New director has vision for theater

By Melanie Speicher -



SIDNEY — The new executive director of Raise the Roof for the Arts has a vision for the restoration of the Historic Sidney Theatre: to fill the theater with arts and cultural activities for local residents and those living outside Shelby County borders.

Ian Hinz, 41, began his new job on Nov. 1.

“I saw the posting online,” said Hinz. “I saw that it was in Sidney, and I was looking for a new opportunity, so I had been keeping my eyes open.

“I thought it was interesting that Sidney had this going on,” he said. “Restoring the theater into a cultural arts center drew me to the job.”

After a phone interview, Hinz was even more intrigued by the position.

“I had an in-person interview and saw the theater,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity and a great group of people to work with. The staff and board have been great since I started.

“I have memories from growing up coming to Shelby County,” he said of visits to his grandparents’ home. His dad grew up in Botkins. “I thought this would be a good time to make the move here.

“I spent my formative years here,” he said. “And I can pronounce Russia, Houston and Versailles correctly.”

His No. 1 goal is to finish the theater’s renovations.

First up is the renovations of the bathrooms.

“This work is slated to begin after the first of the year,” he said. “At the same time, we’ll be working on the lighting and sound system so we can do more events.”

The next phase will deal with the seating at the theater, he said.

“2019 is going to be a busy, big year for the theater,” he said.

Hinz said he’s looking forward to the challenges of his new job.

“There’s a vision here and a story here that can alter the course of the future of the city and the county,” said Hinz. “Telling the story becomes part of the story and we realize the vision and dream of when Raise the Roof for the Arts bought the building.

“I want to fill the facility with arts and cultural activities for the community,” he said. “The theater can be an economic driving force for downtown Sidney. You’ll be seeing people from beyond the county coming to the theater. We’ll have the same quality of arts here that the bigger cities has.”

Hinz also wants to expand the educational opportunities for local students.

“We can have an educational impact on art education in the county,” he said. “We’ll be able to open the students’ minds to new experiences and let them see the world differently.

“We want to give back to the community,” he said.

Hinz interest in the arts began while attending St. Charles High School in Columbus.

“I was a singer in the high school choir. I liked sports a lot. I enjoyed the school musical and I was hooked,” he said.

After high school he was accepted into the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, Athens. The call of theater was strong so he transferred to the theater program at OU to study playwriting.

“The theater program there was great,” he said. “There was the old theater guild there to learn from. They taught me a wealth of knowledge.

“I have an obligation to pass that information on to others,” he said.

Before moving to Sidney, Hinz and his wife, Celeste, were employed by the Ensemble Theatre in Cleveland Heights. Celeste is still in Cleveland to finish up the theater’s season as its executive artistic director.

He has also been employed by the Cain Park Amphitheater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio State University, Cleveland State and was a producer/director for the Tantrum Theatre at the Ohio University professional theatre in Dublin.

When he’s not working, Hinz enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, watching OSU football and spending time with his parents and his siblings.


By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.