Our History

Lois (far right) and Ernie (center) at the opening of Stairway of the Stars in 1979.
Lois (far right) and Ernie (center) at the opening of Stairway of the Stars in 1979.

Mission & History
The mission of Maywood Fine Arts is to provide affordable, quality arts and fitness education that will enrich and transform the lives of children and their families in Maywood and surrounding communities. Maywood Fine Arts began in 1979 with one couple, Ernie & Lois Baumann, and their dream to open a vibrant center of arts activity in Maywood. They saw a need to provide low-income families with affordable and fun educational activities, starting with Stairway of the Stars dance studio and Mr. Ernie’s Flip, Flop & Fly tumbling school. In 1996 with the help of concerned parents and community members, Maywood Fine Arts Association, a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation, was established. The organization continues to grow and inspire a brighter future for tomorrow.

The goal of MFA is to strengthen the community by combating drug activity, gang involvement, and teenage pregnancy. Providing healthy after school and weekend activities encourages children to reach their full potenial through arts and fitness education. Specifically, children are taught self-discipline, teamwork, and respect for others as they study dance, tumbling, karate, drama, visual art, and music. Active involvement in arts and fitness also gives children pride in their new accomplishments, resulting in a greater enthusiasm for learning and a stronger sense of community. Beyond arts and fitness instruction, MFA serves over 3,500 children through outreach programs that enrich and improve children’s health and well-being: Books Alive brings children’s literature to life through music and dance, Get Off the Street & On Your Feet (GOTS) is a unique youth leadership training and employment program, Classical Ballet for New Audiences is performed by Stairway dancers and guest artists for families who may not otherwise see these world famous pieces and Fit and Fun Healthy Families is a comprehensive program that features a wide variety of fitness and nutrition offerings for both children and their parents.

Organizational Highlights
– Each year over 750 individual children are enrolled in multiple arts and fitness classes.
– Since the inception of GOTS in 2002, every senior youth leader has gone on to college.
– Only 40% of expenses are covered by tuition. The rest comes from grants and donations.
– 15% of students receive scholarship classes and an additional 64% receive partial tuition scholarships or family discounts.