Because good actors make it look so effortless, itís easy to forget just
how much hard work acting really is. But the polished and natural feel of an
actorís performance often represents years of training and onstage experience.
The American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) has its roots in the National Association of Community Theatre (NACT), an organization founded in the 1950ís.
In 1958 the American Community Theatre Association (ACTA) was founded and later became a division of the American Theatre Association (ATA).
In February 1986 ACTA disassociated with ATA to become AACT, an independently incorporated organization. AACT, founded by ten past presidents of ACTA, adopted all past officers, award
recipients, festival activities, and other aspects of ACTA and NACT as part of its history.
Within a year of its founding AACT had 380 members, a mailing list, newsletter, membership directory, and more, thanks to President Bea Miller and dedicated board members and past
presidents all over the country. Festivals of American Community Theatre (FACT) started in 1969 as a way to select a show for the World Festival in Monaco and have been continued by AACT in odd-numbered
years with participants going on to international festivals all over the globe.
In 1988 AACT began a tradition of also meeting for a national event in even-numbered years. That year Jim Carver, then President of AACT, and the Kalamazoo (MI) Civic Players
hosted AACT at its first national convention. In 1990 John Viars and the Des Moines (IA) Playhouse was host to AACTís first international festival. The AACT national convention moved to New York
City in 1992 and again in 1996, chaired both times by JoAnne Nissen. Racine (WI) Theatre Guild with chair Norm McPhee hosted AACTís second international festival in 1994 and in 1998 a third
international festival was held in Benton Harbor, MI chaired by Larry Nielsen and Twin City Players. A third NYC convention will be held in 2000.
When John Viars became president in 1991, he saw a great need for a national office to be a home base for AACT communications and a staff to handle the growing load of membership records
and mailings. The Des Moines Playhouse contributed office space, a computer was purchased, and a part time executive secretary hired. The office remained in Des Moines until 1994 when Julie Angelo
became AACTís first executive director and the office moved to College Station, TX.
AACT launched its website in 1996. In 1997 AACTís membership first exceeded 1000 and a tenth region - for overseas military members - was created. Also in 1997 the AACT Board
decided to pull AACTís growing educational programs together and added a vice president for education.
In 2000, the board entered into long-range planning, with an emphasis on providing benefits and services at a national level, including education, training in fundraising and board
operation, and improved relationships with publishers and royalty houses.
In 2009, AACT began a major branding and marketing effort, in order to clarify its role in helping create the best community theatre possible.
A new logo and tagline ("Improving communities one theatre at a time") were
developed, and the association's website was completely redesigned in order to
match the goals of the branding and marketing plan.