After a nationwide search, the Worcester Center for Crafts announced that Elaine McKenna-Yeaw has been named executive director, effective April 21. Her appointment follows the retirement of Honee Hess who completed her more than 30-year career in the arts and arts education in Worcester as the Center’s director for the past six years. McKenna-Yeaw will lead one of the oldest regional craft institutions in the country.
McKenna-Yeaw of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the 2004 founder and executive director of the Artists’ Exchange, a non-profit visual and performing arts center in Cranston, Rhode Island. that houses two black box theatres, multiple art studios and an art gallery. She created a secondary venue in 2013, Theatre 82, which hosts performances and classes.
Under her directorship, the Artists’ Exchange and Theatre 82 have grown into thriving, respected and successful arts venues that employ many artists, actors and directors and provide opportunities for visual and performing artists of all ages to produce, show and sell their work. In 2013, she also added Café to the mix, with McKenna-Yeaw serving as executive director of all three non-profits.
“I am proud of the strong partnership Worcester State University has with the Worcester Center for Crafts, and very excited to be working with Elaine as the new director of the Craft Center,” said Worcester State President Barry M. Maloney, in a statement. “We are eager to have her assist us in building on our long-term collaboration that joins two of Worcester’s longest standing educational and cultural institutions.” President Maloney also offered his congratulations to the Craft Center Board and Chair of the Board, Sheila Tetler, for the selection of McKenna-Yeaw.
“We are excited to have Elaine join the Worcester State University community,” Roberta Kyle, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Continuing Education at Worcester State, says. “She is highly creative, an innovative problem solver, a veteran community builder and has an entrepreneurial spirit that will allow the Worcester Center for Crafts to have an even greater impact on the Worcester arts community and on our students.”
McKenna-Yeaw graduated Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985 and a Master’s degree in psychology in 1989. Among many affiliations, she is a member of the City of Cranston Arts Commission and president of the WallDogs Mural Event Committee, which aims to bring 150 highly skilled mural artists from all over the globe to create 15 exterior murals in Rhode Island during a four-day event in 2021. McKenna-Yeaw brings a wide knowledge of the arts to the position as well as a commitment to connecting to the local community and has partnered with many non-profits.
The Worcester Center for Crafts serves the regional arts community as well as students of Worcester State University, which established an affiliation with the Craft Center in 2009.
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