The Power of Perseverance: Theatre Legend Shares The Story Of His Success

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 to his industry.

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which started during the Reagan Administration according to Barnard, is awarded each year to select individuals who, “demonstrate an aspiration for giving back to one’s community, for promoting cultural diversity, for acceptance of others, for adding to the cultural fabric of one’s community to really elevate the American spirit in a very positive way, and also a sense of patriotism”. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is only awarded to “upwards of 100 individuals” nationally each year.

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 a reminder of someone who kept fighting. Defeated over and over, both in politics and in business, Lincoln finally won when he was elected the 16th President of the United States. Barnard goes on to say how Lincoln portrays someone who kept going, refusing defeat.

Phoenix Theatre has made a national name for itself with a mission statement of acceptance and hope. The Phoenix Theatre is just one year away from celebrating 100th years and Michael Barnard has been a big part of the Theatre’s success.

Barnard believes theatre offers each and every person a live and uniquely individual experience that is created, in the 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 fictional, famous, historical and untold stories. Barnard goes on to say that theatre is where everyone is accepted, where 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, Barnard, received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of his belief in giving back to our community, his ability to persevere, and his commitment to the Phoenix Theatre.

The power of perseverance and giving back is something Michael Barnard believes is “Truly the American Dream and Truly the American Spirit”.

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