Theater Arts Teacher
Donald Fann currently serves as the Director of Theater at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna, TN where he founded the theater program upon the opening of the school. In three years, he developed the program into an award winning multifaceted program serving an audience of 6000 per year with a 500% increase in enrollment. In its short history Red Hawk Theater has garnered more state and regional recognition than any other theater program in Rutherford County. In 2016 he was selected as The Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts Teacher of the Year.
Fann comes to Stewarts Creek after serving for 19 years as Executive Director of The Arts Center of Cannon County. He saw that organization grow from a local community theatre with an annual attendance of 3,000 into an award-winning regional Arts Center serving a worldwide audience of over 150,000 through its facility, web sites, publications, and recording projects
At The Arts Center he programmed seasons for one of the premier community theatres in the Southeast including over 150 annual performances averaging 80% capacity and serving 40,000 people annually. Under his leadership The Arts Center of Cannon County set the standard for high quality community theatre from a rural perspective. Donald work hard to discover challenging new works that fit within the cultural context of the community. This resulted in various premiers over the years including the Tennessee premiers of Art, 1st Baptist of Ivy Gap, and Mitch Albom’s Duck Hunter Shoots Angel and world amateur premiers ofAlways Patsy Cline, Man of Constant Sorrow and Keep on the Sunny Side. His extensive theatrical background includes over 200 credits for directing, design, and performance.
Since 2010, he has been Principal Guest Director for Crossville’s Cumberland County Playhouse, a professional theater serving an audience of over 130,000, making it Tennessee’s largest theater audience. His work there has garnered him multiple nominations for BroadwayWorld.com’s Tennessee Theater Awards including winning Best Play and Best Director in the 2010 professional division for Duck Hunter Shoots Angel and Best Play and Best Ensemble for Steel Magnolias in 2013. In 2015 he was awarded the Playhouse Star for extensive contributions to the organization.
A long time Arts Education Advocate, Donald designed and implemented a school matinee program that grew to serve over 20,000 students per year. He established a program, based on the Kennedy Center model, to provide graphically interesting, curriculum based learning materials to each child attending a performance, and initiated a partnership with Middle Tennessee State University to provide satellite school broadcasts of classes geared to help students better understand the arts events. He also founded residency program and a summer youth theatre conservatory at The Arts Center.
Recognizing the importance of local arts heritage, Donald instituted a folk arts program that quickly became a statewide model. Employing a full time folklorist, the program developed a volunteer oral history program, created two innovative driving trails, The Cumberlands Craft Trail and The Uncle Dave Macon Driving Tour and runs an independent record label. The program also acquired and curated a 400 piece collection of folk and outsider art including the largest publicly held collection of Cannon County white oak baskets in the world.
In 2002 he founded SpringFed Records, an independent non-profit record label that has used field recordings and reissues of traditional recordings to build acatalog of over 40 titles which have been reviewed by major international music publications. In 2008 John Work III: Recording Black Culture, won theGrammy Award for Best Album Notes and garnered feature articles in The New York Times, Associated Press and The International Herald Tribune.
Through his involvement with the Cannon Association of Craft Artists, Donald has worked to support both the traditional and contemporary craft communities, conceived the white oak timber co-op to provide materials to local basket makers, coordinated the creation of The Crafts Directory featuring over 150 local artists, and created Southern Visions Gallery, a retail crafts outlet for these artists, located at The Arts Center. Under his management, The White Oak Crafts Fair grew from 30 craft artists and an attendance of 800 to over 80 artists and an attendance of 8,000.
In addition to his real world experience of running a successful rural arts organization, Donald also brings over 25 years of Arts Education experience from Stewarts Creek High School, The Arts Center of Cannon County, The Memphis Arts Council, The University of Memphis and Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, as well as an extensive theatrical background in directing, design, and performance.
Donald received the 2013 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Arts Leadership for contributions to the state’s arts community. At the ceremony, Governor Bill Haslom said of Donald “with all he has accomplished he has retained the heart of a teacher.” He currently serves as Chair of Humanities Tennessee Board of Directors and is the former Chair of The Tennesseans for the Arts Board. He has served on panels for The Southern Arts Federation and Tennessee Arts Commission, and was a founding member of Tennessee’s peer advisory network.
A native of Woodbury, Tennessee Donald holds a BFA from The University of Memphis, an M.Ed. from Middle Tennessee State University, and has received training as a Teaching Artist from The Lincoln Center Institute and the Wolftrap Institute, Foxfire Teacher Training Program, as well as The Tennessee Arts Commission’s Peer Advisory Network. Donald currently lives on his family farm outside of Woodbury with his wife, Cortilla and his three daughters, Chloe, Hattie and Corinne.
GOVERNOR'S AWARD VIDEO