The new director of the V.J. Wilkins Family Center for the Arts is beginning the new year with new plans for the future.
Director of Operations Jamie Hollon has plans to “right-size” the offerings that can be found at the Burford Theatre.
“Right now, we’re in a reinvention stage,” she said. “We’re looking back over what we’ve done to determine how to move forward.”
By looking back on what has been done before, Hollon can see what was successful and what was not. “I’m making sure we’re doing what the community needs,” she said.
To that end, Hollon said surveys will be available this month. The surveys aren’t just available online — she also will have paper copies available in the Burford business office.
Hollon said she hopes the feedback will help to shape arts programming moving forward.
“If we don’t have the audience, we don’t have a theater,” she said.
Hollon settling in
“I became interested (in this position) because it was something I could do to give back to the community,” Hollon said.
To create, inspire and encourage others are among the goals she has set for herself in her new position.
Some of her efforts will include offering more scholarships to the community for programs that are offered at the Burford.
In previous years, some scholarships have been built into the grants that paid for educational classes.
That is the plan moving forward, as well, with the hope of creating more of those opportunities.
“I can’t say it will be a lot, but it’s a start,” Hollon said of the scholarship opportunities.
Programs for kids
Asked if she had any programs she was passionate about, Hollon said, “Anything involving the children … I believe the children are the future.
“If we can encourage and inspire them through the arts now, then they’ll be more likely to continue those things as they grow older.”
Art Through the Ages is a free program that is offered currently at the V.J. Wilkins Family Center for the Arts.
This program pairs young children with adults living in retirement homes for a set amount of time, during which they create art together.
There also are intentions of having live productions, but since the theater is still in the process of being renovated, the reality of live shows lies further in the future.
But there has been some work behind the scenes toward developing a community theater program.
“Down the road, five to 10 years from now, my hope is to have a live production every quarter,” Hollon said.
Hollon has been in Arkansas City for a little more than a year after moving here with her family from Wichita.
She comes from a family of entrepreneurs, a start in life that pushed her to own a business of her own at one time and also to pursue an education in business.
Hollon holds dual master’s degrees and is less than a month away from defending her dissertation to receive her doctoral degree. “My hope is to hear, ‘Congratulations, Doctor,’ at the end of it,” she said.
If all goes well, the degrees she holds will be a master of business administration, a master’s degree in educational psychology and a doctorate in education leadership.
“The educational side allows me to write curriculum and review curriculum for our arts department as we continue to build and grow,” Hollon said. “The MBA, of course, allows me to run a business.”
Hollon’s husband, Chris, is employed by Cowley College as its executive director of institutional effectiveness.
The couple have been married for slightly more than a year, but they have been together for three and known each other for five.
They are a blended family, but Chris Hollon treats her two children like his own.
“I’ve been very blessed in that I married a man that accepted I had children before the marriage,” said Jamie Hollon. “My children’s biological father and my husband have a great relationship, as well.”
Their son, Malachi, will be 12 years old this month and their daughter, Peyton, is 9.
Both children regularly and willingly volunteer their own time to the theater and the events that take place there. “They’re amazing kiddos,” she said.
Reaching out to others
Hollon is looking for more individuals to become involved at the Burford Theatre.
In an email Jan. 4, she invited current and prospective members of Ark City Arts to attend an annual meeting Jan. 25.
Social hour starts at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. in the Burford, located at 118 S. Summit St.
“I hope to see you all at our upcoming events in January,” Hollon said.
“Please remember that we are a 501(c)3 organization, and we rely heavily upon the members and those that attend our events to help keep the Burford funded and running for another year.”
Those interested in becoming involved with the arts center can contact Hollon at the Burford office, located at 112 S. Summit St.
Upcoming events at the Burford Theatre include:
- 2 p.m. Jan. 7 — “Mary Poppins” will be shown on the big screen for $5 a ticket at the door;
- Popcorn, soda and water will be available for purchase.
- 7 p.m. Jan. 8 — first practice for the Burford Singers, led by Vic Olmstead;
- 7 p.m. Jan. 20 — tribute to Carole King, featuring Julie Sutton and guests;
- Tickets are $12.50 if purchased before Jan. 10.
- Tickets are $15 after Jan. 10 or at the door.
- Tickets are available for purchase online at burfordtheatre.com.
- 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25 — annual Ark City Arts member meeting;
- 7 p.m. Jan. 27 — “Singin’ in the Rain” will be shown on the big screen.