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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 17, 200212:00 PM EST

Profile: Linda Cobb Ingham

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Linda Ingham is the president of the Theatreworks board of directors.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRESIDENT?

“This is my second year as president. I’ve been on the board three years.”

WERE YOU ELECTED TO THE POSITION?

“The nominating committee puts up a slate of officers for the board to vote on. It’s a two-year term. This is my last term as president but I’ll stay on the board.”

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?

“I’ve home-schooled three of my five children. I’m not a teacher but I wanted to bring the arts to them. Theatreworks was doing a production of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ so we went. We went to all of the productions that year as a part of the curriculum. I thought it was a great thing they’re doing.”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT

BEING INVOLVED?

“In Jacksonville, the arts community is a strong group. They’re dynamic in getting the message out that we need the arts in Jacksonville. I don’t have an arts background but I like the fact that it’s making a difference in children’s lives. It’s quality theater that inspires kids to read and act. It’s like going to New York; it’s very professional. It was a great experience in my children’s lives. All of them have an artistic side and Theatreworks helped cultivate it. In the age of television and computers, it allows kids to bring back their imagination and the fun of acting out things. It brings books alive.”

WHAT DO YOU DO AS PRESIDENT?

“I run the board. The board oversees fundraising and approves productions. The executive director shops for different shows. The board makes sure that the performances are not too left field or right field. We’re doing a lot of awareness as to what Theatreworks is and does. If I go in to a sponsor, I’ll say they can send 3,000 kids to see the show. It’s a direct dollars-to-impact sale. People love being able to expose children to the arts.”

HAVE SALES BEEN GOING WELL?

“One challenging aspect lately has been funding. Arts funding in general has been down. When the economy slumps, the arts are usually the first to get hit but the board has found corporations and individuals that are excited about it. The City, through the Cultural Council, has been great to us. Our big goal this year is to set up a foundation to help make us more fiscally responsible so we don’t have to keep going back to the till. We started up a committee and are doing some marketing. We’re doing almost a capital campaign to set up an endowment [to sustain the program]. We’re going to have a kickoff, hopefully this spring.”

WHAT OTHER PROJECTS HAVE

YOU UNDERTAKEN?

“We’re doing a Sunday series that’s going gangbusters this year. It’s been very successful. ‘Rapunzel’ is coming up. Also, we’re trying to get our ducks in a row to move. We’ve leased the Moyer Tile Building [on Hendricks Avenue] and will be moving in next year. [City Council member Matt] Carlucci is doing all the wiring so he can use it for his headquarters this year [for his mayoral campaign]. Then, it will be our building.”

WHY MOVE THE ORGANIZATION?

“We’re in Independent Square now. They provide us space but we have no visible exposure. We need more room and our staff is growing. People get us mixed up with Theatre Jacksonville. This building will give us an identity.”

WHAT DID YOU DO

BEFORE THEATREWORKS?

“I practiced employment and labor law and medical malpractice defense with Marks Gray for 15 years. I miss practicing law but with five kids, something had to give, so I retired. I might go back one day.”

WHERE DID she GO TO SCHOOL?

She has a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from the University of Florida.

IS THEATREWORKS JUST FOR

YOUNG CHILDREN?

“Our thoughts are more towards reaching outlying areas, like Live Oak and Ocala, than towards age groups. We’ve gotten with Publix to take two shows to Valdosta. We do a Holocaust show for teenagers and we try to do Shakespearean productions for high schoolers. We stretch the range from pre-k to high school to give schools the opportunity to see theater and be a part of it.”

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

“I coach soccer and basketball. I’m on the Civil Service Board and the Chester Bedell Inns of Court. I also run every morning. I did a Disney marathon last year in the sleeting rain. It was my first. I also love to tend my garden but my activities are mostly kids’ stuff.”

FAMILY?

Emily, 13, Mack, 12, Mary Catherine, 11, John, 8, and Nancy, 6. The family resides on the Westside. Ingham’s husband, Jim, operates an Internet-based job board.

WHAT IS YOUR PET PEEVE?

“That would probably be children who aren’t disciplined.”

WHAT DOes she DO FOR FUN?

Taking in an action/thriller movie or becoming engrossed in a legal thriller novel are favorites of hers. She also enjoys the rare dinner out at Fatty Tunas.

WHO’S YOUR HERO?

“Benjamin Franklin because he was so creative and practical and opened his mind to any type of idea. His autobiography is great.”

— by Monica Chamness

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