Hello, and welcome to the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre in conjunction with Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation! It is my honor to tell you a little bit about the history of our program.
In 1999, two high school directors, Kirby Volz and Jeanette Walsh, started a summer theatre program with Fort Wayne Community Schools. This program was designed so that eager high school students from any area high school would have an opportunity to spend their summer vacation involved in the theatre. The program was based around the ideas of furthering arts education within our community while also training the students to a higher skill-set as young performers.
Three years later, the funding for this summer program was cut and the future became uncertain for many of its student performers. Feeling strongly about the program, the obvious decision by the programs director’s, Kirby and Jeanette, was to keep the program going by seeking funding from outside sources and supporters.
Through the hard work of the students, parents, local business, and program sponsors, enough money was raised that the program was able to continue, hence- fourth known as the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre.
The program went on to flourish, providing the opportunity for summer involvement of high school theatre students for the next 16 years. Under the continued direction of Kirby Volz and his amazing support team, the total student involvement since the program’s conception has reached to over 9,200 students from close to 30 different schools around Northern Indiana. This growing number includes student actors, musicians, designers, and technicians. FWSMT is proud to have a long list of alumni now working as actors, educators, dancers, designers, and technicians all around the world including professional national and regional tours. The FWSMT has performed to an audience base of over 42,000 theatre-goers over the last 20 years.
Then in 2019, FWSMT team was lucky enough to have Leslie Koehlinger Russ come into our lives. With her help Kirby and I created Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation Inc. This non-for-profit organization is now the umbrella under which FWSMT sits. Thanks to Leslie, FWSMT will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.
I am so excited for the future growth of this program, and proud of the impact it has already had on so many young performers. Please join us as we continue to thrive and grow FWSMT and IMTF!