Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

The Local Effects of a National Shut Down

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Today’s New York Times article, “Without Services, Small Businesses Feel the Pinch”, reports that business owners whose companies depend on government services such as a guaranteed loans, regulatory approval, and the operation of our national parks, worry about the toll the shut down may have on them.

This hits on the same sour notes we’re hearing in the cultural sector of Montgomery County, MD. From the shutdown of the Glen Echo Park Partnership on Arts and Culture (GEPPAC), to ticket, subscription and season package sales at the NationalPhilharmonic and at performance venues like historic Olney Theater around the County, the government shutdown is causing disruptions in business that are certain to damage the fragile upturn many in the arts and humanities sector had just begun to finally feel.

Presenters are reporting that ticket sales have dropped precipitously, citing patrons who are both declining purchases and deferring plans in an effort to once again tighten their purse strings in these uncomfortably familiar uncertain times.

With the school year ramping up, small businesses like the Puppet Co. and Washington Conservatory, to name but a few of the over 450 arts and humanities organizations and over 1500 individual artists in Montgomery County, MD, had just begun their seasons ten days ago. What was anticipated as the start of their seasons has turned into a non-starter.

GEPPAC, situated squarely on National Park Service property, is home to 14 arts organizations like the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery, Silver Works and other small businesses, all of which are shuttered, causing the Park to lose many of its 450,000 yearly patrons, students, evening and weekend crowds exponentially, day by day. Since the October 1 shutdown, conservative estimates of losses in our sector across the County reported to the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD have already exceeded $600,000 and will quickly topple $1M as this continues. These ten days of a government shutdown alone have been described as a catastrophic disaster. Moving performances and classes from GEPPAC has been an extraordinary challenge. Adventure Theatre is in the midst of its Goodnight Moon production to be followed by its annual Gala next week, and with the Park’s closure it finds itself with no venue for its performance or Gala while performers still need to be paid to stay available for the performance when the Park reopens.

Not to mention what this does to our collective reputations! As small businesses, if your clients fear your venue’s vulnerability with regard to opening and closing its doors, they are not likely to book the venue for weddings, receptions, rehearsals and other earned income opportunities, further depleting your organization’s coffers.

And while we’re discussing impact, it’s critical to keep in mind that these organizations employ accountants, security personnel, carpenters, auditors, facilities and operations managers, students, interns, moms and dads, just like any other small business.

Delays in funding from federal agencies, like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, National Education Association and closures, like the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution and other agencies, have caused many in the arts and humanities to come to a screeching halt resulting in heavy damage to cultural tourism in the Greater Washington Metro Area. The loss of income for many will have a trickle-down effect that will ripple through all sectors, a ripple that promises to wreak havoc with the County’s overall economy.

Presently, we’ve heard only two good news stories. One, that libraries are booming (unless it is the Library of Congress!). This may be attributed to the fact that libraries are a great place to find things to do with your family while you are out of the office and can’t afford childcare and provides access to the internet (so that you can find a job that’s not with our irresponsible government).

The second good news story is that we are in the midst of our eighth Non-Profit Energy Alliance round, which allows nonprofits in Maryland and DC to use their collective purchasing power to not only secure competitive electricity supply at lower cost, but to protect the environment and build a greener economy by supporting clean sources of energy that are essential to protecting our environment and building a new economy. That’s good news in that, if organizations can save on fixed costs, they’ll have a few extra bucks for program costs which are sure to rise the longer this standoff continues.

Announcing the Recipients of the 2013 Executive’s Awards

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Each year, Montgomery County recognizes the artists, scholars, organizations, and community leaders that have significantly enriched the region through the arts and humanities.  We are beyond thrilled to announce this year’s winners; and to prove it, we’ll be posting some very special features here on the blog.  We are gearing up for what will be an unforgettable night of celebration on October 21st, so definitely keep an eye on this space!

Until then, please join us in congratulating the 2013 Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities award recipients:


•  Lifetime Impact Award – Busy Graham, Community Arts Advocate

•  Lifetime Achievement Award – Nilimma Devi, Sutradhar Institute of Dance and Related Arts

•  Patron Award – Thomas D. Murphy, EagleBank

•  Community Award – Patricia Woolsey, ArtStream

•  Education Award – Betty Scott, Strathmore

•  Emerging Leader Award – Heena Genti, CREATE Arts Center

•  Outstanding Artist or Scholar Award – David R. Minton, Lumina Studio Theatre

•  Volunteer Award – Maritza Rivera, Mariposa Poetry


These individuals will receive their awards from County Executive Ike Leggett at a special awards ceremony on Monday, October 21st at 7PM at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center.  The event is free and open to all, and tickets are required.

Need a ticket? CLICK HERE to RSVP

Join us for a spectacular night of performance and celebration as we honor these extraordinary leaders in the arts and humanities.

Advocacy Potluck Gets Big Turnout

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Thank you, Montgomery County, for the great turnout for AHCMC’s annual Advocacy Potluck. This year, over 50 arts and humanities advocates prepared and shared a meal with six of the nine County Councilmembers, including Council President Berliner, Craig Rice, Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich, Phil Andrews, and Hans Reimer. Councilmembers Leventhal and Navarro sent regrets that they could not attend this year.

I’ve been at AHCMC nearly seven years now and I’m still impressed with the upbeat advocacy platform of this event. Volunteers flood the room with great tasting food. The room rings with laughter and conversation. And Councilmembers always show up (is there a Pavlovian aspect to this?).

Council President Berliner’s welcoming remarks were complimentary to the cultural community. A supporter of the arts and humanities as well as the green movement, Mr. Berliner was the motivation behind AHCMC’s creation of the Non-Profit Energy Alliance, which is currently saving 50 non-profits nearly $400,000 in energy costs. Mr. Berliner reminded everyone that we’re at the beginning of the budget discussion and that the County’s budget could still be affected by the State. But even that reality check didn’t dampen the enthusiasm in the room.

After the Potluck, advocates filed into the 3rd floor Council Hearing Room for testimonies. AHCMC submitted three testimonies this year: two in person and one in writing. Click on the names below to see testimonies by:

Suzan Jenkins, CEO of AHCMC, How the arts and humanities enrich Montgomery County’s community

Bethany Mattocks, Marketing Manager of CVB, How the arts and humanities in Montgomery County spur tourism

Business owner, Gary Skulnik. How the arts and humanities foster creative business


How the arts and humanities foster creative business

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Last week, we also submitted this testimony from Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents. Here, he talks about how arts education fosters the kind of creativity he looks for in his employees. Read his testimony below!

Good Afternoon Council President Berliner and Members of the County Council:

My name is Gary Skulnik and I am the President of Clean Currents; a home-grown company that was developed, incubated, launched and now conducts business in Montgomery County, MD. As a business executive and partner of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, I am pleased to show my support today for the County Executive’s FY13 recommended budget for this worthy agency.

Clean Currents has had the good fortune to work with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County in the Non Profit Energy Alliance, a creative partnership of the non profit sector, county government, and private business to provide clean energy to area non profits at rates that save them money, enabling them to focus more resources on meeting their mission. The Arts and Humanities Council was instrumental in making this happen. Without them, it would have gone nowhere. (more…)

How the arts and humanities in Montgomery County spur tourism

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Last week at our Public Hearing with Montgomery County Council, Bethany Mattocks, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Conference and Visitors Bureau (CVB) of Montgomery County, gave a thrilling testimony on how the County’s cultural scene spurs tourism in Montgomery County. Read her testimony below.

Good afternoon President Berliner and honored Councilmembers. Thank you for all of the great work you do on behalf of our County.

My name is Bethany Mattocks and I am the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Conference and Visitors Bureau (CVB) of Montgomery County. Our primary mission is to promote Montgomery County as a destination for business and leisure travel. Our secondary mission is to encourage local day trips and provide tourism related resources for County residents.

I also serve on the Arts & Humanities Council Marketing Committee and on the Board of Directors for VisArts Rockville. I am a lifetime Montgomery County resident and grew up in Silver Spring. I have seen Silver Spring flourish in the past few years, largely due to the number of arts organizations in the area. It is rare that within walking distance there are major arts venues such as AFI Silver Theatre, Round House Theatre and the new Fillmore.

As a County resident, it’s fantastic that I don’t have to go all the way to D.C. to experience a live music concert; I can experience a live music concert just minutes from my house! And next Tuesday, I’m taking a mosaic tile class at VisArts. Thanks to support provided by the County through the Arts and Humanities Council, opportunities for the CVB to promote Montgomery County, our great quality of life, stellar visual and performing arts and humanities, are truly endless.
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How the arts and humanities enrich Montgomery County’s community

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Last week, we encouraged Montgomery County Council to support the FY13 arts and humanities budget. Read my testimony below!

Good afternoon. I am Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County and a twenty-three year resident of Rockville. I begin my testimony today by simply saying Thank You!

Thank You! for your past support for funding the arts and humanities in previous Montgomery County Operating Budgets.

Thanks for considering support of the FY13 budget recommendation which includes flat funding for arts and humanities grants.

Given the slow economic recovery in the County and the nation, we appreciate that all areas of the budget are under close scrutiny. We understand the tough choices you make every budget season and the uncertainty of the County’s FY13 appropriations in the wake of State’s failure to pass a budget. So, first of all let us say Thank you!
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[INFOGRAPHIC] Let’s start with a dollar: the Economic Impact of the Arts & Humanities in Montgomery County, MD

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Did you know that in FY10, AHCMC’s 71 grantees created 3,448 jobs and stimulated the economy with $57,321,373 in total expenditures? Learn more about the economic impact of the arts & humanities in Montgomery County in the Let’s Start With A Dollar infographic after the jump.

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CEO Podcast: Montgomery County’s FY13 Operating Budget

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Listen to the latest podcast about how the FY13 recommended operating budget affects the arts and humanities:

Hi everyone, this is Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council and I’m please to report that the County Executive’s proposed budget calls for the appropriation of $3,286,700 to the Arts and Humanities Council for fiscal year 13. That’s level funding from FY12, and we’re very, very pleased about that.

In the context of what’s happened to many other agencies over the past years, this is really good news. In this budget, he seeks to strategically restore funding that was previously slashed to the libraries, public safety officers and social service agencies. He’s also recommended $50,000 for the management and maintenance of the Public Arts Trust in the Recreation budget, restoring about 36% to the previously zeroed out PAT budget. That’s good news all the way around.

First and foremost, I want to thank YOU for your support. I also want to thank my staff who serve as tireless cultural warriors behind the scenes to make the case for, and to help justify, our budget requests.

But the work’s just begun! Knowing what we know about the state’s need to address maintenance of effort and pensions, we know that some rocky roads may lie ahead. So now it’s time to make certain the County Council supports the County Executive’s recommendation – we can take nothing for granted.

Here are three action steps for you. You’ll also find these listed on our website just below this podcast:

1. Contact the County Executive and say thanks for recommending level funding.
2. Get connected. Sign up for AHCMC’s E-Advocacy Alerts, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. Social media and digital correspondence are our primary means of communicating with you. Whenever you see an email from us with “Advocacy Alert” in the subject line, you’ll know we’ve got news for you or we’re coordinating an advocacy action.
3. Stay tuned for our advocacy campaign. Our staff, with the advice of volunteers from the field, are developing an advocacy campaign and slogan over the next week. This is the message we’ll use as we meet with County Councilmembers to ask for level funding in FY13.

So again, thanks for ALL you do. It is highly important and greatly impactful. Onward and upward, happy spring and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming hearings Take good care, peace.

Visit our Take Action page now for a sample letter to County Executive Leggett and other resources.

CEO Podcast: AHCMC’s latest advocacy efforts

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Welcome to the new CEO Podcast! Hear Suzan Jenkins, AHCMC’s CEO, talk about our latest advocacy efforts at Maryland Arts Day. She’ll also talk about our latest campaign to support funding for public art maintenance and conservation in Montgomery County, as well as what went down at our first #CreativeMoCo Tweetup.

Additional resources

Maryland Arts Day

Support public art maintenance and conservation

#CreativeMoCo Tweetup

“Deferring maintenance of public art year after year is not economical.”

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Below is the second testimony submitted to Montgomery County Council last Thursday in support of the Public Arts Trust:

Good evening. My name is Dr. Michele Cohen. I was the founding director of New York City’s Public Art for Public Schools program for twenty years and I am currently a consultant to the AHCMC, the custodian of Montgomery County’s vast collection of public art. I have written books on public art, taught courses about public art, supervised NYC’s sculpture inventory, and managed a collection of over 1,200 artworks in NYC schools: I know the challenges of caring for art in the public realm.

Corrision, Leaching and Damaged Seating Element
Corrision, leaching and damaged seating element

Montgomery County has a significant public art collection, including portable works in government offices, murals and sculptural installations in schools, iconic pieces marking courthouses, parks, and community centers—works that add to the quality of life for all of Montgomery County’s residents and visitors. Nationally known artists include Muriel Castanis, George Greenamyer, Joseph McDonnell, and Mary Ann Unger. Over the last three decades, many agencies helped form this collection, but none have taken ownership of it. As years of deferred maintenance accrue, the condition of objects has worsened, and now about 15% or 50 major sculptural installations in public spaces require substantial treatment—more than just hosing down and waxing.

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