A professional actor, director and educator, I found myself at life’s crossroad a few years ago. Though constantly busy and artistically challenged, I was restless and uncertain where my life was heading.

When I heard about the executive director opening at the St Lou Fringe Festival, I jumped at the chance to focus on a career in the performing arts that didn’t include living from a suitcase. I grew up here in the suburbs and have fond memories of attending shows at the Muny, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and many other venues. But, like so many kids, I couldn’t wait to leave the city on the river. Now, I’m incredibly grateful I found my way back home.

This year marks the 6th annual St Lou Fringe Festival and a year since I joined the staff, and I couldn’t be happier. The 2017 festival is producing two new works as well as welcoming back, by invitation, artists who have struck a chord with previous years’ attendees. If you are interested in vibrant, diverse theater and participating in our “test kitchen” for new art, I invite you to join us for the St Lou Fringe Festival Aug. 17-26.

One of the things that drew me back to St. Louis is the diversity of the city and surrounding region as well as how passionate so many people in St. Louis are when it comes to art and culture. There’s an interesting aesthetic to St. Louis that really draws you in. You can happy hour at an art gallery opening or two, see live theater and then head to a late-night concert. And you can still afford a delicious jazz brunch the next morning.

Since moving home, I’ve immersed myself in promoting and producing theater and culture for the region, and I’m particularly proud of St Lou Fringe’s work supporting local and regional theater. During the festival, you can see three headline acts, multiple featured acts and even “we don’t know” acts at select times, on our $1 stage. With more than 100 performances from 30-plus producers over two weekends in one neighborhood, there’s so much to enjoy. We hope you’ll join us!

I am Matthew R. Kerns, executive director, St Lou Fringe. I am MAX. M