We recently connected with Matt Kramer and have shared our conversation below.
Matt, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Can you tell us about a time that your work has been misunderstood? Why do you think it happened and did any interesting insights emerge from the experience?
Arts have always been misunderstood, but what we do at You Connection is even more confusing, because we are a faith-based organization doing original theatre and media. Art and the Bible have never really mixed well, at least in most people’s minds.
Over the past nine years, people have either not taken us seriously because we’re a Christian group and for some reason that means “you’re not really real”, or we have been dismissed as simply a local service (like an acting school, which we are not). Then you have people who take Christianity seriously but don’t much like the arts (and You Connection is highly creative in its presentations).
I’ve learned to stick with what you know. Don’t try to conform to make what you’re doing more accessible to a wider audience. Just do your thing, and there will be people who catch hold of it. It may be a specialized audience, but we need more of that in the mass-produced world we live in.
Matt, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
You Connection is a Christian-based nonprofit producing professional theatre and media. We present original, intimate, and highly unique theatre shows at our facility in Downtown Plano, and we have an online video site called YC Web, featuring hours of films and videos and reaching thousands of viewers every month from all over the world.
We are a donation-based organization, so we do not charge admission for theatre shows, and our films and videos are free to view and download.
As a Christian group, yes, You Connection does have a message. Our projects are used to express not only what we believe but why we believe it. However, because of our unique style of creativity, our productions easily attract both Christians and non-Christians.
We are a production company and a ministry combined, but we are also a bit of a “brand”- we have a very distinct look, feel, quality, and style that is unmistakably “You Connection”.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
Don’t give up. That’s about as cliche as you can get, but it’s true. I could probably count at least two hundred times over the past nine years that I thought, this is it, we’re done. You have to have a passion and belief in what you’re doing. How else could I have gotten through endless moments of being broke, or the government-enforced lockdowns of 2020 (which very nearly destroyed every business like ours). People have misunderstood us, and I’ve been accused of being a terrible person for unjustified reasons.
The only way you can have resilience in any of that is to have an unshakeable belief in what you’re doing.
How can we best help foster a strong, supportive environment for artists and creatives?
The Arts is actually a thriving and viable line of business, and I would like to see the perception change from “why don’t you go and get a real job” to the acceptance that there are lots of real jobs in media, social media, performing arts, civic arts, music, etc. It’s booming more than ever before.
Let’s give the same attention to art as we do to sport. The more people financially support and support through encouragement, the less “scary” it will be for young people to actually consider a career in it. I certainly have the same feelings about the church and arts- I’m on a mission to see the church embrace the arts much more than it has.