This is the final installment in a series of stories about people who have been involved in the 50-year history of the Summer Arts Festival.
If anyone has lived and breathed the Springfield Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival for 41 of its years 50 years it’s Chris Moore.
As Arts Council executive director from 1974 through 2013 and now director emeritus, he’s had a guiding hand in its evolution from summer event to Springfield summer tradition.
A Fairborn native, Moore was a University of Cincinnati music major and became a teacher, working in Dayton schools and even at Shawnee High School.
But the call of the stage never left his blood. Moore’s first taste of the Arts Festival was during the summer of 1972. He stayed around to work in a larger role in the 1973 festival, and that should’ve been it.
That fall Moore returned to Cincinnati to pursue his master’s degree. But a grant he co-wrote with Esther Manuel that summer was awarded, resulting in a new direction for the arts and an executive director position that he left school to start in January 1974.
The performing and educational world’s loss was Springfield art’s gain, as Moore plunged into his new job.
“Having studied to be a performer, I could tap into the artist’s needs,” Moore said. “We’d always wanted to improve the facilities, and in those early years it was quite a struggle.”
The Arts Festival budget then was around $35,000. Moore said if the board would take care of the fundraising aspect, he’d use his strengths in areas including event planning and program development.
It was the right combination, as Moore realized the community needed a wider variety of arts than were then offered, including bigger names to Memorial Hall, Springfield’s top performing venue in the years before the Kuss Auditorium where the Broadway and Beyond series is presented.
While Moore has left the Arts Council’s center stage, planning, producing shows and entertaining the area will likely continue. He guides High Street United Methodist Church’s Sanctuary Series, which features monthly concerts and performances for free, mostly with local or state artists.
And he’s even gone back to his first profession — teaching. He currently enjoys substituting in the Northeastern Local Schools.
And, yes, that includes working with the Kenton Ridge choir.
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