Archive for May, 2013

Budget Buster! FY14 Arts and Humanities Budget Approved

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

On May 23, Montgomery County Council approved a $4.8 Billion total operating budget for FY 2014.  The overall County budget, which reflects a 4.1 percent increase over the approved budget for FY 2013, “…Continues an investment in our economic and social infrastructure,” said Council President Nancy Navarro. Navarro also noted that, “…Budgets are a reflection of our values.”

Well, my friends, if that is the case, then I’m happy I live in Montgomery County, a place that values the arts and humanities, because the County Council approved a FY14 $4,921,700 budget for arts and humanities,  a 40.55% increase over the FY13 budget for the arts and humanities!

Here’s how it breaks down:

$3,921,700 for the Arts and Humanities Council specifically:

  • $2,511,563 for Operating Support Grants for Large Organizations
  • $491,807 for Small and Midsize Organization Grants and Grants to Individual Artists
  • $240,000 for Advancement Grants
  • $200,000 for the Arts and Humanities Matching Fund
  • $129,000 for the Public Arts Trust
  • $349,330 for AHCMC Administration

Additionally, we are thrilled that the County Council appropriated $1 million a year for five years for facility construction or improvement grants for new construction, expansion of a project, renovation of an existing structure or physical plant repairs critical to an organization’s arts or humanities mission.  We know this grant category will go a long way to help us attend to those repairs and renovations that had to be put off for far too long over the last four years of the economic downturn.

To read more about the approved budget click here. The budget will take effect July 1, 2013.

On behalf of the Board and staff of AHCMC, Thanks! to each and every one of you for the work you did to help pass this budget. Thank you for contacting your constituents, board members and council members to ask for their support. And Thanks! for attending the Potluck, the April 10 Hearing, and the follow-up working sessions. I’m proud of our collective work this year and I hope you are too. We look forward to working with you in the coming year and wish you a productive and prosperous FY14!


U. of Maryland Art and Architecture Students Spruce Up Long Branch

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Over the last twenty years public art has changed, evolving toward a hybrid art form that is part public engagement, part architectural extension, and part fine art.  New materials and especially new media have expanded the possibilities for artists.  Temporary public art has also grown in popularity: it is expedient, inexpensive, experimental, and often can do as much to activate a space, or at least draw attention to it, as a more permanent piece.

The University of Maryland is doing exactly what we need to do in Montgomery County to further the conversation about public art.   Architecture Professor Ronit Eisenbach and Sculpture Professor John Ruppert have teamed up to lead an exciting design initiative for a mix of architecture and fine art students.  This past semester 16 students designed and fabricated several installations for Silver Spring’s Long Branch Library and near-by Flower Hill Park.   Using ingenuity and recycled materials, students have  added whimsy, color, form and even sound to grab our attention and reframe our surroundings. Among them is In Plane Sight by Matthew Miller, Stephen Neuhauser, and Kristen Yeung.  Here designers employ strands of intersecting colored thread, reminiscent of early Sol LeWitt, to give vectors form, connecting the Long Branch Library upper plaza to the lower garden.  In another project, Nicole Hinkle, Alison Boliek and Carolina Uechi have used plastic zip ties to create a lush tropical garden in the unused flowerbed bordering the plaza.  Other installations frame stairways, serve as gateways, or provide a partial shelter that transmits light through clustered plastic bottles, punctuated with the bright color accents of bottle caps.

The project also has a serious side. As Eisenbach explains, “The larger scope of this project is community engagement; to examine how, with different types of art interventions, we can help to stimulate dialogue about the future of a place with those who live there.”

Just installed on May 5th the work will be up along Flower Avenue and the library grounds through May 20th. On Saturday, May 11th from 2-5 there will be community festival on the library grounds, featuring music, food, kids’ activities and art.  Come visit and leave us your opinion about public art. What do you like?  What would you create if you had the chance?

For more information go to

Good News for FY14 Budget

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

It takes a village… to advocate for increased public funding for cultural activities and I’m pleased to say that Montgomery County has an active village of arts and humanities advocates. This year, Montgomery County Arts Advocates (MCAA)  has been especially helpful in highlighting the needs and strengths of the County’s arts and humanities community. In collaboration with MCAA, the County Executive’s office, County Council and AHCMC’s board and staff have crafted a strong FY14 budget for the Arts and Humanities NDA.

So, let me be the first to congratulate Montgomery County’s arts and humanities advocates for their tireless devotion, for sending emails, attending meetings, bring yet another tasty meal to the County Council Potluck in early April, and most of all for demonstrating culture’s vital role to Council members. Congratulations on a job well done!

Our collaboration bore fruit on Monday April 29, when the the Health & Human Services (HHS) Committee of the County Council met. At this meeting the HHS Committee demonstrated its on-going commitment to keeping arts and humanities alive and vibrant in Montgomery County by recommending increased funding for FY14.

Chaired by Councilmember George Leventhal, the HHS Committee also includes Council President Nancy Navarro and Councilman Craig Rice, recommended:

• An $120,000 increase to Arts and Humanities NDA allocated as follows:
$2,511,163 Large Organization Grants
$240,000 Advancement Grants
$391,807 Small, Midsize Organization Grants
$349,330 Arts and Humanities Council
Total FY14 Arts and Humanities NDA – $3,492,700

• To support the County Executive’s recommendation of $1 million per year for five years for the Cost Sharing CIP to assist arts and humanities organizations with facility construction or improvements, new construction, expansion of a project, renovation of an existing structure or physical plant repairs critical to an organization’s arts or humanities mission

• That $200,000, recommended in the Department of Economic Development budget, be managed and distributed by AHCMC to match Executive Ball proceeds. Additionally, if funds remain in this pool after Ball proceeds have been matched, AHCMC can go back to the HHS Committee to discuss using other tools, like power2give, to exhaust the $200,000 pool of matching funds

• That two pools of funds in increments of $100,000 be put on the Council’s Reconciliation List and appropriated to the Arts and Humanities NDA should funds be available at the end of the budget session

• That $129,000 in funding for the Public Arts Trust for maintenance and conservation of the County’s public art collection remain as recommended in the FY13 CIP

I’m pleased to share this news with you and welcome your comments and thoughts as always. You can contact me at