NORMAN — The annual Fowler Arts Education Award will be presented to Jennifer Baker, executive director of The Sooner Theatre, during ONE, the Norman Arts Council’s fundraiser on March 30. Tickets for the event are still available through the Norman Arts Council. The award recognizes Sooner Theatre, the programs of the Studio of the Sooner Theatre, and the staff and instructors.
Baker started The Sooner Theatre’s education program in 2003 with one summer camp that served 30 children. She has expanded the program to include almost 50 classes year-round and enrollment exceeds 730 students annually from the south metro area.
Fowler VW sponsors the Fowler Arts Education Award, which aims to recognize those who improve children’s art education opportunities in Norman in an extraordinary way.
Baker was born and raised in Norman and attended the University of Oklahoma where she received a bachelor’s in fine arts. She moved to New York City and traveled as a professional actress and choreographer working in numerous productions across the country.
In 1999, Baker returned to Norman to get married and then continued traveling for a few years. She returned once again to her hometown to raise a family and was invited to join the board of directors at The Sooner Theatre. She was later recommended for artistic director and then created the first summer camp.
“Starting the studio was definitely a pivotal moment for myself and the theatre,” Baker said. “We had such success with our summer camps that we had to take the leap of faith and transition to the academy.”
The performing art classes offered at The Sooner Theatre include musical theatre, acting, improv, voice and theatre dance. Students range in age from 3-18.
In spring of 2008 The Sooner Theatre acquired a second space, known as The Studio of The Sooner Theatre. The Studio teaches disciplines in musical theatre, acting, theatre dance, hip-hop and tap. Master classes are held throughout the year where students have opportunities to learn from professional performers and special clinicians.