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'Creative Minds' sculpt city's arts offerings

March 12, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- The sign-in sheet reflected the diversity.

A painter, a sound engineer, an architect, an educator, a writer, an illustrator, a photographer -- all gathered Thursday at the Academy Theatre Banquet & Conference Center to help sculpt Hagerstown's downtown arts community.

The event was billed as a "Meeting of Creative Minds."

"Standard practice is always talk to the stakeholders," said Cindy Blackstock, the manager of Hagerstown's Arts and Entertainment District.

Nearly 100 people accepted an invitation for the event, which started with a free dinner, courtesy of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The arts supporters broke into groups, and the ideas flowed. They included:

o Nonprofit groups should work together and leverage themselves toward a common goal.

o Hagerstown needs more "places that invite people to linger and stay."

o Local performers should be promoted. Shops should feature the work of local artisans.

o A centrally located building could be a venue for music and theater performances and a home for classrooms and office space.

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o More events should be held to bring people downtown.

o The city needs affordable studio space.

o The Herald-Mail needs to write more preview stories about events.

o Government needs to get involved and show its support for the arts.

The Washington County Arts Council is working on an arts Web site, according to a flyer available at the event. The council has asked the public to submit designs for its new Web site.

The group heard an update from Michael T. Thorsen, principal of Washington County Public Schools' new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, scheduled to open in August on South Potomac Street.

"The energy is in the air," Thorsen said.

Blackstock said an additional goal of the evening was to create a good database of arts enthusiasts.

Rebecca Massie Lane, the director of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, offered the museum as a venue for the next summit. No date was set.

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