Courtesy of MAPA. Photography by Peter Liu.

The Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) was in the midst of transition and growth when the pandemic hit nearly two years ago. Closing its doors then, like so many, forced a pause and a revaluation of the organization’s mission and its place in the community. Artistic Director David Johnston says, “It became painfully obvious. There was a void being created. How do we come together, help one another and create a better, more sustainable world?”

As the revitalization of Wailuku town has picked up speed through County infrastructure plans, MAPA focused on their role to manifest a thriving arts district. Johnston asked, “What’s the role arts play in the lives of our children and in ourselves? It’s not how the community serves the arts, but how the arts serve our community.” Seeing how the arts can bring renewed energy into a town, MAPA found their greater purpose and aims to lead the way.

This vision includes a new studio space for classes, as well as a reimagining of the old space into a black box theater. The studio space was built to serve all the art forms with new floors, soundproofing, updated air conditioning for Covid safety, refurbished lighting, and windows. But what’s more interesting is the new philosophy of the organization. Assistant Artistic Director Hoku Pavao says, “We want to serve the whole being, the whole child. The arts allow us to push boundaries, to question the world around us in a safe space. So we come back with strength of technique, but with a deeper side and fuller philosophy behind who we are. We believe they all serve each other and wonder, how do we weave it together?”

With this guiding principle, MAPA has introduced new teaching artists to connect the pieces. Drama and movement classes will incorporate voice. John Raul, the head of the voice program, will teach classes such as “Finding Your Voice” and “The Joy of Singing”, which focus on the artform and self expression, rather than getting the notes “right.” Another new teaching artist, Sage Simpson, will introduce “The Creative Body”, which will be offered free with any enrollment. The foundational class connects movement and theater for a more authentic, powerful performance.

Johnston adds, “We’re coming from a holistic viewpoint, not come to just take a class. But there’s hidden pieces inside of you. Let’s synthesize all of that.” This Spring, the doors of MAPA reopen and the future of arts on Maui shines bright.

Maui Arts Performing Academy is located at 2050 Main Street, Suite 3G, Wailuku, HI, 96793. To learn more about MAPA, visit