Earlier in this series, I wrote about “being the change you want to see in your community.” This month’s Face of the Fort puts that into perspective, and could stand to show us all a thing or two about chasing our dreams. Living Fort Wayne introduces Richard Wayne Kinney Jr., otherwise known as Rick Kinney.
There’s a man with a vision, and then there’s Rick Kinney. Sometimes, half the battle of finding your vision is determining exactly what you want in the first place. For Rick, that came when he was 16 years old, standing in the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, watching the Deftones perform live on stage. At a young age, he began to learn not only what good music sounded like, but what a passion for music felt like.
By age 30, Rick was the drummer for a band (Moser Woods actually…they’re good, and they’re opening for The Mersey Beatles in October…I’m plugging it because I’ll be writing about them soon), he became an entrepreneur, and had spent more than a decade dedicating his life to music and bringing outstanding, artful performances to communities throughout the country. He gained experience in lighting design, rigging, sound and video, even stage management and promotions. With that, he founded Even Keel Event Productions and for the next two years, went on to produce, promote and manage multiple local concerts and events. Then he was offered the role of Technical Director for the Fort Wayne Embassy; a job that provided him with the fine tuning he needed in his expert field.
“I had all this experience,” he says, “but I needed to find a way to bring it all together.” So finally, in 2012, Rick found just what he needed, and he knew it immediately.
The Clyde Theatre was built in 1951 and was designed by the same architect as the Embassy. It’s a grand, beautiful establishment. But it sat quietly in the back corner of Quimby Village on Bluffton Road for approximately 20 years without a single movie-goer to pass through its doors. The parking lot is full of pot holes. The walls and ceilings are dilapidated. Yet there is an energy in this place. I know, because he took me there.
Rick saw what The Clyde Theatre could be, and it is exactly what Fort Wayne is missing. So many times, our city is passed up by performers that are looking for standing-room venues like the popular Vogue or Egyptian Room in Indy. But, Rick knew that to get The Clyde there it would take time. And patience. And money.
Even Keel Event Productions purchased The Clyde Theatre in 2012 and in 2014 Rick took a leap of faith and left a career at The Embassy to pursue his dream of bringing new life to the Clyde, and to Fort Wayne. “I knew I never wanted to work for anyone again and that I wanted to make something big happen.” With that, his vision was set into motion.
“Raising money for a for-profit is tough,” he told me. That it is. But, The Clyde has something special to offer. The potential is endless, literally. Next to the theatre, there are other empty store fronts as well as a partially finished restaurant that will connect directly to The Clyde once completed. And behind it, a huge lot that’s not just for parking. This is a place for major community events like outdoor music festivals, BMX shows, farmer’s markets, I could go on. Rick knows that his work won’t end with The Clyde, in fact it’s only the beginning. The entire revitalization of Quimby Village is an opportunity and a necessity. It will happen in time, with Rick’s vision and the support of our community.
I asked Rick why he (a New Haven High School grad) ended up in Fort Wayne, of all places. I’ll be the first to admit we have a great local music scene, but surely there are other cities that could support his talent and his passion better than our little big city.
“I have a huge network of people here,” he said. “My friends and family are all here. And I understand the market and I know the niche that needs filled. I can sell shows in this city, because I know it well.” He calls Fort Wayne “the land of opportunity,” and his response to my question reassured me that we have a permanent staple in Rick Kinney. Believe me when I tell you, we’re lucky to have him.
When finished, The Clyde Theatre will flaunt multiple art galleries, box and VIP seating, and two halls large enough to host events from business parties to wedding receptions. The theatre itself will be home to live shows from all over the country, movies, comedy shows and more. The Clyde’s stage has never been performed on, but with the vision of Rick Kinney…and probably some blood, sweat and tears…it will come alive again soon, and be better than ever.
Watch the amazing renovation and transformation of The Clyde Theatre at clydetheatre.com.
Click here to learn more about Rick Kinney and Even Keel Event Productions.
Follow Moser Woods on Facebook and find out about upcoming shows.