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Meet Matt Kramer of You Connection in Plano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Kramer.

Matt, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
You Connection has essentially been twenty years in the making. Forming an organization like this had been my aim since I graduated from high school in 1998, but it took a lot of false starts and trying again before I finally founded You Connection in 2014.

I’ve spent my whole life doing performing arts, drama, writing, and video production, but also spent more than a decade working in children’s ministry. As a devout Christian, I had considered attending Bible college and going into full-time ministry, so I thought, what if I were to combine faith and ministry with performing arts and all these other creative skills. Just roll it all into one thing.

In a nutshell, that’s how You Connection came to be. We are a nonprofit focusing on producing faith-based theatre. That is our main focus, but we also produce a web channel as well. In Summer of 2019, we finally moved into a facility of our own in Downtown Plano (having just rented theatre or rehearsal spaces over the past five years). It’s an exciting time since we’ve now developed a good following and great attendance. A lot of it has been word-of-mouth, people telling people, etc. We feel we are filling a niche that very few are filling, particularly in the faith-based market. Faith and theatre are usually like oil and water in most people’s minds.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
That’s like asking if it’s easy climbing Mt. Everest. It’s been the rockiest, bumpiest road you can imagine, mainly because we’re taking, as the poet says, “the road less traveled by”. First of all, the Christian faith has quite a negative reputation these days; there’s a lot of misrepresentation out there, so doing anything “faith-based” is going to turn some people off. Performing arts, in general, is also tough territory because there is usually very little support for it (as a nonprofit we depend on giving and contributions).

We also do original material, which is a Broadway-style musical theatre. At first, it was very difficult getting people to even comprehend the idea of faith-based musical theatre. The only thing most people can think of is a church play or pageant, but we don’t do that. Our material has the exact look and feel of a Broadway show, it just happens to have faith-based content. It took a few shows and a little bit of time to get people excited about it, and now we have a wonderful following and it seems to really click for a lot of people. Any time you do something new or different, it takes people a little while to adjust to it.

As with virtually any nonprofit, money is always an obstacle, but we continue to find some very faithful supporters.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
You Connection is a faith-based nonprofit using professional theatre and the creative arts to promote Christian values to families. Our main activity is producing a full season of musical theatre shows every year, but we also have a web channel with literally hours of videos. The theatre shows are designed for the entire family and are suitable for kids, teens, and adults; the web channel is designed mainly for preteen kids.

Faith-based theatre is virtually nonexistent; there are great faith-based acting schools in Dallas like Shine and Christian Youth Theatre, but we are really the only Christian group in DFW with an original repertoire of productions. We believe in sharing our faith and our values with others, and creativity is one of the most effective means of communication in the world.

We are known for being uncompromising in our message and very outspoken about our faith, while at the same time creating a thoroughly entertaining experience. Many attendees have appreciated how our productions are very in-your-face without being offensive.

We are also known for the quality of our talent. The You Connection cast is made up of some of the finest performers in the DFW area, with a huge variety of experiences and backgrounds. We specialize in utilizing young talent (teens and preteens) but we also use adults, too.

Finally, we have a very unique style of characters, storytelling, and music, so that there is an unmistakable “trademark style” to You Connection; recurring attendees quickly become familiar with the “house style” of You Connection- at one end quirky, imaginative, and fun, on the other end searing, impactful, and thought-provoking.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have a very strong family who has supported me in all that I’ve done, and I certainly couldn’t have made it this far without them. I am also grateful to the leadership at Sojourn Church, in Carrollton; I’ve attended that church for most of my life and have spent endless hours listening and learning from some of the greatest people of faith on the planet! I am thankful for all our supporters, attendees, volunteers, and our wonderful performers- they are all insanely talented, giving our presentations the professionalism that’s needed! And of course, as a Christian, I have to give my ultimate thanks to God, since I believe He has called me to live the life I am living and enables me to do what I do.

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