The Power of One and the Influence of the Arts

The following column was written by Bev Ford, Executive Director of the Marion Palace Theatre.
While I am most comfortable on the front of house (FOH) side of the theatre, where we deal with the “business” of this performance arts space, I have spent some time behind a microphone on the stage side of things as well.

Mind you, it’s not been as an actor or a dancer; rather a singer.  Well…singing.  Thanks to my fifth grade teacher, Val Freeman Hedges, who believed in my vocal abilities and encouraged me to sing, I’ve been singing ever since.  I love her for it to this day.

Now I’m not always certain how those I work with or live with feel about her influence in my life.  I’m sure there are times they’re thinking, “SILENCE IS GOLDEN!” Because if you spend much time around me, you know that music is a must in my life.  I sing, hum, whistle, listen to the radio….well you get the picture.

I can clearly recall standing shoulder to shoulder on those little brown choir risers just singing my heart out.  Before I knew what hit me, Miss Freeman (as I lovingly referred to her back in the day) pulled me gently by the hand and asked me to sing — BY MYSELF — the beginning portion of The Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi.  I don’t remember if I sang on key or not but she told me I was wonderful.

Our little fifth grade choir traveled to the middle school to perform and to our local branch of Ohio State University. We even sang on the radio.  Each time we sang, I stood stiff as a board next to the piano to belt out my solo.  And each time I did, my confidence grew just a bit with Miss Freeman’s reassuring words, “Great job.”

Whether it was a great job or not is really irrelevant.  Her confidence in me bred confidence in myself.  It was life changing.  She was life changing.  The power of her words, her belief in me, her support…they made a difference in me.

I find myself wanting to replicate that experience for others through my work at the Palace.  I find her influence influencing me still.

In other flash backs, I can still remember the words to another song Miss Freeman taught us as fifth graders…

Snow, snow when are you falling?  Snow, snow none of your stalling.
               Autumn’s gone and winter’s here; it’s just about that time of the year, you know….For a beautiful snow.

I don’t mean to be a hater, but I would like to go on record as retracting every single time I’ve sung those words since I was in the fifth grade.  And, believe me, there have been plenty of times.  Every winter.  Since 1970.

I’ve never enjoyed winter.  And this year, I’ve tried extra hard to keep my complaining about the cold to a minimum.  However while we’re on the topic, I am especially finished with this year’s ongoing wintry blast of weather.  It has interfered with rehearsal schedules, auditions, school shows, touring artist concerts and day-to-day operations.

At times I hear the words, “Enough already!” ringing out inside my head.  Anyone else ready to just skip spring and jump right into summer?

But in a more rational moment, when I’m thinking clearly and haven’t just walked the dogs in below zero temperatures, I’m not really advocating we jump past spring because we have some AMAZING shows at the Palace this spring, and I wouldn’t want our patrons to miss any one of them.

If you’re not from my neck of the woods but you enjoy the performing arts, please take some time to read about all of the Marion Palace Theatre shows on our website (  There are local productions, as well as some exciting touring artist performance opportunities.  If you are anywhere within driving distance of this amazing, historic theatre, I hope you’ll find some time to join us in the coming months.

Finally, I’d also like to share some thoughts with you regarding the arts in general…not just my love for music.

The arts are a powerful tool; whether it’s singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting or any other medium.  Whether you are participating or observing.  The arts are good for the individual and for the community where it takes place.

There is research on the books that indicates a thriving arts community leads to greater economic development in communities.  In fact, I recently read an economic development newsletter that noted historically powerful countries have invested in public art, architecture and music…and the arts have directly improved the quality of life these places offer their residents.

Statistics further reveal the presence of a dynamic arts scene is evidence of a community’s ability to serve the needs of top talent – and the presence of top talent helps to attract and retain top employers.

The power of one to influence an individual, just as Miss Freeman did for me all those years ago, is significant and important and I want to be a part of those stories as individuals take the stage in local productions at this historic theatre.

But I also want to advocate for the growth and economic development of our community through the influence of the arts. Through your attendance at shows and your contributions to arts organizations, you are paving the way for ongoing growth and economic development.

Thank you for supporting the arts.

About Marion Palace Theatre

This historic Marion Palace Theatre located in downtown Marion, Ohio was built by John Eberson in 1928. Over his lifetime, Eberson and his son built hundreds of theatres. The Marion Palace is one of approximately 18 Eberson atmospheric theatres still left standing in the world.

This cultural home is offers a diverse range of year round entertainment opportunities including live performances, movies, educational school matinees, theatre camps and more. More information at