Bartlett’s mayor announced Jason Sykes as the new director of the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center (BPACC) at the July 14 city board meeting.
In an interview Monday, Sykes praised the center’s bright role in the community over the years and said he plans to continue along that path.
He looks forward to adding to Bartlett’s cultural and arts aspects when he begins the new job in August.
“I don’t want someone in the community to think the theater’s changing focus, because that’s just completely not going to be the case,” he said. “What the center has brought to the community has been wonderful.”
He wants Bartlett-area residents to know that he and his staff will continue to offer a multi-faceted program of music, plays, children’s theater, the Bartlett Community Concert Band and more. Their goal is simply to continue enhancing what BPACC offers.
“BPACC is a wonderful stroke of color in a beautiful painting, and the city has a masterfully painted canvas,” he said. “We have a lot of wonderful things. We have great city services — we have parks, and police and fire. I’d put them up against anybody in our region. … Our government is run very well, and now our new school system. And all these are beautiful brush strokes in this painting. And in my opinion, the Performing Arts Center is a major brush stroke on that painting.”
Sykes was sworn in June 14 to replace long-time director Ron Jewell, who guided BPACC from 1999 through April of this year before moving on to serve as vice president of operations for the Orpheum’s new Centre for Performing Arts and Education in Memphis.
Jewell leaves big shoes to fill, but city officials say Sykes is the right man for the task.
Aderman Bobby Simmons described Sykes as honorable and eager to serve. “I feel he will be up to the task. He’s young enough and he knows how to raise money, and that’s always good.”
Alderman W.C. “Bubba” Pleasant also said, “He’s always impressed me with being a fine man.”
Alderman Emily Elliott was not able to attend that board meeting but wrote a letter that mayor Keith McDonald read about Sykes.
In part, her letter said, “I thoroughly approve of his appointment. He has a proven track record of successful fundraising experience and has gone above and beyond in his volunteerism for the city of Bartlett’s sanctioned committees and events.”
She also described him as trustworthy, hard-working and someone who really knows the commmunity and the city’s businesses.
In thanking the city’s leaders and employees, Sykes said, “I consider it an extreme honor to work beside you to serve the citizens of this great community.”
His work experience is rooted in BPACC itself: He has served as one of the center’s part-time house managers for the past 10 years.
“I’m familiar with the staff, I’m familiar with how they operate, familiar with a lot of the past performances and acts that have come in,” Sykes said. “So it’s not like a cold turkey change.”
In addition to his BPACC rootes, he is also closely tied to the city. Sykes is a native of Bartlett, where he lives with his wife, Becky, and their three children.
“Bartlett’s home for me. I mean, I grew up here, I’ve lived here my entire life,” Sykes said. “Have no plans for going anywhere. … I’d like to think that you’re not going to find anybody who’s a bigger fan of Bartlett than me.”
Sykes has years of experienc in marketing, communications, project management, customer service and community involvement.
“I think a lot of the core tasks will translate really well,” he said, mentioning his familiarity with reaching out to schools, civic groups and the corporate community.
“It’s all about engaging these folks and creating partnerships,” he said.
From 2003 through today, he has been a leader at Lifeblood as operations administrator, senior account manager, director of marketing, and community and marketing manager. He was a communications specialist for Youth Villages from 2000 to 2003.
“Engaging the community, engaging the leaders across our community for a cause is something I’m very familiar with,” he said.
Sykes has an associate of arts degree in information technology from State Technical Institute in Memphis.
He also has a longtime love of the stage, performing during his high school days and afterward.
Community involvement is another area where he shines. His resume is filled with roles such as president of the Bartlett Education Foundation since 2014 and creator of the Bartlett Movies in the Park series, which has operated since 2013.
He has been on the Bartlett Station Commission since 2012 and was voted “Man of the Year” in the Bartlett Express Readers’ Choice Awards for 2012. He chaired the Bartlett Chamber of Commerce Foundation from 2010 through 2013.
Sykes graduated from Leadership Bartlett in 2007 and was chairman for its classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011. As a Leadership Bartlett alumnus, he also has been public relations director since 2009.
Sykes has served on the Bartlett City Beautiful Commission since 2007.
He hopes to offer more sponsorship opportunities to business owners who want to support the arts.
He plans to work with the concert band, arts council, school theater departments and more. He welcomes participation.
“It can only enhance our community,” Sykes said. “It can only make us better.”