Phoenix Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, Michael
Barnard, talks with us about the power of perseverance and giving back. His long list of accomplishments started with
the Phoenix Theatre in 1989 as their first production manager. Barnard then
went on to become Senior Show Director for Disney Corporation in Anaheim where
he directed hundreds of corporate events and stage shows, and as a freelancer
for more than 15 years with Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan.
Michael Barnard returned to Phoenix Theatre in
1999 and was recently awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, one of our
nation’s most prestigious awards, in recognition of his perseverance and
service in his industry.
The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which startedduring the Reagan Administration according to Barnard, is awarded each year toselect individuals who, “demonstrate an aspiration for giving back to one’scommunity, for promoting cultural diversity, for acceptance of others, foradding to the cultural fabric of one’s community to really elevate the Americanspirit in a very positive way, and also a sense of patriotism,” says Barnard. TheEllis Island Medal of Honor is only awarded to upwards of 100 individuals nationally.
With all of the divisiveness in the world, Barnard
believes in focusing on the positive.
Barnard says, “every time something (negative)
is reported, I try to find and look for something that can be the opposite of
that, to inspire me, to find an individual or a purpose or a story that’s out
there that activates us and elevates us in a positive way.”
He believes that both our human and American spirit
will begin to accept one another as equal and important and that we all can
inspire one another and live positively.
Michael Barnard’s perseverance and positive
mindset has contributed greatly to his success.
Inspired by Abraham Lincoln, Barnard keeps a
large picture in his office. “PERSEVERANCE” is in large letters at the bottom
of the picture.
For Barnard, Abraham Lincoln is as a reminder
of someone who kept fighting. Defeated over and over, both in politics and in
business, Lincoln finally won and was elected
the 16th President of the United States. Barnard goes on to say how Lincoln portrays
someone who kept going.
Phoenix Theatre has made a national name for
itself, and is just one year away from their 100th year. Their
mission statement is of acceptance and hope.
Michael Barnard believes theatre offers each and
every person a live and uniquely individual experience being created, at that
moment, by the energy between the audience and the performers . In today’s age
of computers and mini-screens, this is a great way for the community to
connect. The shows bring the community together through its fictional, famous,
historical and untold stories. Barnard says that theatre is where everyone is
accepted. A wide range of demographics,
both young and old, talk to each other.
“Theatre creates and develops the facets of
your sole,” says Barnard. “You learn to listen, and to not judge and to embrace
the human spirit”.
Producing Artistic Director of the Phoenix
Theatre, Barnard, received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of
his belief in giving back to our community and his ability to persevere.
The power of perseverance and giving back is
something that Michael Barnard cherishes deeply, and he believes it is “Truly
the American Dream and Truly the American Spirit”.