Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Meet Maria

Meet Maria Van Laanen, the Fox Cities P.A.C.'s new president! 

Maria Van Laanen joined the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in 2001 as director of marketing and draws from more than 20 years of arts management experience. She has been instrumental in leading the organization since the beginning. For more than five years she served as vice president of communications and external relations. In 2011 she was promoted to executive vice president and assumed the role of overseeing the day-to-day operations for the Center. On July 1, she started her new role as president.

Get to know Maria with a few questions we asked her below.

Tell us about your background.
Before coming to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center I worked for a company originally called Jujamcyn Productions and through a series of takeovers eventually became what is now known as Broadway Across America. I was based out of Minneapolis and led the marketing campaigns for many Broadway series across the country.

What is your favorite show and why?
Choosing just one favorite show is nearly impossible for me. A few of my favorites include: Les Miserables, my first major Broadway musical I saw. I fell in love with every aspect of the production, especially the music. The Lion King holds a very special place in my heart as I was part of the Minneapolis team who worked on its world premiere. Julie Taymor's vision and artistry truly transformed the way many experience musical theater. I am also incredibly moved by the beauty and athleticism of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater every time I have the chance to see them perform.

What is the first show you ever saw?
Music was a major part of my life growing up, so my first performances were concerts. The first concert my parents brought me and my brother to was the rock band Tesla opening for David Lee Roth on his first solo tour.

Tell us about your first day working at the Fox Cities P.A.C.
I started working for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in 2001 while the building was still under construction. At that time we worked out of what is now the 222 Building. Since I was only the second employee, my first day included ordering my computer and office supplies. I then began reaching out to local media and businesses to begin building many of the relationships that are still core to our work today.

Where are you from?
Although my family moved around quite a bit, the majority of my childhood was in Northeast Wisconsin and that is where most of my family still lives.

Tell us about your family.
My husband of 18 years, Chad is a high school teacher who works with at-risk students and coaches varsity football. My 13 year old daughter, is a great student and an avid swimmer for the Fox Cities YMCA Swim Team.

What are your hobbies?
I enjoy the outdoors when I am not in a theater. My family and I love to camp, canoe and hike when we have a weekend free. 

What are your questions for Maria? Ask them in the comments section.