Archive for the ‘Do & Go’ Category

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.


Moving Full STEAM Ahead!

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Can you hear the bells? Ready or not, it’s back to school time! Across the country families have traded beach bags for back packs and geared up for the start of a new school year. As we fall back into the swing of things, I am reminded of a quote from former President Barak Obama, “The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.” A solid academic foundation, coupled with the ability to be creative will equip our youth with important skills they need to thrive in this fast-paced and ever advancing world. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or arts administrator, let’s move full STEAM ahead together and ensure that all students residing in Montgomery County have an opportunity to receive the well-rounded education they deserve.

There is more information available demonstrating the benefits of art education today – both in and out of the classroom – than ever before. Studies have shown correlations between engagement in the arts and students’ academic, social and emotional well-being. Participation can lead to higher academic performance, improved critical thinking skills, greater ability to collaborate, and increased creativity, confidence, empathy and cultural awareness. In an area as diverse and cosmopolitan as Montgomery County, including arts experiences that are culturally and socially relevant to students is critical – particularly for those whose families have recently migrated to the United States. To borrow from a perspective piece in the Washington Post, “being culturally responsive means teaching art where the students are and with what interests them. It means providing space for them to express themselves and take a break from immersion in a new culture they otherwise experience all day long.” At the Arts and Humanities Council, we proudly support arts education programming. Want to learn more? Click here to read about our Artist Residencies in Schools program.

While most Americans believe arts education is important at all grade levels, nation-wide funding for these programs continues to dwindle. According to the Brown Center Chalkboard, this trend is “primarily attributable to the expansion of standardized-test-based accountability, which has pressured schools to focus resources on tested subjects.” Unfortunately, these pressures have disproportionately affected access to the arts for students living in underrepresented communities. Thankfully the opportunity for students to engage in creative experiences does not have to be confined to the classroom. Get those creative juices flowing after the final bell rings! Our bilingual Guide to Children’s Arts Activities is an excellent resource for after-school and weekend activities in music, visual arts, dance, creative writing and more right here in the county.

Whether you are an individual or an organization, parent or educator, student or principal, join the growing movement to keep the arts at the forefront of education! Elevate the critical role arts education plays in the lives of young people by sharing your story during National Arts in Education Week, September 8-14Remember: Stories + Data = Impact. Help us continue to demonstrate the transformative impact of the arts with lawmakers, stakeholders, and the greater Montgomery County community!


AHCMC Welcomes Tonya Jordan

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Meet our new Public Art Manager, a multidisciplinary arts administrator and 3rd generation D.C. native. We sat down with her to learn about her background in the arts, her interest in working for AHCMC, and more!

AHCMC: So, tell us about yourself.

Tonya: Working in the public art field has increased my understanding of what is to be a part of a community. Community comes in all forms whether its group focused, residential, commercial, industrial or any form of mixed use development. My family has lived in the Petworth/ 16th Street Heights neighborhood since the 50’s. Nowadays, it’s a fairly unique phenomenon that most of my neighbors have lived there for over 30+ years.  Even more important is the diversity of families our block has maintained—-with people of all ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic statuses. We have become like family—looking out for one another, cooking together, pitching in collectively when someone is in need, raising kids and staying socially, environmentally and politically active. This presents a different way of looking at collaboration and like public art, there are preferences, differing opinions and ways at looking at the aesthetics of a neighborhood and how it defines a community.

For me personally, growing up in DC and Maryland (Silver Spring and Takoma Park) in the 70’s and 80’s, two very dynamic and transitional decades—politically and artistically, was a joyful freefall! These two eras contributed to shaping my life, lasting friendships and the creative choices I’ve made and continue to make. Many of these choices were formed by relationships with access and exposure to the arts.

As children and teenagers, the arts (especially music) were a mutual connection for us, despite our different backgrounds—in the 70’s there were new kids from Vietnam, El Salvador, Jamaican kids, Jewish kids, kids with gay parents…Food, music, and our collective ethnicities were our cultural connectors and art was a shared curiosity through the exploration of fashion, design and popular culture.  It was a natural exchange. Growing up in the DMV also facilitated access to free museums on the Mall and a host of other special places throughout the region that were primarily free to enter.

AHCMC: Tell us about your background and what led you to the arts field and more specifically public art?

Tonya: Theater! It started with theater when my family lived in Montgomery County and I took my first theater class at Eastern Junior High. Back then, there really was no debate as to whether the arts would be part of our learning experience—it was just a given. I joined the drama team and debuted as the town gossip, Miss Soames in Our Town. The minute the audience fell over laughing, I was hooked!

In high school I snuck with some friends from Silver Spring and auditioned for the Theater Department at Duke Ellington School. I was in 11th grade and my parents were miffed, but I did get a degree in Theater from the University of Maryland. I loved that discipline, but not enough to starve for it! It did facilitate the realization that I had other talents and transferrable skills.

The 80’s which was such a crazy-creative and complex decade…Like the 70’s it was a period of abandon that was reflected in the art world. It was a rebellious, over the top and great time for experimentation and going beyond institutional boundaries in the arts! In DC there was Go Go music, the emergence of Hip Hop, the DC Punk scene at the old 9:30 Club on F Street, DC Space, District Curators, Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran and Woolley Mammoth Theater when 14th Street was still gritty. I was in a band called Noumenal Lingam. We had a close affinity to Sun Ra, storytelling in abstraction, improvisation and all out otherworldliness. It was an incredibly creative period for me personally.

My transition and interest in the visual arts began with a friend and artist Paula Stanley. She was/is a profoundly talented mixed media artist and showed me how to do beadwork and introduced me to Frida Kahlo. This was way before all that overhyped and saturated Frida craze. I was just intrigued by her, because I thought I was the only one that was proud of my unibrow! Her art was so brutally beautiful and her story, culture and politics were fascinating. Biography is a powerful through line in any form of art.

This curiosity paved the way for my exploration of other artists and how world history and art sparked creative, social and political motivations and art movements. This curiosity led me to curating independently.

AHCMC: What would you say is the defining moment in your career as an arts administrator?

Tonya: One of the turning points in my career was an amazing opportunity to work at the Smithsonian. I was given access to an incredible learning experience by an amazing woman-leader in the arts. I was mentored by other brilliant women and men.  It was there that I was able to build some intellectual, creative and management muscle by working on public programs and exhibitions related to Jazz. I was really fortunate and worked with curators, musicians, exhibit designers, archivists, historians, curriculum specialists and public programmers. That career turning point set the spark for a career in visual arts curation and more specifically, public art. I try to pay it forward, as I know how challenging and competitive it can be as a young arts administrator of color. Mentoring is so important. It brought me to where I am today.

AHCMC: How did you enter into the public art field and what are some of your most notable projects?

I worked in the Prince George’s County Gateway Arts District for about 7 years. I did some independent curatorial work, managed open studio tours, festival events and led some small mural projects. The DC Arts Commission was where I became fully immersed as a public art manager. Some of the more notable projects include the St. Elizabeths East Redevelopment (artist Sheila Crider), The Golden Triangle BID’s Murrow and Monroe Parks projects (artist Duillio Pasasriello), Kent Bloomer’s New York Avenue Gateway Wings, the 2014 5×5 temporary public art project with a host internationally renowned artists and curators and bringing New York’s Creative Time to DC at the Lincoln Theater. I worked with a very talented and dedicated creative team at CAH, as well as host of city-wide stakeholders, planners, BIDs and developers. I learned a lot about politics too.

AHCMC: What interested you to come work for AHCMC?

Tonya : Opportunity, and being able to demonstrate that as a striving arts administrator, I always want to bring something new, expansive and accessible to the communities I serve.  I’m excited about working with a new artist community as well. There is always something else to learn—just by the very nature the creative process and the fact that art is always in flux.

AHCMC: What are you most looking forward to as the Public Art Manager?

Tonya: Exploring the vastness of spaces to site public art and fine art in Montgomery County and working with Montgomery County communities, agencies and stakeholders who value the impact art has in our day to day lives. I’m looking to break new ground with exploratory and sustainable projects along with the people in Montgomery County.  Managing and curating exhibitions at the Kramer Gallery is the cherry on top!

Creative Voices and Cultural Happenings All Summer Long!

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

If there is one thing we in Montgomery County take pride in, it is our local cuisine! Cities across the county host “Taste of” festivals throughout the year, showcasing the delicious fare they have to offer. Attendees can sample a variety of dishes that make up their community’s culinary identity and expand their foodie adventures beyond what is familiar. Just as Montgomery County is filled with a plethora of delectable cuisine, it also has an expansive arts and humanities community waiting to be explored. This summer gather up your family, friends and colleagues and take part in your own Taste of MoCo’s cultural community!

From free concerts and film screenings to art exhibitions and historical events, Montgomery County’s residents and visitors, people of all backgrounds and walks of life, are participating in our creative community’s cultural happenings all summer long. Join them! Venture out and engage in the vibrant arts and humanities sector you have helped to create. Sample the multifarious cultures that make up the county’s dynamic cultural identity, discover various creative voices expressed throughout the county, and while you are there, experience the diverse audiences engaging alongside you. Not sure where to begin? We have you covered! Hop over to CultureSpotMC for our comprehensive calendar of events and activities, favorite picks, discounted opportunities and more.

Audiences attend the arts for different reasons. A study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that 73% attend to socialize with friends or family, 64% desire to learn new things, 63% want to experience high-quality art, and 51% are there to support the community. As you journey through our cultural community, take note of who is there and why they are participating. Find out what value they place in that experience, why it is important to them, and begin building relationships through personal experience and participation. As professional arts administrators, we know a cornerstone of building audience diversity is through relationships. Authentic engagement in communities can break down barriers and lead to discovering life-time patrons, community advocates, and future staff, board or committee members. All of whom contribute to making our sector more innovative, inviting, and inclusive.

We are excited to hear stories of your exploration and look forward to seeing you out and about, enjoying Montgomery County’s lively arts and culture scene.


Montgomery County Council Approves $5.6 Million Budget for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Montgomery County Council has approved a budget of more than $5.6 million for Arts and Humanities Council grants and administration. The resolution for FY20 is as follows:

  • Operating Support Grants: $3,374,941 (flat over FY19)
  • Small/Mid-Size Organizations, Creative Projects, Arts Education, and Individual Artist/Scholar Grants: $854,574 (flat over FY19)
  • Advancement Grants: $295,094 (flat over FY19)
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund:  $200,000 (flat over FY19)
  • Grants to Support Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District: $91,815 (flat over FY19)
  • Discretionary Grants: $250,000 (increase over FY19)
  • AHCMC Administration: $556,735 (increase over FY19)
Congratulations to our entire arts and humanities sector. We are thankful for your hard work and dedication to the field. The lives of Montgomery County residents are richer and more creative as a result.

AHCMC Welcomes Mariza June Avila

Friday, May 31st, 2019

Meet our new Public Art Intern Mariza June Avila, an aspiring graphic designer and recent graduate from Montgomery College. We sat down with her to learn about her background in the arts and what she is looking forward to most with AHCMC!

AHCMC: So tell us about yourself.

Mariza: I’m a first-generation Filipino-American, originally from San Diego, California. Last fall, I received my Associates of Arts from Montgomery College. I plan to transfer next spring and hopefully major in a mix of graphic design and traditional printmaking. As I have lived near the downtown Silver Spring area on and off for almost 10 years, I’m eager to deepen my relationship with the local arts and humanities community of Montgomery County. I am very thankful to CEO Suzan Jenkins for allowing me to continue learning with AHCMC as the Public Art intern!

AHCMC: What has your internship been like so far?

Mariza: It’s been quite an adjustment. Initially, I joined AHCMC through the Montgomery College Art Internship. When I started four months ago, I knew I would be dipping my toes into a little bit of everything, but I wasn’t sure to what extent. The AHCMC staff have been patient with me, showing me the ins-and-outs of operations. Upon learning that Amina, the Public Art Manager, would be departing, I felt like I still had so much to learn and would feel guilty if I did not “hold down the fort” until a new manager is hired. With two exhibitions already under my belt (The Shape of Things to Come and The County Collects II), I’m looking forward to the process of acquiring artwork as we wrap up the FY19 Contemporary Works on Paper Collection call.

AHCMC: What led you to the arts field?

Mariza: Honestly, college led me to pursue art. Since my dad is a civil engineer and my mom is a surgical technician in the operating room, I assumed I should be pursuing a STEM career. Outside of my studies, however, I was always involved in art. Growing up, I learned how to sing by listening to music. I sang in the school chorus, learned the clarinet and guitar, and eventually performed in talent shows. My “happy place” was at home, collaging, scrapbooking, and conducting experiments in my art journal. I also enjoyed taekwondo and being a member of my high school’s drama club. When I started taking art classes at MC Takoma Park/Silver Spring, I observed the successes and toils of being an artist from the staff, my peers, and professors, but I wasn’t deterred. Although it is a challenging lifestyle, I came to realize the arts have played an instrumental role (pun intended) in my journey of becoming the person I want to be.

AHCMC: What are you most looking forward to as the Public Art intern?

Mariza: I’m looking forward to getting involved in Public Art commissions. I want to see projects from the beginning planning stages to finish and conservation. I haven’t encountered an opportunity like that yet, so it would be interesting to get hands-on experience with the process. Also, I look forward to getting to know the AHCMC staff better. I absolutely love that most of us are artists in our own regard. I think our diverse backgrounds and interests definitely reflect the community we are representing.

AHCMC Strives to Set National Example in Equity and Inclusion

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this week we were thrilled to learn that (for the 4th year in a row) our Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Metro Division is officially ranked #8 on the list of top 20 most arts vibrant large communities, according to the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) Arts Vibrancy Index, proving once again that the inclusion of and investment in our County’s diverse communities contribute directly to our burgeoning creative sector’s $183M economic impact and serves as a model for our nation.  According to NCAR Director Zannie Voss, “…today’s climate of uncertainty makes it more important than ever to acknowledge and celebrate the essential role that arts and culture play in making communities…more vibrant places to live and visit.”

We are especially grateful for the entertainment, folk, and ethnic festivals produced in our Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Wheaton Arts & Entertainment Districts every year; we know that they add to the County’s vibrancy. AHCMC is proud to support these efforts and as a show of support, I encourage you to share this wonderful accomplishment!

As we strive to deepen our arts vibrancy and investment, we also endeavor to set a national example in equity and inclusion and learn from others. Recently, the Montreal Jazz Festival faced severe backlash for a controversial stage show, SLAV, featuring African-American slave songs performed by a largely white cast. The show’s performances were eventually canceled due to public protests and reproach of what many viewed as cultural appropriation. And historically in the musictheatre, and film/TV industries, the vast majority of featured artists and/or arts leadership directors are white men. This lack of inclusion leaves many voices and stories left untold, contributing widely to structural/historical racism and its effects on ALAANA communities in the arts. Considering the County Council’s Racial Equity Resolution adopted in April 2018, we know that the time is now to lead by example in Montgomery County. Our 2,000+ artists and scholars and 500+ arts and humanities organizations deserve nothing less.

In FY19 AHCMC is taking the necessary steps to realize our goal for more equitable grantmaking countywide. To that end, AHCMC is embarking on a fruitful partnership with Leadership Montgomery for the purposes of providing Racial Equity Training to our entire board and staff. Like our colleagues at  Arts, we believe this intentional examination of racial inequities will help us better understand root causes and systems, inform our understanding, and create solutions to address historical inequities in funding African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) artists, communities and arts organizations.  As we strive to achieve our Strategic Plan Goals, this expansion of our knowledge base will benefit all residents of Montgomery County without exception.

Whether mixing classical Hindustani music with beatbox, bringing a traditionally-costumed Chinese opera to local residents, or examining issues of mixed-race identity through memoirs, our FY19 grantees are producing innovative and community-minded programs and initiatives. So take a look at our FY19 Grants Brief to learn more and get out in our community to experience the plethora of multicultural offerings through!

Suzan Jenkins,

Montgomery County’s Political Candidates Vow to Continue Legacy of Local Support for the Creative Economy, Cultural Sectors, and Arts Education

Thursday, June 7th, 2018


June 7, 2018


Ceylon Mitchell


SILVER SPRING, Md. (June 7, 2018) — The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) announces the results of its 2018 Political Candidate Survey. AHCMC invited each candidate in the County Executive and County Council races to participate in the survey and share their platforms for the arts and humanities in the county with voters. The 39 participating candidates’ responses are available online at The survey includes responses from five of the seven candidates running for County Executive and thirty-four candidates from the six County Council races.

Unanimously, all candidates surveyed agree that, “appropriating local tax-dollars to advance Montgomery County’s cultural and creative industries is important in supporting the success of a strong local economy,” and outlined their ideas to stimulate the local economy through public-private partnerships between the arts and cultural sectors and the local business and philanthropic communities. Candidates additionally shared views on arts education in Montgomery County Public Schools, public art and creative placemaking in the county, and workforce development.

AHCMC believes these results will be informative and impactful as residents head to vote in the June 26 primary election. “The results of this year’s election survey demonstrates the overwhelming support and understanding that our future political leaders have for our vibrant local arts and humanities sectors,” said Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. “Whether they serve as ushers, volunteer at festivals, perform as artists, or simply attend local events, all participating candidates realize the joy, inspiration, innovation and quality of life that the arts and humanities provide to residents and businesses in our county.”

Supporting the views of many candidates, recent data provided by the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 study from Americans for the Arts show that Montgomery County’s arts and humanities sector contributes $183 million to the local economy, supports 3,805 full-time local jobs and serves 3.5 million cultural event attendees annually. Of the candidates who participated in the survey, 97% strongly agreed that public funding of the arts and humanities is important for sustaining the nonprofit cultural and creative sector in Montgomery County, and nearly 90% of candidates support the incorporation of the arts and humanities into STEM programs, expanding from a STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) philosophy.

Early voting begins on June 14 and runs until June 21. Registered voters can vote early at any of the 11 early voting centers the county is running this year.


About the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC)
Established in 1976, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) is the county’s designated local arts agency. Our vision is to provide leadership that sustains arts and humanities organizations, artists and scholars, and inspires participation in Montgomery County’s rich cultural assets. For more information about AHCMC, visit or connect with AHCMC on Facebook and Twitter.


June 7, 2018


Ceylon Mitchell


Montgomery County’s Political Candidates Vow to Continue Legacy of Local Support for the Creative Economy, Cultural Sectors, and Arts Education

SILVER SPRING, Md. (June 7, 2018) — The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County

(AHCMC) announces the results of its 2018 Political Candidate Survey. AHCMC invited each candidate in the County Executive and County Council races to participate in the survey and share their platforms for the arts and humanities in the county with voters. The 39 participating candidates’ responses are available online at The survey includes responses from five of the seven candidates running for County Executive and thirty-four candidates from the six County Council races.

Montgomery County Council Approves $5.3 Million Budget for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

On Thursday, May 24, 2018, the Montgomery County Council approved the budget of $5,356,943 for the arts and humanities. The resolution for FY19 is as follows:

  • Operating Support Grants: $3,374,941 (flat over FY18)
  • Small/Mid-Size Organizations, Creative Projects, Arts Education, and Individual Artist/Scholar Grants: $854,574 (flat over FY18)
  • Advancement Grants: $295,094 (flat over FY18)
  • AHCMC Administration: $540,519 (flat over FY18)
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund:  $200,000 (flat over FY18)
  • Grants to Support Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District: $91,815 (flat over FY18)
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.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu tours Montgomery County

Monday, November 21st, 2016

On November 5, 2016, Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) visited Montgomery County to tour its rich arts and culture sector. Hosted by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Chairman had the opportunity to tour many sites at Glen Echo Park Partnership whose mission is “to present vibrant artistic, cultural, and educational offerings” and promote the region’s diverse population.

Stops on her tour included the Art Glass Center, Adventure Theatre MTC, Photoworks, Yellow Barn Studio, and a showing of Hansel and Gretel at the Puppet Co. Chairman Chu was accompanied by Arts and Humanities of Montgomery County CEO Suzan Jenkins, Arts and Humanities of Montgomery County Board Chair Eric Siegel, Glen Echo Park Partnership Executive Director Katey Boerner, and Glen Echo Park Partnership Board President Rachelle Cherol.

See select moments from Chairman Chu’s artful experience in Montgomery County below:

Chairman Chu engaged with artists, students and community members and experienced a great showcasing of the work and talent from individuals and organizations that make Montgomery County the cultural destination it is today. We were honored and elated to have her visit the county.