Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

2017 Volunteer Award Recipient Elli Swink

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

At this year’s County Executive’s Awards ceremony, Mr. Ike Leggett will present the 2017 Volunteer Award to Elli Swink for her work with Damascus Theatre Company.

Reserve your ticket today and join us on November 6 at 7 pm as we honor Elli, and many others, at the 2017 Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in Humanities

Read on and get to know a little more about Elli.

In what ways do you think your involvement in the Montgomery County arts and culture sector is impactful?

I think working with the youth in our community theater company, our DTC Kids, is the most impactful thing that we/I do.  We are training them to perform live theater and also in the technical aspects of theater. Many have gone on to make this their career. In a small community like Damascus, this offers children and entire families an opportunity to work together to create something really wonderful and entertaining and they gain confidence and become so proud of what we’ve created together through our hard work.

What do you love about the arts and culture sector in Montgomery County?

I love the variety of musical, theater, and cultural events that Montgomery County has to offer. There are many theater groups and particularly groups for children and teens to become involved with to learn theater arts. I’m proud of the role our group has had in teaching theater to children and at a very affordable cost in part because of our support from the Arts & Humanities Council.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to get involved in arts and culture?

Get involved! Reach out to your local theater company and ask how you can help. Start with ushering to meet a few people and then be open to learning how to house manage or paint and build sets. Arts groups welcome people willing to volunteer.

What do you see on the horizon for arts and culture in local and global communities?

It seems that each year more and more theater groups are forming. I think that will continue. In these difficult times, theater offers a beautiful distraction to the despair many people are feeling.

What was your earliest “art spark” or impetus for an interest in the arts?

My interest in the arts and theater began when my sister’s middle school teacher selected her to play ‘Amaryllis’ in our community’s production of The Music Man in Waynesboro, PA. Seeing Debbie up there on stage and watching that musical was magical. Years later, I signed up to be part of my high school’s productions, working backstage on props and crew. Once I married and moved to Montgomery County and our daughter Maggie was old enough to get involved too, we all joined the Damascus Theatre Company. I credit my parents for taking us to community theater shows. This was the impetus for my interest in the arts.

Montgomery County Council Approves the Largest Budget for Arts and Humanities

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

On Thursday, May 25, the Montgomery County Council approved the largest budget for the arts and humanities. The resolution for FY18 is as follows:

  • Operating Support Grants – $3,374,941 ($66,739 over FY17)
  • Small/Mid-Size Organizations, Creative Projects, Arts Education, and Individual Artist/Scholar Grants – $854,574 (increased $75,713 over FY17)
  • Advancement Grants – $295,094 (increased $45,044 over FY17)
  • AHCMC Administration – $540,519 (increased $10,689 over FY17)
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund –  $200,000 (flat from FY17)
  • Grants to Support Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District – $91,815 (increased $1,815 over FY17)
  • Grant to National Philharmonic – $150,000 (earmark in line with that of FY17)

Total Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County FY18 NDA $5,506,943

The FY18 budget also includes:

  • Capital Improvement Grants – $800,000*

Congratulations to the entire arts and humanities sector. We thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the field. Our lives are richer and more creative as a result.



*While $1 million is available for Capital Improvement Grants, demand does not exceed supply in this category. Therefore, in response to a request from the County Council and Office of Management and Budget a portion of the funds will support $200,000 in renovations for the Noyes Children’s Library in Kensington, Md. We support this decision as it is in line with our mission to support the humanities.

Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County Celebrates 40 Years!

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

On Friday, April 21 the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery (AHCMC) celebrated 40 years of service to communities across Montgomery County with a board reception and unveiling of our new five-year strategic plan. This was an incredible milestone and pivotal moment for the organization.

In 1976 a small group of individuals with a passion for the arts formed what was then called the Arts Council of Montgomery County. The new nonprofit had three objectives: (1) to establish an art center; (2) to provide grants to artists, and (3) to provide space for artists to work, exhibit, and perform. Over the past 40-years, these goals were realized and the scope of our work, programs, and activities grew and evolved, resulting in a new strategic plan and mission statement: The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, in partnership with the community, cultivates and supports excellence in the arts and humanities, expands access to cultural expression, and contributes to economic vitality in the region.

The new nonprofit had three objectives: (1) to establish an art center; (2) to provide grants to artists, and (3) to provide space for artists to work, exhibit, and perform.

To celebrate our new strategic plan and mission statement, AHCMC held a reception at the home of our board chair, Eric Siegel. The reception was an evening of reflection on our 40 year history in Montgomery County and celebration of our service to the arts and humanities. The guest list included current and past board members, donors, Montgomery County council members, and AHCMC staff. This past January, our board approved the new strategic plan, which includes four primary goals: optimize grant making; invest in the organizational capacity of AHCMC; strengthen the capacity of the arts and humanities in Montgomery County; and augment the social, economic, and cultural development of the county.  Click here to read the entire strategic plan.

In addition to our new strategic plan, we turned a fresh eye to the county’s public art program with the release of The Public Art Roadmap, which is included in the strategic plan. The county’s public art program launched in 1978 and it was time for us to develop a new roadmap for public art. The Public Art Roadmap is a collection of key information on the county’s public art program and sets forth recommendations that will elevate the visibility and impact of the Montgomery County Public Art Trust and its programs. Click here to read the entire Public Art Roadmap.

The strategic plan and Public Art Roadmap reflect our dedication to making arts programs and cultural events accessible to all residents in Montgomery County, and we are fully committed to providing sustenance, opportunity, and growth to the arts and humanities sector of the county.

The reception was a magical event – a time for attendees to celebrate the past and plan for the future. A future that includes continued support for sustainable arts, creative place-making initiatives to increase vibrancy, and a grant funding portfolio that builds capacity in Montgomery County. We are encouraged and excited to embark on the next 40 years as the designated arts agency for the county

See below for photos from the strategic plan!

Penguin Rush Hour Returns

Friday, March 31st, 2017

On Wednesday, March 29, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC), Metro and Montgomery County gathered to celebrate the installation of an old friend, Penguin Rush Hour, a public art mural outside of the Silver Spring Metro Station.

The 100-foot mural, designed by Sally Callmer Thompson, is a whimsical depiction of penguin commuters rushing through the Metro transit. The mural was the result of a 1989 design competition sponsored by Metro to create a temporary mural near the Red Line station. Metro intended to display the original mural for only one-year. Fourteen years later, the mural had become a fixture at the Silver Spring Metro Station.

After years of exposure, the mural needed repairs and in 2005, Silver Spring Regional Center and AHCMC launched “pennies for penguins” to help restore the work. The 25-panel mural returned to the community as a permanent piece of Montgomery County’s public art collection, which includes 258 artworks and approximately 500 works on paper.

What I love about public art is that, unlike art that is viewed intentionally by going to a specific exhibit, public art is experienced where many people might not expect to find art, and through those shared public experiences, a lasting connection to that community, and the artwork itself, can be formed. –Sally Callmer Thompson

The celebration included CEO of AHCMC Suzan Jenkins, County Executive Isiah Leggett, Council President Roger Berliner, Councilmember Tom Hucker and WMATA Board Member Kathy Porter.

L to R: Council President Roger Berliner, Arts and Humanities Council CEO Suzan Jenkins, WMATA Board Member Kathy Porter, County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Councilmember Tom Hucker

“I’m happy to be here today to see an old friend return to its home in Silver Spring,” said Councilmember Tom Hucker, who represents Silver Spring. County Executive Isiah Leggett said, “We’ve done a great many things that have been important for our community. But I tell you everywhere I go, people stop and say to me – ‘When are the penguins coming back?’”

Well, the penguins are back and residents and commuters are delighted at their return!

See more moments from the return of the penguins here.

Maryland Arts Day 2017 Recap

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

February 14 saw major support and love ❤️❤️❤️ for the arts across the state of Maryland with Maryland Arts Day 2017. Hundreds gathered in Annapolis to advocate for and share the impact of the arts on the state’s cultural and economic vitality. Lawmakers, artists, advocates, educators, administrators and many more voices were brought together in conversation around and about the importance and sustainability of the arts in Maryland.

There were a number of amazing sights throughout the day. Here are a few of our favorites:

To see more, visit our Twitter moment here.

County Council Approves an Historic FY17 Budget

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

On May 19, the County Council approved what will be an historic budget for the arts and humanities for FY17!  The Resolution, once adopted on May 26, is expected to be as follows:

  • Operating Support Grants $3,308,202
  • Small/Mid-Size Organizations, Creative Projects, Arts Education, and Individual Artist/Scholar Grants $778,861
  • Advancement Grants $250,050
  • Administration $529,830
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund $200,000
  • Grants to Support Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District $90,000
  • Grant to National Philharmonic $150,000
  • Total Arts and Humanities Council NDA $5,306,943

We certainly could not have achieved such historic heights without YOUR advocacy - congratulations to us all!!!

Following the budget approval on May 26, AHCMC staff encourages all members of the arts and humanities community to attend our 3:00PM Community-Wide FY17 Budget and Advocacy Recap Phone-In to learn more about the finalized county budget for the Arts and Humanities and the impacts of our combined advocacy strategies. We look forward to hearing you there!


Advocacy Alert: FY17 Budget Strategy

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday, March 15, the County Executive  proposed a FY17 operating budget for AHCMC of $4,873,615.  This restores the $200,000 Matching Fund and provides an additional $200,000.

AHCMC has proposed an advocacy strategy during our community-wide Advocacy call:

Ask County Council to SUPPORT the CE’s proposed FY17 budget proposed for AHCMC.

AHCMC supports MCAA’s platform which asks for $500,000 for grants and AHCMC is asking for $100,000 for administrative oversight. We encourage you to advocate accordingly when meeting one-on-one with Council members.

This is how it will break out with Matching Funds restored but without yet allocating the $200k:

  • Operating Support Grants – $3,004,852
  • Small/Midsize Orgs & Individual Artists and Scholars – $698,883
  • Advancement Grants – $250,050
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund – $200,000
  • Wheaton A&E District – $90,000
  • Administration – $429,830
  • Yet To be appropriated – $200,000

Total AHCMC FY17 PROPOSED NDA – $4,873,615

Additionally,  the County Executive has proposed a $140,000 budget for FY17 for the Public Arts Trust; the budget for Capital Improvement Projects has been approved at $1M/yr for 2017-2022.

Thanks again to ALL of you for your diligence and support! Don’t forget to register for the Advocacy Potluck on Wednesday April 6 at 11:30pm followed by my testimony for AHCMC’s budget at 1:30pm that afternoon.


Working Together to Support Our Local Community & Economy

Monday, August 17th, 2015

The FY16 budget for the Arts and Humanities is approved, and in light of the many challenges facing our local economy we believe that this budget is a good one. We are pleased that rather than diminish funding for GOS, MSO, SOG, IAS, AIRSG and ASCG and AHCMC Administration as proposed by the County’s Emergency Savings Plan, that the County Council accepted our proposal to take $200,000 from the FY16 Matching Fund.

The County Council also voted to take $141,000 from the remaining FY16 CIG funds. Consequently, we will not accept any application for FY16 emergency capital improvement grant funds nor will we distribute matching funds in FY16.

The following FY16 amended AHCMC budget has been approved:

  • Operating Support Grants – $3,004,852
  • Small/Midsize Orgs & Individual Artists and Scholars – $698,883
  • Advancement Grants – $250,050
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund – $0
  • Wheaton A&E District – $90,000
  • Administration – $429,830

Total AHCMC FY16 NDA – $4,473,615

  • Public Arts Trust – $140,000
  • Capital Improvement Grants – $1,000,000

Thank you for your support of our Savings Plan proposal and for all of your great work on behalf of the arts and humanities in Montgomery County; we sincerely appreciate YOU!


FY16 Arts and Humanities Budget Approved

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

It’s official!  On May 21, Montgomery County Council approved over $5.8 million dollars in funding for arts and humanities in Montgomery County in the FY16 County Budget on May 21, 2015. The total allocation of $5,813,615, a 4% increase over funding for the arts and humanities in Montgomery County’s FY15’s budget, includes $698,883 in support for Small, Mid-Sized organizations and Individual Artists and Scholars, as well as over $3 Million dollars in General Operating Support to help fund the County’s largest arts and humanities institutions.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Operating Support Grants – $3,004,852
  • Small/Midsize Orgs & Individual Artists and Scholars – $698,883
  • Advancement Grants – $250,050
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund – $200,000
  • Public Arts Trust – $140,000
  • Wheaton A&E District – $90,000
  • Administration – $429,830
Total AHCMC FY16 appropriation (in all categories) $4,813,615. Funding notifications for Operating Support Grants will be sent by June 30, 2015.

Additionally, FY16 Capital Improvement Grants have been approved and are as follows:
  • American Dance Institute – $70,081
  • Montgomery Community Television, Inc. – $119,181
  • Round House Theatre, Inc. – $155,572
  • Sandy Spring Museum, Inc. – $30,170
  • The Writer’s Center, Inc. – $250,000
Total FY16 Capital Improvement Grants awarded:  $625,004
Capital Improvement Grants are awarded and contracted directly through Montgomery County Government. Should you have question or concerns regarding your contract, please contact Beryl Feinberg at or by calling 240-777-6022. Also, when your project is completed please let us know; I am certain AHCMC staff and County legislators would like to attend your ribbon cutting, if possible.

There are $141,000 in FY16 Capital Improvement Grant funds remaining available for emergency needs. Should you have an emergency Capital Improvement Grant Request, please contact our grants department by emailing Any request for emergency funding will go through an ad hoc panel process to provide recommendations to the AHCMC Board and County Executive prior to approval by the County Council.
As with all Montgomery County based grants, please make certain to send letters of appreciation to all Councilmembers; their email addresses may be found by clicking here; Congratulations to us all – wishing you All the Best in FY16!

The County Executive Announces FY16 Budget

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The County Executive’s Budget for FY16 is Positive for the Arts & Humanities

On Monday, March 16, County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his recommendations for Montgomery County’s FY 16 Operating Budget, recommending a flat appropriation for the arts and humanities for FY16.

The County Executive proposed a total budget of $4,442,700 for the Arts and Humanities Council. This budget proposal includes $2,876,763 in funds for general operating support for arts and humanities organizations and $90,000 in funds for grants to support cultural activity in Wheaton.  Given low tax revenues and other constraints and challenges on the County’s budget overall, we are pleased that the arts and humanities budget was not diminished.  We are also encouraged that the County Executive continues to support an additional $1,000,000 appropriation for capital improvement projects in our sector and $140,000 for public art.  We were able to do a lot of rebuilding in FY15 and this budget allows us to sustain that momentum.

Here’s how this funding breaks down:

FY16 Arts and Humanities Council Proposed Appropriation – $4,442,700 which includes:

• $2,876,763 – Operating Support Grants
• $616,557  - Small & Midsize Organizations & Individual Artists & Scholars
• $90,000 – Wheaton Cultural Grants
• $250,050 – Advancement Grants
• $409,330 – AHCMC Administration
• $200,000 – Arts & Humanities Matching Fund

Additional Appropriations:

• $140,000 – FY16 Public Arts Trust
• $1,000,000 – FY16 Capital Improvement Grants

Consequently, a total of $5,582,700 is proposed for the FY16 arts and humanities sector appropriation.

Overall, this is exciting news and we thank County Executive Ike Leggett for strengthening the County’s investment in arts and humanities organizations, artists and scholars through this “standstill budget”.

As always, we must continue our advocacy efforts and encourage the County Council to adopt the budget County Executive Ike Leggett has recommended. Here’s how I hope you can get involved:

Send a message of support to the County Executive, thanking him for this budget recommendation.  His email address and social media contacts can be found HERE

Also, plan to attend our Advocacy Potluck where you will be able to speak directly with the County Council to thank them for their support and hard work, as well as to encourage them to accept the County Executives budget recommendations.  We will be announcing the date of the potluck shortly; sign up HERE to receive our Advocacy Alerts to learn about this event and stay updated on our advocacy efforts.

As always, thank you for all you do to support the arts and humanities in Montgomery County.

Onward! Upward!