Arts council focuses on youth with grants

November 16, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - The sheet cake might have hardly been cut Tuesday night, but big pieces of a $20,000 pie quickly were distributed when the Washington County Arts Council celebrated its annual grant awards.

Several of those awards went to organizations seeking to expand youth programs.

"It's a key demographic for us in serving the community," said Kevin Moriarty, the council's executive director.

Youth programs not only develop talent, but also affect the entertainment choices of future adults, said Vicki Willman, development manager for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

MSO's expressed goal and a championed cause by conductor Elizabeth Schulze is to reach students at the elementary, middle and high school levels, she said.

The arts council's latest $2,400 will be used to send members of the string quartet into all Washington County high schools for master classes, Willman said.


"There's nothing like having an accomplished player come in," Willman said.

Brian Sullivan, executive director of The Maryland Theatre, said the $2,000 he accepted is earmarked for a Feb. 17 performance by the Philadanco Dance Co. He wanted to bring the company to Hagerstown after enjoying a piece about Rosa Parks while in New York City.

"I went outside and saw kids dancing in the streets. And I thought, 'How cool,'" Sullivan said.

Wanting to get local children that excited about professional dance, he is distributing free tickets to local dance schools and will host a master class. The arts council's grant and another from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour means tickets for the general public will be $10.

Area youth for the third year will be invited to Authentic Community Theatre Inc.'s 2007 summer camp programs through a partnership with the arts council and Washington County Board of Education.

"We basically use music, drama and the arts to educate, affect social change and create community cohesion," said Paul Perini, the organization's representative.

He said the Summer Institute for the Arts this August brought together 100 youths, interns and staff to showcase "Alice in Maryland." Together, they wrote the music and script based off the "Alice in Wonderland" story and then staged the production.

Washington County Arts Council Board President Donna Newcomer, herself an elementary school principal, said youth-oriented programs were a "huge piece" of the grants distribution. A panel reviews each submission from arts-oriented community development organizations.

"There's a huge thrust in the downtown to see our arts district grow," Newcomer said.

One of the largest annual events supported by the arts council is Western Maryland Blues Fest, which was allocated $5,000 for the 12th annual event. That event, which draws 10,000 people over a single June weekend, is financially supported at both the state and local level, said Karen M. Giffin, community affairs director for the City of Hagerstown.

Other grant recipients were Appalachian Wind Quintet, Potomac Classical Youth Ballet, Hagerstown Choral Arts, Augustoberfest, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hancock Arts Council, Contemporary School for the Arts, Washington County and Girls Inc.

The Herald-Mail Articles