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Groups lobby for money in artful way

February 07, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County was well represented Tuesday as advocates descended on the capital to emphasize the importance of arts funding.

About 17 people from Washington County organizations were in Annapolis, one of the largest contingents, said Kevin Moriarty, executive director of the Washington County Arts Council, who helped plan the event.

After a brief lesson, arts enthusiasts became citizen lobbyists for the day.

The tips included "no lectures," "no threats" and "no bluffing."

Remind elected officials that you live in their district and that you vote.

Give them an "elevator story" - quick and concise.

Be nice to a lawmaker's staff.

"We are here to lobby and lobbying is not a dirty word," said Ardath M. Cade, the former chairwoman of the Maryland State Arts Council and chairwoman of Tuesday's event.

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Cade is a lobbyist for the Washington County Board of Education. She is helping the school system seek money for the planned Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown.

After awhile, novices tested what they learned.

More than 50 people from Washington, Frederick, Carroll, Allegany and Garrett counties filled a meeting room and schmoozed with their delegates and senators.

Washington County's group included people representing the arts council, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, The Maryland Theatre, the Washington County Board of Education and Hagerstown Magazine.

"This is actually very effective," Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said, surrounded by advocates. "You have people who are passionate about the arts. Many of them are volunteers and get no money for doing this. It's a big voting bloc. The arts are an activity that generates a lot of economic development and quality of life."

In the afternoon, Roger Giles, the Washington County Board of Education's director of system development, gave a presentation on how art is integrated into other lessons and about the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, a charter-style school expected to open in the fall of 2008.

At one session, advocates were asked to press lawmakers to protect $15.4 million in funding for the Maryland State Arts Council in the proposed 2008 budget, up 7 percent from this year.

Washington County art types, though, often get what they ask for, Moriarty said.

This year, both bond bills that were requested - one for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, the other for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts - will be filed, lawmakers promised. Each bill requests $300,000.

"We really come to Annapolis just to meet the legislators who happen to be our neighbors and who have always come through," Moriarty said.

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