Dayton-area woman makes arts accessible at Sinclair

Gina Neuerer helps the arts reflect society as chair of the college’s music, theatre and dance department

When Gina Neuerer was a child growing up in north Dayton, she was in charge of the talent show at her neighborhood’s annual block party. The thrill she felt reaching others continues today as she shows students at Sinclair Community College how the arts can reflect the community.

“I think theater has a responsibility to question and challenge society, as well as support and heal society,” said Neuerer, 55, the chair of the college’s music, theatre and dance department.

She does that in part by producing works that reflect timely topics, such as school shootings, same-sex marriage, sexual violence, mental health and more. And she helps to keep the arts accessible both with a series of free shows and by introducing the theater to a variety of audiences.

This she accomplishes while at the same time helping to teach Sinclair students the mechanics of their art, connecting the academic side to the creative.

“The lightbulbs that go off for me – and mostly for them – I think are really important,” Neuerer said.

The Free Expression Series that began under her tenure presents performances that react to social issues and are offered free of charge. Neuerer’s goal is for these shows to be just as prominent as the Mainstage.

Sinclair also offers the only show in Ohio with shadow interpreting, where sign language interpreters are on stage alongside the actors, Neuerer said. This year that will be provided during “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and We’re Home Alone!” The new family holiday show was commissioned specifically for the college to celebrate a variety of holidays and will be presented Dec. 14 to 17.

Neuerer has an empathetic approach both with students in their first show as well as veteran actors, said Kate Geiselman, Sinclair’s chair of the English department.

She cares for her students as a director, professor and mentor, and she works hard behind-the-scenes to shine the spotlight on others. Neuerer is driven to give the community access to the theater and to address issues in a meaningful way, Geiselman said.

“I don’t know that everyone who looks at the theater schedule knows that about her and her thoughtful approach to the theater in every way,” said Geiselman, who also has performed in several of the school’s theater performances.

Neuerer, who was born and raised in Dayton, now lives in Germantown. She herself studied lighting and stage management at Sinclair before earning an undergraduate degree in the field from Wilmington College followed by a graduate degree in technical direction from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

She taught at Miami University in Oxford for several years before taking a position at Sinclair. Neuerer said the move was a chance to give back to the place that gave her a purpose.

The community and college benefit from the arts program at Sinclair in many ways. They bring people to the campus, providing new experiences and feelings. And even the students who study the arts but then go on to be employed in other fields have new strengths.

“All of that is making our engineers, nurses, mechanics and mathematicians creative people,” Neuerer said. “We have to embrace that well-roundedness.”

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