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Dione Kennedy

“Musicals, plays, even movies, show us a lot about who we are as a society and, hopefully, we learn from what we see,” says 54-year-old Dione Kennedy. As president and CEO of Performing Arts Fort Worth (PAFW), the Cowtown resident knows her way both around the stage and behind the curtain.
 
She took over this coveted role six years ago, moving her whole family to Texas from Ohio, where she held the same position at the Victoria Theatre Association and the Arts Center Foundation for 18 years. Fortunately, uprooting from Dayton to Fort Worth wasn’t traumatizing for her 10-year-old daughter, Caro Kennedy Hagwood.
 
“The transition was fairly easy for us,” says Dione. “Our daughter was in preschool when we moved, so she started kindergarten here and she thinks she’s a Texan. My husband [of 11 years Daniel Hagwood] and I both have family members scattered around the country, so we almost always had to travel to visit with family anyway.”
 
Now fully immersed in the Fort Worth performing arts scene, Kennedy has an ever-changing itinerary of work and home to-dos. Additionally, she’s a board member of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. and the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
 
Have you always been into the arts? Can you pinpoint where/when you first started becoming interested in shows, productions, etc.? As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in what happens on a stage. As a child in elementary school, we watched the high school music department perform musicals and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to participate. Throughout middle and high school, I participated in community theater and school productions. 
 
Does your husband share your penchant for performing arts? He definitely knows and appreciates the industry, as we worked together for many years back in Ohio. He was the IT Director at Victoria Theatre Association in Ohio, but his background was in performance. Now he is a full-time dad to Caro, our daughter, and a part-time actor. When he has time to audition, he prefers working in front of a camera rather than on stage.
 
Has being a mom changed your perspective on things? Has it changed how you perceive talent/artistic ability? Being a mom has changed my perspective on many things, but not necessarily how I perceive the performing arts. I’ve definitely become more patient and tolerant as a mom and this transfers into the office as well (at least I hope so!).
 
What does Caro think about Mom being plugged into Fort Worth’s performing arts realm? Would you say she has a greater appreciation for arts and culture than most kids her age? Like most children, she sees what I do as completely normal; it’s just another part of our lives. But she does appreciate getting good seats when we see a show! I don’t know that she has a greater appreciation for the arts, but generally I believe that people who experience the performing arts regularly are more tolerant, kind and understanding people. [As mentioned earlier,] musicals, plays, even movies, show us a lot about who we are as a society. From that perspective, she may have a broader viewpoint of certain issues than some children her age.                                               
 
Do you make an effort to expose her to music and performing arts? She began attending the family series shows we presented in Ohio when she was about 18 months old. She saw her first full-length show on Broadway when she was 4; since then she’s seen just about every Broadway and family show I’ve presented in Ohio and in Fort Worth, as well as many more on Broadway.
 
What does your day or a typical weekend normally look like? My morning routine involves helping get my daughter ready for school and out the door before I go to the office. Depending on what is happening at Bass Hall, I may stay through the performance or do a curtain speech and then head home. As often as possible, my husband, daughter and I have dinner together. Weekends — again it depends on what is happening at the Hall. For performances presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth, I generally give a curtain speech to open the show. Otherwise, time is spent with my family. There is not a typical weekend for us; our schedule fluctuates depending on my work needs and our daughter’s extracurricular activities. When we have time, we like to watch movies together and, of course, we see lots of theater together.
 
How do you balance motherhood between benefits, events and the like? I admit I am very selfish with any free time and spend it almost exclusively with my family. Because my work schedule can be very demanding, including travel, I tend not to take on additional activities that would take more time away. When my daughter is older, that will change and I’ll have more time for outside activities.
 
How does Caro inspire you? She sees the world with a fresh perspective. She delights in little things that I might normally overlook, such as holiday decorations or a sweet treat.  
 
Name three things moms shouldn’t feel guilty about: We feel guilty about everything; it is normal. Just try not to let the guilt influence the hard work of parenting.