When I was about twelve years old, my parents enrolled me in a drama class on Saturday mornings at the Joslyn Art Museum. For our class recital, our teacher, Mrs. Marx, took us through the galleries to select a painting to use as the topic for our final play, which we would author and perform as a group.
We chose the painting, “The Attic Door,” and our play became about a family who was threatened with losing their home due to the expansion of Interstate 480 (which was cutting a swath through old, established neighborhoods in Omaha at the time).
At that young age, I was able to see how theater could be used to tell a story about an important topic that was affecting people in our community. Through theater, I had a voice to express my opinion and be heard. Even before taking the drama classes, I always loved theater and enjoyed performing, but it wasn’t until that specific experience that my eyes were opened to how art can and should say important things!
As the Director of Programs for the Nebraska Arts Council, Marty Skomal’s responsibilities include oversight of all grant programs for arts and non-arts organizations, education and under-served communities. He is also directly responsible for arts education initiatives in the areas of staff development, policy and school reform issues. He has expertise in the areas of program evaluation, strategic planning and program design. He serves as NAC liaison to the Nebraska Department of Education and serves on the board of Nebraskans for the Arts.
He is also former director of Prairie Visions, Nebraska’s statewide Consortium for Arts Education. He has served as editor of the Flatwater Arts Companion, and his writings have also been featured in publications of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the Nebraska Music Educators Association and in Arts Education Policy Review. He has served as an Arts Administration Fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.