Archive for October, 2019

County Executive Proclaims October as National Arts and Humanities Month in Montgomery County

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) is pleased to announce the proclamation of October as National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. NAHM began more than thirty years ago as National Arts Week and has since grown into a month-long nationwide celebration and recognition of the importance of art and culture in America.

“The creative sector has an enormous impact on our daily lives.” says Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council. “The arts and humanities enhance and enrich lives and communities across the country by creating and supporting jobs, fueling the economy, augmenting individual health and well-being, and initiating opportunities for civic engagement and social cohesion.”

This year’s proclamation acknowledges the significance of Montgomery County’s culture sector on the local economy, as well as its unique role and influence on the county’s diverse population. The arts and humanities are a thriving economic driver contributing $181 million to our local economy, generating nearly $17 million in state and local tax revenue, and supporting the equivalent of over 3,800 jobs. With a large immigrant population and four of the top ten most diverse cities in the country located in the county, the arts and humanities are a vehicle of exploration, encouraging individuals to learn about, experience, and enjoy the wide array of distinct histories and cultures.

As this month comes to a close, AHCMC will continue encouraging all to develop a lifelong habit of active participation in our cultural community. Through CultureSpotMC, Montgomery County’s premier arts and culture publication, residents can discover creative voices and cultural happenings, venture out and engage in new facets of the arts and humanities, and keep the celebrations alive all year long.

For more information, stories, and a comprehensive calendar of events, activities, performances, classes and camps in Montgomery County, visit: https://www.culturespotmc.com/

Uplifting Movements for Change

Monday, October 28th, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Last month, I had the pleasure of touring Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve with Leadership Montgomery colleagues and Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County Board Member Dana Pauly. We had a blast! Learning about the dedication of farmers county-wide; the process of milking cows with robotic milking machines, and the commitment these farms have made to implementing sustainable practices in order to protect the environment, animal welfare, and public health was eye-opening and uplifting. In case you are unfamiliar, in 1980 Montgomery County Council created the Agricultural Reserve to protect the county’s farmland and agriculture. This was one of the most significant land-use decisions in county history and now, the Agricultural Reserve encompasses 93,000 acres and retains more than 500 farms that contribute millions of dollars annually to the local economy. As we toured various locations I began to wonder, what more can the arts and humanities do to support our rural community and the county’s environmental policies? How can we increase our efforts to bring attention to these important issues in a way that encourages behavioral changes toward a bright and healthy future for Montgomery County?

Throughout history, the arts and humanities have inspired and uplifted movements for change. From photography and storytelling to pop culture music and sitcoms, the creative sector has provided “emotionally resonate experiences that lead to measurable shifts in power“. The Center for Artistic Activism speculates that this occurs because people will adjust their minds and behavior when they are personally moved by an emotionally powerful stimuli – and therein lies the power of art and culture to enact social change! When it comes to encouraging sustainable behavioral changes, creatives have been at the forefront for decades. Working to augment the messaging of pro-environmental education, policy, and research, while simultaneously helping society “grapple with the challenges to our values that environmental issues present in a way that education, policy, and research efforts cannot.”

A wonderful example of this occurred in right here in Montgomery County. In April of this year, Bethesda based artist Keira Hart-Mendoza used funding received by the Arts and Humanities Council to design an environmental art exhibit showcasing how much trash is created in the county and its impact on nature at Brookside Gardens. During peak season when everything is bloom, visitors encountered the juxtaposition of this beautiful garden filled with lots of plastic waste. The feedback received was a mixed bag. Some were inspired to make changes while others were disgruntled by having to confront the harsh reality of the negative impact our actions have on the environment. Either way, Keira Hart-Mendoza achieved her goal of causing people to “stop and look”.

As luck would have it, AHCMC was approached around the time I took the agricultural tour with an opportunity to cultivate public artworks with an Environmental Artistic Focus – one of six focuses identified in our Public Art Roadmap. The goal of this focus is to discover key opportunities for projects that could create excitement and energy for public art, as well as bring attention to the urgency of environmental issues. Through a collaboration between AHCMC and the County’s Department of Environmental Protection we have an opportunity to support the work of local artists creating temporary artworks that engage the community around the state of our environment, particularly as it relates to climate change, waste reduction and water quality. We look forward to working together to stimulate higher civic engagement, greater social cohesion, and to spark residents into action towards a more sustainable future.

Onward!