Music Visual Art Theater Dance Writing

Midwest Artists Academy Director Passes Torch

founder and director of the program, B.J. Hollars, steps back, Arthur Grothe takes over

Sawyer Hoff |

PASS THE REIGNS. Arthur Grothe (pictured here talking to MAA participants) is taking over as Executive Director of the Midwest Artist Academy. (Submitted photos)

The Midwest Artists Academy was founded in May of 2020 to give young creatives a space to learn and craft their skills together through a one-week summer camp. Pulling together different creative disciplines – creative writing, music, dance, theater, and visual arts – high school-aged artists from all over the Midwest have come to enjoy the program for the last two years.

Recently, founder and director of the MAA, B.J. Hollars, announced he will be stepping down as director, and UW-Eau Claire Theater Professor Arthur Grothe will be stepping into the role.

“You can’t find a more committed or dedicated person,” Hollars said. “It’s really wonderful on my end to just know that the thing we’ve been building is now going to be in great hands. There’s simply no one better to do it.”

Grothe has been a part of the program since its beginning and is very passionate about what it has been able to offer for the young creatives that participate. So when Hollars approached him about becoming the new Executive Director, the choice was relatively clear.

“I felt a mix of honor, stress, and a little bit of fear – but good fear,” Grothe said. “If taking on something like this doesn’t scare you a little bit, then you’re probably not taking it seriously enough.”

Though Hollars is taking a step back as a director, he will still be heavily involved with the Academy by working with interns, social media promotions, and helping out wherever else he can. The program will mostly remain the same – barring any schedule changes due to weather or availability. 

“I think what makes the Academy so unique is that you can go across the world and find many music programs or art programs or writing programs, but I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a program that takes all of these disciplines, puts them together, and looks for a collaborative opportunity to work together to showcase every strength these kids have,” Hollars said.

This year’s program will be held from July 16-23 and applications will open on Jan. 1 and close on Feb. 1. More information about the event and schedule can be found at