In the video above, Will Barnette announces the $10,000 Brenda Billings Memorial Match.
The Denver Actors Fund Board of Directors has voted unanimously to name Will Barnette Interim President through 2016, Executive Director John Moore announced today.
Barnette, 30, succeeds his mother-in-law, Brenda Billings, who died of a brain aneurysm on April 13. Barnette, a Web Developer for TeamSnap, Inc., will serve until the end of the year, at which time a vote will be taken to make the appointment permanent.
Barnette felt an urgent need to continue the work that Brenda Billings had begun as well as to keep strong the ties the Billings Family has forged with the Denver Actors Fund, a non-profit that provides financial and practical assistance to members of the local theatre community in situational medical need. The Denver Actord Fund, which turns 3 on June 1, has raised $114,502 to help artists of all kinds in the local theatre community. An outpouring of support for the non-profit has followed Brenda Billings death, with more than $21,597 donated in her memory to date.
“Brenda’s time as President of the Board of The Denver Actors Fund was an official manifestation of the love she always carried for others,” Barnette said. “It goes without saying that Brenda’s shoes in this role are impossible to fill. As her son-in-law, I was able to witness her incredible capacity to care for others, and I will draw on this experience and inspiration as I join the Denver Actors Fund team.”
Barnette is married to Jessica Billings Barnette, the oldest child of Jim and Brenda Billings. They are the parents of 2-year-old Liam Barnette.
Barnette is a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School, like his father-in-law, Jim Billings. While Barnette married into a performing family – Brenda Billings was the Artistic Director of the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden, “I hit my peak as a performer playing Daddy Warbucks in Annie,” he joked. Barnette’s sister-in-law, Jamie Billings, will now direct an upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors there in Billings’ place. That musical, opening July 15, will star another Billings daughter, Jacquie Jo.
Barnette has a Bachelor of Science in Music from the University of Colorado Denver. Barnette worked as a sound engineer for public radio and sports TV for eight years before starting his own web development company. His small-business and engineering experience brings a unique perspective to a non-profit organization. Throughout his years as a Sound Engineer, and now as a Web Developer, Barnette has continued to be involved with theatre, from teaching musical theatre sound design at Denver School of the Arts, to sound design for his mother-in-law’s shows (including Hair and Hairspray for the Evergreen Players).
“Brenda Billings’ death paralyzed us with grief,” Moore said on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund. “Will Barnette came to us at our most vulnerable moment, lifted us up and got us moving again – even while he was dealing with his own, and his family’s, infinite sadness. He already has compiled a list of ideas and innovations that will not only continue the legacy begun by Brenda Billings, but propel it into an exciting new era. He responded to tragedy the way Brenda Billings herself would – by rolling up his sleeves and going to work.”
Barnette’s immediate goals include improving the Fund’s technological infrastructure; simplifying the donation process; and developing a large and unprecedented survey of the entire theatre community that will yield a useful demographic profile of the challenges faced by Colorado artists.
“Brenda Billings will always occupy an honored place in our hearts and in our history,” Moore said. “And having Will Barnette leading us will serve as a living testament to the incredible spirit of the entire Billings Family.”