State announces grants for local arts programs

June 20, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County arts community learned Wednesday that it is getting at least $130,785 from the state for 1998 programs.

That total will go up as soon as the Maryland Theatre Association grant is finalized. The theater's state grant for 1997 was $35,000.

The Maryland State Arts Council on Wednesday announced that Gov. Parris Glendening approved a budget of close to $7 million in 1998 arts-related grants.

Half of that will go to large, statewide projects, while the other half is reserved for county arts councils and smaller arts organizations.


Roughly $50,000 is set aside for each county-run council, with a little more going to the larger counties like Montgomery and Prince George's.

Washington County Arts Council will get $50,128, about $100 more than last year.

Barbara Bland, its executive director, said the 1998 funding will in part go toward moving the Franklin Street Gallery to South Potomac Street. At the new location it will be called The Gallery, she said.

The money will also be used to continue programs. "We're very dependent on the funding we get from the Maryland State Arts Council. That's half our entire budget. We couldn't function without it," Bland said.

Nine other arts organizations in Washington County will be getting more than $80,000. Included in that is $7,000 for the Western Maryland Blues Fest, $2,000 more than the 1997 grant; $43,000 for The Maryland Symphony Orchestra, $8,000 more than the 1997 grant; and $25,000 for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, $5,000 more than the 1997 grant.

Tim Toothman of the State Arts Council said the Maryland Theatre grant will be announced soon.

Marc Levy, director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, said that even though the state's grant is a small part of their $675,000 total budget, it helps them put on free concerts and reduce their prices.

"One of the rare things about the Maryland State Arts Council is they allow us to use the money for general operations," which helps with overhead costs and makes tickets more affordable, Levy said.

Karen Giffin, with the City of Hagerstown, said the same thing about the state grant and the annual blues fest: "That money helps, a lot."

Successful 1997 blues fest education programs such as harmonica workshops for kids and adult music learning projects encouraged the state to contribute more for 1998, Giffin said.

"(The state council) saw that we have a musical niche," she said. She also said that this year's attendance of 13,000 people, up from 8,000 in 1996, helped their case for more money. Total cost of the 1997 festival was more than $50,000, she said.

The city is handling the blues fest grant for 1998, which it took over from the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Center.

Washington County arts organizations fared well compared to neighboring counties. The Frederick Arts Council is getting $84,374, compared to Washington County's $130,785. Garrett County's total will be $59,751 and Allegheny's will be $85,711.

But none in Western Maryland come close to matching the state grants for Prince George's County, totaling $402,595, and Montgomery County, totaling $752,809.

The Herald-Mail Articles