Born in St. Louis, Martin Miller spent most of his childhood in Fayetteville and considers that his hometown. Through four years at college in Minnesota, then two years of graduate school in Chicago and working at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Miller often returned to Fayetteville to see friends.
He attended a performance of Rabbit Hole at the Walton Arts Center in 2009 and was at once struck by the beauty of the production and the sparseness of the crowd.
“It was one of the best theater experiences I’d ever had — in Chicago or anywhere else,” Miller said. So, where was the audience?
That was the missing ingredient. “I thought, ‘Northwest Arkansas is the perfect place for professional theater. There is so much hunger for the arts, it’s such a philanthropic environment, and the quality of the work was already so good,’” he said.
Around that time, he reconnected with Robert Ford, who had directed Miller as a teenage play-actor. Ford is artistic director of what was then a budding professional theater company, TheatreSquared.
Miller joined T2 as executive director and moved back to Fayetteville.
In the eight years since, T2’s audience grew from about 3,000 to more than 40,000. Its annual budget went from $160,000 to about $2.5 million.
“It’s amazing what this community was ready for and is ready for,” he said.
Now, construction is underway on a $34 million, 50,000-square-foot permanent home for T2, scheduled to open in 2019.
“It’s just great to be part of the story of what’s happening in the arts in NWA,” Miller said.
In his spare time, Miller likes hiking, traveling and spending time with his wife and three kids.