Jamie Ulmer

Theater Director, Beatrice

Growing up on a farm in rural Nebraska, I was extremely fortunate that the school system supported and strongly encouraged active and high quality participation in arts education. This was strengthened by the dedicated and talented educators who consistently pushed for standards of achievement beyond the normal expectation of students. My first memory of music and theatre comes from attending a dress rehearsal of the high school's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" (presented during the school day for the elementary students even!). While I was too young to truly understand the story, moments from that production are still emblazoned in my mind; townspeople coming down the aisles singing "Tradition" and the truly scary (to a first or second grader) dream sequence. In a town of just 1,300 the arts played a vital role not only in the school but the community as a whole. Here the same kids who were on the football team were just as competitive to get selected for show choir. It wasn't until much later that I discovered this was the exception, not the rule. Thanks to that nurturing educational experience in the arts, today I am able to make a career as a director and arts administrator and actually do it in Nebraska. It's not where you come from or where you are that matter, but thanks to the arts it is what you choose to do wherever you find yourself are that truly matters.