. in Arkansas City. But there also are other offices in the complex that are associated with the arts council.

Martin said the full formal name of the Burford Theatre is a bit of a mouthful, so she is looking for something simpler and more effective. “The whole facility will now be known as Burford Theatre Arts,” she said.

The legal name of her employer will remain the Arkansas City Area Arts Council, but the new moniker should help to consolidate the way in which individuals refer to the Burford Theatre.

There have been many other names that have been associated with the Burford complex through the years, she said, such as “Ark City Arts.”

However, Martin said Burford Theatre Arts was chosen because the name “Burford” is what everyone associates with the structure.

Martin’s family, background

New Burford Theatre director Shannon Martin

Photo by Jeni McGee

New Burford Theatre director Shannon Martin.

Martin and her husband, Grady, also operate the Stone Barn Farm and Log Cabins, which are located 1 mile north of Dexter.

“Our four children include Micah Waggoner, who (is) married to Andy Waggoner, of Arkansas City, and (my) two beautiful grandchildren, Riley, who is a sophomore at K-State, and 10-year-old twins Wade and Wyatt,” said Shannon Martin.

She is originally from Iola, but has lived in a few other towns in Kansas. She also has interest in both travel and hiking.

“I have a background in grant writing, entrepreneurship and organizational development,” Martin said.

She also has a master’s degree in education.

Getting her feet wet

“I’m trying to figure out all of the operations,” Martin said of her first few weeks at the Burford.

For now, in addition to scheduling events for this year, she is working on grant writing and scheduling events into 2019.

One of the big draws of this position, for Martin, was the historic building itself.

“I love old buildings and historical preservation/renovation projects,” she said. “I love this building. I think it’s a hidden treasure in this county. One of my goals is to get more people in here to see how incredible it is.”

The last time Martin was in the Burford, prior to her employment, was while she was dating her husband 12 years ago.

“First time I walked in, for my initial interview, I was blown away,” she said. “I had no idea how fabulous it was!”

Moving forward

Martin outlined some of her goals for future Burford events.

“I want to have a wide variety of events and activities in the theater, and even some of the other spaces,” she said.

“We have a gallery space and an education room, so we could have art exhibits and classes.”

Right now, there are monthly movies, and some events already are scheduled for the week of Arkalalah.

They include a concert with Rick Stitzel and his band, the showing of the Etzanoa documentary — “Quivira: Conquistadors on the Plains” — and class reunions.

“I’d like to bring in diverse types of entertainment — dancing, music, presentations,” Martin said.

“It’s a great stage that could be used for a lot of things.”

Involvement opportunities

The future will hold more opportunities to become involved at the Burford, Martin indicated.

Right now, there are ongoing summer arts programs, which will culminate in a play later this summer.

PrairieFest will come back next year, she said, but there are no solid plans for the event yet.

“In December, we’re going to have an interactive ‘Christmas Vacation’ movie,” Martin added.

The event will be geared toward adults and will have an open bar. There also will be interactive activities during the movie.

Construction almost done

In the next few months, the construction phase of the Burford renovation will near completion, after more than a decade.

The mezzanine will be done first, featuring fixed seating for around 300 people.

“It will double the capacity of the theater,” Martin said.

The green rooms, located under the stage, also will be completed.