Category Archives: The Impact and Potential of the Arts in Naperville

BEHIND RIBFEST – Feature-Length Documentary Film Provides All-Access Behind-the-Scenes Look at Naperville Ribfest

by Stuart Meyer

For the past 26 years, the Naperville Exchange Club has produced Naperville Ribfest as a charitable event which donates 100% of net proceeds toward the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence.  Prepare to be entertained and inspired as you journey behind-the-scenes of the Naperville Ribfest for an exclusive inside look at every aspect of this volunteer-run charitable BBQ and music festival.  Behind Ribfest  is a feature-length documentary film produced by my production company, Social Frequency Media Communications, and after making some rounds at film festivals we’ve decided to release the film online in two parts.  We hope you’ll watch and share this film with others.  Watch the film below or simply click here.


The Many Ways Naperville’s Kidz Kabaret Helps Our Kidz

Annie_Ben takes a Bow

My youngest son, pictured in the middle, has found his passion in theater through Kidz Kabaret.

by Stuart Meyer

As any parent knows, no two children are the same.  As a matter of fact, its been my experience that siblings tend to be opposite in personality, interests and behavior.

As a parent, my dream for my children is for them to discover their own unique dream and support them as much as I can in their journey.

While my oldest son is a natural-born competitive athlete, it’s been a process of elimination for my youngest son in his journey to discover his own unique niche.

Over the past few years, we’ve worked our way through soccer, t-ball, cub scouts, coach pitch baseball, football and pottery.  He loved the pottery class he took through our incredible Naperville Parks District and this Summer took the leap, participated in a Theater day camp at Kidz Kabaret here in Naperville and fell in love.

The one detail I’ve left out is the fact my youngest son is a pretty shy kid and often struggles in relating and communicating with other kids.  Of course, once he gets comfortable just sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

Kidz Kabaret and its 501(c)(3) Fair Lady Productions is a Naperville-based non-audition children’s theater company that began in 2003 as a summer stock performance in Executive Director Kandiss Hernandez’s backyard.  Today, their facility on Quincy Avenue is pretty incredible in terms of its size, theater and rehearsal space.

“Non-Audition” means every kid gets a chance to perform even if that means having 15 different casts each with their own performance date.  They focus on helping kids develop self-confidence while learning the many exciting aspects of theater production.

For my son, the Summer Theater Camp “Aladdin” performance at Kidz Kabaret led to the Fall program where he performed in “Annie Jr.” to the Winter program where he just finished “It’s a Fairy Tale Life” heading toward the Spring Program. We were pretty amazed by how well these pint-sized triple threats were able to put it all together with the support of the Kidz Kabaret teachers.  Even more, we were blown away to see our little shy guy acting and singing solos… on a stage… with bright lights… in front of an audience.

It’s all the more comforting to see the absence of competitiveness and the sense that the biggest stage Kidz Kabaret is preparing our children for is the stage of life… to help them build confidence, commitment and discipline… to learn how to communicate… to work together as a cast… to express themselves and to enjoy the arts.

That’s about as much as a parent could ask for.  While there are plenty of great performance arts programs and activities in and around Naperville, I’m particularly grateful for the efforts of the whole crew at Kidz Kabaret.  Special thanks to De!  

Kidz Kabaret is located at 1665 Quincy Avenue, Suite 143 in Naperville and their Executive Director is Kandiss Hernandez.  You can learn more on their website at

Association Publishing Magazine Features Composer and Filmmaker Stuart Meyer in September/October 2009 Issue

Association Publishing ArticleMy advance apologies for the dreadfully ego-centric sounding headline above.  I simply wanted to make sure this posting was optimized for search engine results… or “SEO” as it is called… which translates into posting views and insures that this story might reach a wider audience.

As many of you know, I’ve spent the second half of this year making the transition toward living and sustaining my life purpose.  This wonderful article, written by the very talented Carla Kalogeridis, provides a deeper perspective on how I am working to translate my humbling gifts and talents into my daily vocation as composer, filmmaker and not-for-profit social media consultant.

Earlier this year, as a step along this journey, I voluntarily composed a theme song (click here to listen) for the Association Forum to be used as a source of motivation for all the not-for-profit association professionals out there who have weathered a very difficult year.  The title of the theme song is “Go the Distance” which pretty much says it all to anyone from any walk of life who has endured this year of economic heartbreak and setbacks.

Within the past couple of months, I was contacted by Association Publishing Magazine about their interest in writing an article about the story behind this piece of music.  If you click here you can read the full article.

As the journey continues, I also invite you to support my current documentary film project, Imprévu – The Kenneth von Heidecke Storywhich is an inspiring story about a blue-collar Midwestern kid from Chicago who faces unimaginable triumph and tragedy in pursuing professional and international acclaim in the world of ballet.

When I first met Ken, I knew this was a powerful story that had to be told in a way that is as uniquely creative and as beautifully artistic as his life.  This film will not be your typical documentary, but rather an emotive and inspiring cinematic journey that well leave audiences reflecting, and hopefully acting upon their own inexhaustible purpose and calling in life.

Please join the official Imprévu film group on Facebook by clicking here where you can read our production diary dating back to 2008, listen to clips of film music I’ve composed and see our growing collection of production photos. I also welcome you to spread the word.

6 Tips for Discovering and Living Your Unique Purpose

horizonMy own road in life has been a twisting journey of purpose with each day offering the possibility of a new piece of the puzzle being revealed.  As I’ve written recently, there are many out there within our Naperville community and beyond who have felt the crush of our nation’s economic collapse over the past year.  Despite the tough times, in many ways the slowdown may very well provide the perfect conditions to connect/re-connect with your own unique purpose in life.

We all have a unique purpose within our heart and soul which I believe keeps tapping us on the back throughout our lives despite the free will we exercise in attempting to make what we believe are the best decisions for ourselves in “the moment”.

As I’ve said, it doesn’t matter the size of stage or economic reward attached, it’s all about finding true meaning and fulfillment in life.  Even better, in taking the journey down your own path of your uniquely prescribed purpose, you might just discover that all of those material trappings aren’t quite as important as they once seemed.  Inspired and inspiring lives emerge not from the material of the world, but rather the material of the soul.  Further, always remember that money is merely a measure of survival, not purpose.

To help you on your way, below are 6 tips I’ve used to guide my way along my own path of purpose in life:

1)  Throughout your life, what interests/experiences have consistently filled your heart with a joy and happiness that is unique to  you and you alone?

2) What do you enjoy doing so much that the constraint of time seems to slip away, yet it still feels effortless and energizing?

3) If you could help others in a way that is your own unique contribution measured not by external recognition/validation but only by internal reward and satisfaction, how would you do so?

4) Once the answers to the first three questions begin to emerge yielding an internal sense of truth, try to connect with at least one other person outside of your immediate life who can understand and relate to your purpose.

5)  Focus your energy on the “what” not the “how” so as not to construct a wall of self-adversity.  An act of purpose could be something as simple as sharing it with someone else. 

6)  Write in a journal as often as possible specifically about the many elements, possibilities and dimensions of your purpose.  Don’t hold back, on paper anything is possible. 

Though I have many more ideas, experiences and thoughts on the subject of purpose, this should help you get started.  In the meantime, perhaps a first step for you might be sharing your thoughts here in the form of a comment.   So what are you waiting for?  SM

International Artists Headline Naperville’s Von Heidecke School of the Chicago Festival Ballet Benefit on Sunday, October 12th

In the coming weeks and months you will begin to hear allot more about an exciting project I am working on with Naperville’s own Kenneth von Heidecke.  What many people may not know is that in addition to building his Von Heidecke School of the Chicago Festival Ballet in Naperville, he has long been honored as an internationally renowned figure in the ballet world. 

The Von Heidecke School of Ballet is holding a  very special benefit this Sunday, October 12th at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet from 3:00 – 5:00 PM.  You have the opportunity to witness up close an array of national and international professional opera, dance and musical talent, including:

Viktoria Vizin, Hungarian Mezzo-Soprano who sang Carmen at the Lyric Opera, Royal Opera and will be debuting at the Metropolitan Opera this season.

David Yonan, German Concert violinist about to embark upon a world tour playing Paganinni.

Christine Steyer, Recently awarded the Founders Award at the IX Altamura Caruso International Voice Competition and 1st place at the National Opera Association Competition.

Elise Paschen, Celebrated writer/poet and daughter of legendary Primar Ballerina, Maria Tallchief.

Valerie Maze, The Lyric Opera’s Pianist who has worked with numerous national and international operas.

Teanna Zarro & Matthew Frain, Performing the pas de deux from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet as choreographed by Kenneth von Heidecke.

String Trio, Providing background and chamber music.

You won’t want to miss this rare opportunity to experience world class performances while at the same time supporting an important Naperville arts institution.  I will be there and I hope to you see you there too.

For more information, CLICK HERE SM

Unraveling the Marginalization and Fragmentation of Community Participation and Purpose

Though I will concede the headline sounds a bit deep, the focus of this posting is not all the good things and many good people who advance communities.  This posting is about the loss of participation, the untapped potential and unrealization of human purpose within communities all across this country and throughout the world. 

Simply put, the question is why is it that human intelligence and talent abounds all around us, yet so few actually step forward to either share their gifts or perhaps even realize their potential as they reside within our communities.  John Lennon said that “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”.  Chances are, when we began building our lives our vision was far grander, more ambitious and passionate than where we find ourselves in present day. 

What happens?  Well, life happens and unfortunately our communities have been traditionally ill-equipped to broadly harvest the unique talents firmly rooted all around us.  Social institutions designed to facilitate the cohesion of poeple often become exclusive, fragmented and small in number compared to the overall population. 

Perhaps more tragic is the reality that, for many, the “dream” grows dim somewhere along the way as demands and responsibilities mount.  However, I believe the greatest harm we can do to ourselves in life is to turn our backs on our passion, our potential and our purpose in life. 

When factoring the constraints of traditional social institutions combined with the draining demands of daily life, it’s no wonder that so many are living a marginalized life, absent the exercise of internal purpose and diminished contribution to community… the true secret to real happiness. 

Despite these realities, I see a very bright future for all of us as we begin to turn the spotlight on the hidden treasures within us all as we find ways to live our purpose, to whatever degree we can, and to donate our time and talents for the benefit of ourselves as well as others.  I challenge each of you to internalize your own sense of purpose and find a way, no matter how great or small, to share your talents with our community.

Omnia arts project once again proves all Naperville politics are local and that the safety of anonymity brings out the worst in people

First, I want to applaud Bev Frier on what appears to be a big vision for having the arts take a larger center stage here in Naperville.  Like so many, I’ve only heard minor details and innuendo regarding the project, yet at least we are talking about the future potential of the arts within our community.  Time will be the judge as to whether it is the best time, project and location for Naperville.

I’ve been reading with great interest and disgust the Naperville Potluck Blog postings regarding the political maneuvering and, perhaps, naivity swirling around us these days.  It’s at least nice that people are yelling and screaming about something other than land acquisition for new high schools.  At the same time, anonymous behavior on blogs, such as the potluck, tends to bring out the worst in people and ends up making our community look regretably stupid for the most part.  There is a clear difference between a healthy and respectful debate of our collectively shared community interests and divisive inflammation of the keyboard.  The answer is live face-to-face community dialogue and I do hope that it happens soon. 

If Bev Frier had a true political agenda which transcends her stated altruistic intent, then I believe she would have played her cards much differently.  Is it the best location and project?  I guess we’ll know in time.

The one lesson I believe we are reminded of as a community is if you intend for a visionary large-scale project to become a cherished community treasure for present and future generations to enjoy then you should build the vision with the involvement and participation of those you intend to influence in obtaining support from the very beginning.  

Any form of change is, by nature, sticky business and it can only succeed through an evolutionary inclusive process of participation and well-rounded perspective.  We must examine the full picture and people must have an opportunity to invest themselves in making the determination as to what is in the best interest of our community.  SM