Shannon Jones had never been to Arkansas before joining the TheatreSquared (T2) staff in 2014. Nearly a decade later, the two have grown up together.
After joining T2 as an assistant stage manager, Jones has risen to second-in-command at the state’s largest professional theater, overseeing myriad operations and a staff of about 100 full- and part-time workers.
Jones also helped navigate T2 into a new $31 million, 50,000-square-foot home in 2019, then helped lead the organization through new realities when a global pandemic crippled the arts industry a year later.
That time frame is when she transitioned from stage management to leadership, allowing her to do similar work on a larger scale.
“Thinking for the whole organization expanded my capacity to think creatively and to be adaptive,” she explained. Jones credited longtime executive director Martin Miller for much of her growth. “He was an incredible mentor and provided that perspective.”
A Florida native, Jones sang and danced as a child, having always nurtured a creative bug inside her. She thought of pursuing a medical career but missed the arts’ creative aspect.
A high school teacher introduced Jones to the theater, specifically stage management, and she hasn’t looked back.
“It’s the glue that holds the production together, and that resonated with me,” she said.
Jones needed three years to earn a bachelor’s degree in stage management from the University of Central Florida in 2011. Before settling in Northwest Arkansas three years later, her career as a freelance stage manager took Jones throughout the country.
“The connectivity and access to so many people are incredible,” she said. “I enjoy that about my work. The opportunity to connect is the nature of theater, and that’s why it’s so near and dear to my heart.”