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Kevin Moriarty - Arts Council chief aims to enrich lives

April 23, 2006|By Kristin Wilson

If art can make people's lives better, then Kevin Moriarty has the power to improve the quality of life for the greater Washington County area.

As the executive director of the Washington County Arts Council, Moriarty said he sees it as his job to "enrich the social, economic, cultural and educational environment" of the Washington County community.

"I feel that bringing the experience of art into people's lives is an inherent good," Moriarty said. "Sometimes art is a language that works for people when other languages don't."

Since taking the reins of the arts council two years ago, Moriarty has beefed up the amount of programming offered through the arts council, established strong partnerships with other area arts organizations and moved the council's location to a visible spot near Public Square on West Washington Street.

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"When I came on the scene, I decided that we needed to become more visible," he said. "I felt that we needed to expand what we were doing. People in this community and this region deserve a high level of service."

This summer, the arts council has planned 24 concerts in partnership with the City of Hagerstown. That's a 700 percent increase in concerts over the three that were offered in 2004. Audiences can catch 16 storytelling events this year and about a dozen storytelling events connected with Hagerstown Suns home games.

"We're increasing the breadth of what we do and finding more venues to offer programs where people wouldn't expect to find them," Moriarty said.

And he's just getting warmed up. As Moriarty looks at a calendar projection for the year, he points to the summer months, chock-full of multicolored boxes indicating programming events. The rest of the year has a lot more white spaces, meaning nothing is planned, he said. That's going to change next year, Moriarty said. He's hoping to offer more programming and more art shows throughout the year.

"I continue to try and find ways to make us relevant," he said. "Everything we do is a process of building."

If Moriarty were still in school, his report card might note: "Works well with others." Much of what the arts council has been able to accomplish under his leadership is a direct result of building partnerships, he said.

Rather than competing with other arts institutions in the area for limited funding streams and grants, Moriarty said he sees one of the arts council's roles as promoting and increasing awareness among galleries, museums and other arts organizations.

"I want this arts council to be beneficial to every other agency trying to make life better in the community," he said.

One of the arts council's new friends is the Hagerstown Suns. Last summer, the two organizations started working together to put on storytelling events during the Suns' Sunday home games. Before the home games, children are invited onto the field, where Suns players take turns telling stories. The arts council was the beneficiary of last year's Hagerstown Suns Chili Cook-off & Music Festival.

"I see now is the time to strengthen some of these relationships and to dream up some new things that are interesting and beneficial to the community," Moriarty said.

Moriarty Q&A

Name - Kevin Moriarty

Address - Hagerstown

Date of birth - Oct. 7, 1957

Occupation - Executive director of the Washington County Arts Council

What is your most notable achievement? - I hope I haven't done it yet and that's the only answer I can come up with. Shouldn't you do that every day?

What is your proudest moment? - Nothing I've ever done has been about pride. And nothing I've ever done has been accomplished solo.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - No matter how old you get you always remember your parents. My parents were both very mindful people, very kind. They never forgot that you have to contribute to your community.

What is the best piece of advise you ever received? Who gave it to you? - If you're not having fun, you're missing the whole point. Moriarty's father, the late Aloysius Moriarty gave him that piece of advise.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - My goal this year is about excellent service and commitment to the best quality, he said of his work with the Washington County Arts Council.

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