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Arts Council director eager to get started in new position

December 16, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Closing out her 15-year run as executive director of the Washington County Arts Council, Barbara Spicher has been spending her final days easing her successor into the position.

Elizabeth Lay, operations manager for the Shepherd College music department, is performing the same service for Spicher as the two women are swapping jobs.

"My background is in music education," Spicher said in a recent interview in the Arts Council gallery at 41 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown. "I studied and perform in flute and will continue to do that."

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Spicher also teaches at Hood College in nearby Frederick, Md., and will continue to do that, too.

Lay came to the liberal arts college at Shepherdstown, W.Va., six months ago after seven years as an art administrator in Gaithersburg, Md. Before that, she was involved in the arts in Lexington, Ky.

"I also am a studio artist in my medium of textiles," Lay said, explaining her work in art quilts and furniture designing. "I still have several commissions to finish."

Now a Clear Spring resident, Lay said she is quite excited as she begins her stint with the arts council.

"This is what I love to do," Lay said.

Lay said she is very interested in the development of an arts and entertainment district in Hagerstown and how that can impact and be impacted by economic development in the downtown.

"The amount of money spent on the arts in Western Maryland is $31.5 million and involves the work of 839 artists," Lay said.

The Washington County Arts Council operates on an annual budget of $200,000, Spicher said. Contributions come from endowments, funding allocations from the Washington County Gaming Commission, the sale of limited edition prints, art/wine auctions, grants from city and county budgets and proceeds from the beer concession at the Western Maryland Blues Fest.

Run by a volunteer board of directors, the council employs an executive director and gallery manager as well as a part-time office assistant/editor of the Antietam Review.

Looking back, Spicher said she is quite proud of the work done by the council during her tenure.

"There is a huge intrinsic reward of what we do here to enhance the quality of life," Spicher said.

Looking around the gallery filled with diverse examples of the talent of many hometown artists, Spicher said the 34-year-old council - second oldest in Maryland - is very vital in the community with its monthly exhibits and poetry readings.

"We have created public murals, the Doubs Woods Art Camp, Wheaton Park Concerts, senior citizen art exhibits, scholarships, artist awards and the annual Children's Art Festival in the Park," Spicher said.

In her new calling, Spicher said she will follow the mission of bringing cultural programs to the college and the community.

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