Maria Van Laanen celebrates 20 years at Fox Cities P.A.C.


The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is celebrating a milestone anniversary of president and CEO Maria Van Laanen. Hired as the Center’s Director of Marketing and Communications in 2001, Van Laanen was among the first staff members to join the team as the community’s dream to have a gathering place to share in the live performing arts was about to come true.

First as director of marketing and communications, then as executive vice president and eventually in her role as president, which she took on beginning in 2014, Van Laanen has played an integral part in bringing the arts to life for students, community members, patrons, volunteers and staff at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. With an average of 400 events each year, she has been part of well over 7,000 events at the Center, helped to usher in 37 Broadway Wisconsin premieres, helped the Center reach fundraising goals including the $30 million Keystone Fund, celebrated more than 400,000 students participating in the Amcor Education Series and saw nearly 2.8 million patrons enjoy an exceptional live experience.

“Maria has offered exemplary leadership at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and in the community as an advocate for the arts,” said Fox Cities P.A.C. Board Chair Terry Timm. “We extend our deepest gratitude for her years of service in ensuring the Center’s mission stays alive in our community, engaging, educating and inspiring audiences of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.”

In addition, Van Laanen celebrated the amazing ways the mission of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center has been delivered. She has overseen the creation of impactful programs for students such as the Frank C. Shattuck P.A.T.H.S. Program and Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program and the execution of The Broadway League’s Family First Nights® and Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program. She has enjoyed working with community organizations and leaders on collaborative projects from virtual conversations to live performances, pieces of community art to accessibility initiatives that have helped more share in the arts together. Mixed in with these large milestones are the hundreds of smaller, individual moments Van Laanen says she holds dear to her heart.

“It has been an incredible journey to watch the Fox Cities P.A.C. be built by the community, for the community. By focusing on the Center’s mission, we have created many inspirational and impactful programs and I have been honored to have a front row seat in watching the community be transformed through the arts,” Van Laanen said. “It’s important to say that though I have been here for all of these moments, they are all made possible by the team at the Center along with community support. By sharing in these exceptional live experiences together and by inviting their friends, family, colleagues, students and neighbors to join them, our community is key in making the arts come alive.”


Maria S. Van Laanen is the president and CEO of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and has been with the Center since 2001. This state-of-the-art center completed in November of 2002 is located in Appleton, Wisconsin and contains a 2,100-seat opera-style theater, a 350-seat black box style theater and a 75-person private function space. Programming of this facility includes a Broadway series, a performing arts series and a daytime education series, making the Center a true gathering place for the community.

Maria draws on her nearly 30 years of experience in arts management as she brings a variety of groups together in the Fox Valley region, the State of Wisconsin and throughout the country to build programs based in live performing arts to explore the intersectionality of the arts in education, civic engagement and community building.

Maria is a Tony voting member of The Broadway League where she is a member of their Board of Governors, The National High School Musical Theater Advisory Board and serves on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Government Relations committees. Locally, Maria is the chair of the YMCA-Appleton Board of Directors, a member of Imagine Fox Cities’ Belonging Group as well as many other local advisory committees.

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