Genesee Community College is pleased to announce that Ms. Maryanne C. Arena, the new Director of Fine and Performing Arts has officially begun her position on Monday, October 11, 2004. Hiring Ms. Arena concludes a nationally-based search that resulted in the review of 45 applications, including candidates from as far away as Texas and Nigeria.
"Maryanne's application rose to the top from the beginning of the application review process," said Bob Knipe, Genesee Community College's Dean of Learning Technologies and co-chair of the screening committee. "She was a top-ranked candidate, and the first (of four) candidates we interviewed. After we met her, I think we all agreed that her experience and energy would be a terrific asset to the College, Genesee Center for the Arts and for our community overall."
The College enthusiastically welcomes its new arts director at a reception to be held Friday, October 15 in the lobby of the Stuart Steiner Theatre from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM prior to the 7:00 PM performance of Forbidden Broadway. The public is invited to attend the (free) welcome reception, and tickets to the cheerful spoof of Broadway hits, heroes, and starlets are just $6 for the general public, $3 for students / seniors, and $2 for GCC students.
Arena is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and spent the past five years successfully directing the Theatre Arts program at Southwestern Michigan College, a two-year college located in Dowagiac, Michigan. One of her many accomplishments at Southwestern was founding the Educational Children's Theatre Workshop featuring two productions per year and involving community members and children from local elementary schools, as well as college students majoring in Elementary Education. In addition, Arena also created a Drama Club, summer outreach project, and taught college courses in acting, directing, play production, children's theater, musical theater and theater appreciation. She supervised adjunct faculty and directed five live theater productions produced at Southwestern Michigan College each year.
Arena's experience is a dynamic blend of interesting opportunities both on and off stage, in and out of theaters. She earned her Master of Fine Arts, Acting/Theatre from Brooklyn College in 1994 and her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Magna Cum Laude) from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Her academic achievements are complemented by theatre management experience at Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, Virginia, Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts. During this prolific period of her theatre career, Arena produced, directed and/or choreographed more than 50 productions, from dramatic shows, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Goddess of Cancer, to musicals, children's programs and one-act play festivals.
Beyond her ambitious theatre career, however, Arena has had successes in other very active and significant professions. She was a New York City police officer and received a Medal of Valor for distinguished service. She worked as a radio disc jockey, dance teacher, small business owner and has lectured on a wide variety of topics including the U.S. Constitution, domestic violence, careers for women, and musical theatre.
Throughout Arena's intriguing life is one strong undercurrent?an interest in people and an innate ability to listen closely, particularly to the concerns, ideas and aspirations of her students. At Southwestern Michigan College, Arena treated her students like equals and taught them to embrace life's challenges no matter what comes their way. She tries to inspire students to "venture outside the safe box" and to "defy gravity" and encourage them to try anything with which they are willing to fully focus their attention and energy.
At Genesee Community College, Arena not only plans to concentrate on recruiting students to the College's Theatre and Fine Arts programs, but also to engage the community in the events and programs happening at Genesee Center for the Arts.
"After I settle in I would like to see the fine and performing arts grow," she said in a recent interview with the Daily News. "And (develop) community and high school involvement. I think you have to bring in the community?it's the backbone of the whole 'community' college concept."
Members of the screening committee were pleased with Arena's background, experience, and her overall approach to involve the community.
"It was a pleasure being a part of this process, and I'm anxious to work together with Maryanne. She exudes confidence, vitality and a sincere interest in her students," Kelly Kiebala, Program Director for Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. "To top it off, even in the interview setting she demonstrated her commitment to involving and being involved in the arts and cultural life of this community."
The screening committee for the Director of Fine and Performing Arts position included co-chairs Bob Knipe and Dolores Wilkin, Human Resources Secretary at Genesee Community College; Kelly Kiebala, Program Director for Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council; Patty Hawley, Genesee Center for the Arts Audience Services Manager; Ann Reid, Associate Professor, Music; Karen Taylor, Associate Professor, English; Carol Webster, Academic Associate; and Frank Mayo, Professor, Speech / Theatre Arts.