Lindsay Bauer brings her theatrical skills to her role as director of the arts center

FAIRFIELD — Lindsay Bauer loves live entertainment, especially theater.

It was thanks to the theater that she was able to overcome her childhood shyness.

“I was ridiculously uncomfortable with myself and with people listening to me or looking at me,” she said. “In children’s theater I was able to find my voice and have so much more confidence in myself. Since high school, I have always taught children’s theater, no matter where I lived or worked. There will always be someone who needs it. »

Today, Bauer puts those social skills she learned in theater to good use as executive director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. In fact, Bauer’s other career as a theater performer is how she discovered Fairfield in the first place. In 2019, Bauer performed at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in a production called “Map of My Kingdom,” a play about farm succession. She still plays this role to this day and does six or seven shows a year.

As a young girl, Bauer dreamed of becoming a baker. She said she is a “stress baker”, meaning she relieves stress by making something in the kitchen. However, she learned that professional bakers have to get up early, at 4 a.m., and that was not her life.

She turned to her other love, acting, and continued her career by earning a theater degree from Northwest College in Orange City, Iowa. After college, she moved to Minneapolis and later to Chicago, where she studied acting. After the birth of their son, she and her husband decided life in Chicago was too expensive and moved back to Orange City, where they lived for five years. Bauer worked as director of Orange City Arts, the city’s arts and theater program. She also ran a theater studio for children in grades 1-12.

Bauer said her experience taught her that she was happiest when involved in the performing arts.

“And I’m not good at anything else,” she joked. “If I want to save the world, I have to do it through art.”

Bauer began looking for other opportunities in 2020 and came across the executive director job posting at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. She was hired that summer and started her new job on August 1 of that year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a terrible time for performing arts centres, which saw their income dry up as they were forced to cancel one show after another.

“As soon as we could, we started hosting outdoor programs in the summer of 2021,” Bauer said. “It went so well that we decided to continue in the years to come. I love the idea of ​​free programming, where there are no financial barriers to participation. »

That year, the arts center launched an outdoor summer series that offered the public six free concerts held every two weeks.

The arts center just started its 2022-23 season of indoor performances in September, and Bauer is hard at work planning for next year’s season.

“I often have times when I can’t remember what year it is,” she joked. “I’m already looking at a contract for April 2024, and I was like, ‘Wow, it’s so long!'”

Since his responsibilities are so many and varied, Bauer devised a system of focusing on one type of task for each day of the week. On Mondays, she works on staff and facility improvements. Tuesdays are devoted to programming, booking shows for next year. Wednesdays are for promoting the programs through press releases and interviews. Thursdays are for fundraising and Fridays for “cleaning up,” tackling all the odd jobs she didn’t have access to in the first four days of the week.

Bauer said the arts center wouldn’t be as successful as it is without great staff.

“We have great people working here, people I can trust and collaborate with and whose ideas and opinions are valuable to me,” she said.

Bauer said she likes working in a place where she feels what she does matters.

“Not all of us have the chance to say that what we do really makes a difference, and I believe what we do makes a difference,” she said. “We create transformational experiences that create community in a unique place in Iowa.”

Lindsay Bauer stands at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts inside the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. Bauer performed a play at the theater in 2019 and the following year he was hired as the arts center’s executive director. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

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Lindsay Bauer is executive director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

Lindsay Bauer had a difficult task ahead of her when she was hired as executive director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. Bauer planned an outdoor summer concert series for the following year, which went so well that she did another one in 2022. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

William E. Bennett