By Jen Wiebrand
President of Matchbox Children’s Theatre
For me, it started the first day of kindergarten. Janet and Scott Anderson’s daughter Megan was the first person to talk to me and not make fun of me for my “weird” southern accent.
We became fast friends and pretty inseparable. I had the great fortune of spending a LOT of time at their house and they always treated me like one of the bunch. There, my imagination was sparked! From passing the “spider guts” at the dinner table to sliding down the stairs, we were always laughing and finding the silly in things.
There was always something fun and new at their house. They introduced me to the Matchbox Children’s Theatre.
It was a safe place where I got to perform, paint faces and more importantly, play the best games of hide-and-seek in the costumes. I made amazing memories and even better friends. Their willingness to share their creativity and love for the arts shaped who I am as a person.
Now that I am an adult and have the great fortune of working with both of them, I see just how much they have done for our community. While it’s still fun to hang out and laugh, it’s empowering to stand next to them and work to keep the arts alive in Austin. Janet’s drive for our community is shown through her time on the City Council and multiple artboards. She writes grants and advocates, she directs and produces and is always down for a good hard work day in her paint-covered jeans and T-shirt (usually an old show shirt).
Behind the scenes, she is always encouraging people and talking events up. You know she would be in every audience if it were physically possible. Even when we disagree she is a constant advocate, always wanting those around her to be knowledgeable and open-minded, an admirable trait for sure. Scott is tried and true. My absolute favorite thing about him is nothing is too silly.
When you go to him with something a little out of the box, he listens and most times finds a way to help make it happen! You can always count on Scott for great conversation and even better jokes and of course for awesome sound and light designs. Boots on the ground, he is always willing to work with kids of all ages to get the job done. Watching him take the time to teach and nurture is inspiring.
Community takes work, dedication and humility; you get back what you put in. The Andersons exemplify that. Starting a non-profit children’s theatre is no small task; keeping it running and viable for 47 years is no small feat. Together as a team, they have created something that we, as a board, hope to keep running for another 47 years and beyond. We hope to take their hard work and dedication to use Matchbox to spark as many imaginations as possible. We are so excited for them to go be near their family and to impact another community knowing they will still be fierce and loyal advocates of ours.
Here’s to community, having fun, the arts and the Andersons!