Genesee Community College has announced that Maryanne Arena, director of Fine and Performing Arts, is a recipient of a GO-ART! Community Arts Award. She will be recognized for her contributions to art and culture in the Genesee-Orleans communities at the 11th annual Community Arts Awards Gala on Saturday, Oct. 1.
It is being held at Terry Hills Restaurant & Banquet Facility, located at 5122 Clinton St. Road in the Town of Batavia.
Arena is a professional union actor and has been directing and teaching theater for many years. She volunteers her time in the local community with annual Rotary productions and enjoys passing her professional skills down to the next generation. In 2009 she received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service for her dedication and outstanding commitment to GCC.
A native of Brooklyn, Arena earned her master's degree in fine Arts, Acting/Theater from Brooklyn College in 1994 and her bachelor of arts degree in Theater from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Before arriving at Genesee Community College in 2004, Arena spent five years successfully directing the Theater Arts program at Southwestern Michigan College, a two-year college located in Dowagiac, Mich.
Beyond her ambitious theater career, 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 theater. She also owns a horse farm, where she adopts horses, and has professional harness horses.
Arena treats her students like equals and teaches 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 upon which they are willing to fully focus their attention and energy.
"Maryanne Arena has made a point of engaging the community in the events and programs happening at the Genesee Center for the Arts," said Norman Gayford, GCC professor of English. "To Maryanne, the community involvement is the backbone of the community college concept. Her support of the arts throughout the local region is unsurpassed and we are excited to see her receive this award."
Arena was nominated by Lucine Kauffman, Randy Kaplan, Margaret DeBellis, Norman Gayford, Jeanie Thompson, Patricia Simmons, Christopher Montpetit and Luis A. Rodriguez. She will be honored with other GO ART! award recipients at the banquet.