The Young Actors Guild (YAG) has been a youth arts organization for over sixty years.
The Junior League of Fort Smith started our organization in the early 1950’s as a touring theatre for youth that performed for area students, so that the arts could be accessible to all children. All roles were played by the ladies of the Junior League (even the male roles). After the Junior League successfully established the organization it was then turned over to the community and became known as the Fort Smith Children’s Community Children’s Theatre. Over time the organization evolved into a youth theatre with children being cast in the productions. In 2001 the organization was renamed the Young Actors Guild and has continued to serve the youth in our community by having only youth in shows, but with no participation fees being charged so that any child that is cast can participate no matter their financial situation. In fall of 2006 the Young Actors Guild partnered with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Academy of the Arts. All programs were co-produced by both organizations. The Young Actors Guild hired a part-time Executive Director in 2007, primarily to serve as a liaison between YAG and the University of Arkansas- Fort Smith Academy of the Arts. In December 2009, the Young Actors Guild left the partnership with UA-Fort Smith. We currently produce four shows per year and have a theatre education series called the “Theatre Lab” that offers master classes with industry professionals.
YAG has won 15 National Youth Arts Awards for our productions of Grease, Footloose, Hairspray, and Les Miserables (featuring the Fort Smith Symphony) in the past four years.
As an organization we are focused on making the arts accessible to our community. We serve youth between the ages of 6-19 and have a zero participation fee policy so that anyone cast can be involved. In the last two years YAG has partnered with the Fort Smith Public Library on our Junior Musical Theatre Conservatory (JMTC) production (serves ages 6-14) to create an outreach based program that offers over twelve free programs at area libraries as well as outreach programs to local organizations that support underserved and at-risk youth by either doing free workshops for their clients or by offering free tickets to YAG productions. We aim to bring theatre experiences to youth who may not have the resources or transportation to attend such events. We also offer free tickets to volunteers who assist on our productions. Our focus is to make high quality theatre opportunities available to any child in our community that wants to be involved.