Dana Wieluns Legawiec, the new Executive Director for Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE), understands the impact of arts education. When she was sixteen years old, Dana was directed by celebrated American playwright Edward Albee in a high school production of his play Seascape. Her district had received a grant from the NEA to bring professional teaching artists into the schools. “We students had access to master classes and performances by preeminent American artists, right in our own classrooms and auditorium. Having exposure and access to the arts at that age was pivotal for me and set me on the path I follow to this day” – a path she intends to help pave for all Maine students in all of the arts.
Founded in 1973, MAAE has a long history of coalition-building, advocacy, and programming; building networks of arts educators, teaching artists, students, families, community arts organizations, and school administrators to provide support for arts education in the classroom and community. As its new Executive Director, Dana Legawiec brings with her three decades’ experience as a theatre artist, teaching artist, arts educator, and nonprofit leader. Says Board President Sandra Ruch, “Dana’s expertise, passion, and commitment to arts education, combined with her extensive experience in nonprofit management, is exactly what we need to lead the organization through its next phase of growth.” Prior to stepping into her new role, Dana served as Lead Teaching Artist in MAAE’s Building Community Through the Arts program and was also Executive Director for Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport.
Legawiec cites cross-sector partnerships as key components to strengthening arts education. “Dana came along at the perfect time for the Alliance,” says Martha Piscuskas, Program Director at the Maine Arts Commission. “We are delighted to partner with MAAE as they work to expand arts education opportunities in Maine after a such rough period during the pandemic.” Legawiec kicks off her tenure with a listening tour: “I’m curious about what students, educators, and artists need to allow arts education to flourish in their communities. What are the barriers? Where are the opportunities? And most importantly – what can we celebrate?”
Legawiec is co-Artistic Director of Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble and an Artistic Associate with the Camden Shakespeare Festival. She has taught at the University of Southern Maine and Colby College. She was awarded a Creative Community Fellowship by National Arts Strategies for The School Play Project, a program she founded to design, deliver, and advocate for free, high-quality, participatory creative theatre-making for children.
Legawiec believes that Art is Love. “I’m not talking about ‘hearts and flowers,’ but the kind of love that ignites bold expression, inspires curiosity, and draws attention to things we care about. Love creates relationships, it amplifies voices, shapes identities, and strengthens communities – this is what art does for our society, and why arts education is so important.” Anyone who has been positively impacted by the arts in education and would like to get involved is asked to send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit https://maineartsed.org for more information.
The mission of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education is to promote and encourage education in all of the arts for all Maine students.