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Arts supporters headed to Annapolis

January 23, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - A delegation of local arts supporters is scheduled to visit the State House next month and urge lawmakers to continue backing the arts with public funding, according to Kevin Moriarty, executive director of the Washington County Arts Council.

Moriarty said representatives from the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and the City of Hagerstown will join representatives from three neighboring counties Feb. 6 to address funding for the arts.

The Washington County delegation won't ask for money, but it will give state legislators examples of how public funding is used locally to support programs that benefit the community, Moriarty said.

"It takes resources to meet those expectations," he said. "It's time for us to bite that apple ... and make sure we get as good as anybody."

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State Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he fully supports the arts.

"It means tourism ... It means jobs ... It means economic development .... It means education," he said. "These things are very important to the quality of life in Washington County."

The Maryland State Arts Council has about $16.5 million in its budget, according to the state's Department of Legislative Services.

Some of the examples that Moriarty said the Washington County delegation will talk about in Annapolis include a publicly funded art camp and literacy workshop for children in Hagerstown, and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, a proposed multimillion dollar charter school for grades nine to 12 on South Potomac Street.

In addition, Moriarty said he plans to tell legislators that state funding can be used to promote the Western Maryland Blues Fest and Augustoberfest in Hagerstown. Such events help energize the local economy, he said.

In the past three years, the Arts and Entertainment District, which encompasses the four blocks around Public Square, has grown dramatically, Moriarty said. He credited public funding with helping spur the district's success.

"We're right on the edge where everything within the next year is going to transform," Moriarty said. "It's just going to explode."

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