From the Wings, the LIVE ART Story, is a documentary film about a group of children with varying abilities that came together to create an unprecedented performance that would change their community forever.

Erin Thomas-Foley woke up from a dream she had one night with a vision that, while seemingly impossible, planted the seed which turned into a great idea that would inspire those around her. In the dream, kids with special needs were performing alongside typically developing kids on a large stage for a big audience in a musical style performance. Over the years that followed, Erin, and those around her, would turn that dream into a reality.

Filmmakers Martin Montgomery and Bill Gaff spent six months with SPARC – The School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, documenting the inspiration behind LIVE ART, as well as the classes, rehearsals, and public performance for a performing arts program that had never before been attempted:  one that blended students with and without disabilities.

The film follows six students, their families and several staff members on their collective journeys throughout this program. We watch children and adults alike face their own fears, learn what empathy really means, and discover countless things they didn’t know about themselves and the world around them.

The film addresses the questions and fears that many people secretly harbor about the abilities and potential of kids with special needs.   It focuses on one way in which the arts and performance can have a lasting impact on a broad range of children and the audience for whom they perform.  Through interviews with children and showing them in stages of rehearsing and performing, the film addresses the questions: “How can children find their own voice?” and “Can the arts not only change the lives of children, but also serve as a vehicle for altering the attitudes of the citizens in their community?”  

The resulting show consisted of music, dance, and visual art all performed live to a sold-out house at the majestic Carpenter Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. The film includes performances by musical artist Jason Mraz and others, culminating in an unforgettable night of magic.


Directed and Edited by

Martin Montgomery and William Gaff


Produced by

SPARC - School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community

Martin Montgomery

William Gaff

Executive Producer

Mark Joy in association with Storyteller Pictures

Original Music Composed by

Daniel Clarke

Ajay Reddy

JC Wright


Director of Photography

Martin Montgomery


Featuring interviews with

Triton Arbitelle

Liberty Arbitelle

Beth Beckham

Taylor Bernard

Abernathy Bland

Chris Bullard

John Bullard

Kristin Bullard

Danaë Carter

Daniel Clarke

Debra Clinton

Tricia Coleman

Dr. Amy Corning

Catherine Dudley

Chaney Evans

Tony Foley

Claire Foster

Melody Foster

Heather Graham

Jeanette Gratz

Susan Greenbaum

Sam Hanczaryk

Jesse Harper

Brenda Hayes

Willie Hinton

Anne Marie Irani

Palmer Korpal

Dr. Katherine Matthews

Jenna McClintock

Dominee McNerney

Ben Miller

Candace Mraz

Jason Mraz

Elaine Ogburn

Ajay Reddy

Ryan Ripperton

Larry Schwartz

Natalie Schwartz

Andrew Scott

Hillary Smith

Pamela Stokes

Karsen Strong

Erin Thomas-Foley

Lelia Tyson

Courtney Vollmer

Amanda Wells

JC Wright


Associate Producers

Jay and Jennifer Ball

Teresa Caviness

Rick and Jane Costello

Mr. and Mrs. Brian Large

Pat Montgomery

Bruce Montgomery

Jennifer Montgomery

Ellie Montgomery

Maureen Gaff

Sydney Gaff

Nicolette Gaff

Jason Mraz  

Ronald G. and Karen R. Pusey

Kelley and Todd Stanley

Beverly Wallace

Pat & Harvey Williams

Patrick, Heather & Henry Williams


Assistant Film Editor

Phil Vollmer


Additional Film Editing

Sara Brutto


Additional Camera

Jason Faulkner

William Gaff

Mike Jarvis

Jennifer Montgomery

Victor MA Nash


Location Sound

Andrew Uvarov


Sound Mix

Gerardo Caligiuri