Archive for the ‘Do & Go’ Category

FY14 Budget Boosts Arts & Humanities

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Budget Increases Across the Board

On Friday, March 15, County Executive Isiah Leggett presented his proposed FY14 Budget to a packed house at the Executive Office Building. Mr. Leggett noted that, after several years of stormy economic challenges, shared sacrifices and cost cutting within Montgomery County government, the FY14 Budget represents a transition toward better times.

“It’s a better day,” Mr. Leggett told the crowd, “but not the day we hoped for.” Overall, the county budget is proposed to increase by 4.1% with increases proposed for education, fire/police, the arts and humanities, and certain critical services. For more details on the entire budget click here.

Funding for the Arts and Humanities Council is proposed to increase by $120,000 (almost 3.6%), bringing our total proposed budget for FY14 to $3,492,700. While this is not the 14% we asked for, it is greatly appreciated—especially, as our colleagues from social service agencies received flat funding.

Additionally, the County Executive also proposes a $5 Million/5 Year CIP for arts and humanities capital improvement projects and $200,000 for the Montgomery County Cultural Funds for the Arts and Humanities to leverage private sector funding for arts and humanities organizations throughout Montgomery County. The Public Arts Trust received a proposed appropriation of $129,000 for ongoing maintenance and conservation of the County’s extensive collection of public art.

In the aggregate, funding for arts and humanities for FY 14 is very positive. When you combine the $200,000 from Economic Development; $129,000 for Public Art; $120,000 for AHCMC’s grants and administration and $1M for capital improvement projects.

At the Town Hall Meeting on Friday and in the Advocacy Committee conference call, community members were pleased with the increases but suggested that now might be a good time to ask County Council for more general operating and program support funding.

Consequently, our strategy going forward is as follows:

  • We have asked for details from the various Montgomery County Government Departments regarding the budget items included in the proposed FY14 budget
  • We will host an Advocacy meeting with Chuck Short, Special Assistant to the County Executive, on Friday April 12 at 1:30pm at the EOB to hear the CE’s intention with regard to the overall budget and his thoughts regarding budget advocacy (see details below)
  • Once we receive the details from the various Montgomery County Government Departments and hear from Chuck Short, we can collaboratively craft a message and platform to take to County Council

I am also pleased to share with you these other important Advocacy dates:

  • Join us on April 2, 2013 10AM – 11:30AM at Pyramid Atlantic in Silver Spring for Advocacy 201-Taking Your Advocacy Efforts to the Next Level, a workshop led by John Schratwieser, Executive Director of Maryland Citizen’s for the Arts (click here to learn more)
  • Save the date for the Annual County Council Potluck at 5:30 -6:30PM Wednesday, April 10, followed by AHCMC testimony at public hearing (click here to learn more)

We look forward to working together in the weeks and months ahead. If you are interested in joining the Advocacy Committee, please contact  Want to make sure you’re receiving the latest advocacy news?  sign up here for our Advocacy Alerts and check out the Montgomery County Advocacy Toolkit here.

Curator’s Blog, Community Reflections, Joseph Craig English

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Joseph Craig English began as a commercial artist, working as a designer and then ultimately as an art director for a D.C. advertising agency. His fascination with the silk-screen process led him to produce his own fine art prints full-time. In our conversation, he explained how he wants his art to be both affordable and accessible to a broad public, preferring realism over abstraction because of the personal narratives that recognizable images can trigger.

Craig prides himself on always selling what he produces, but he pursues the subjects that interest him. Color often dictates what he chooses to portray. Always a camera on hand, he takes constant photographs, often recording places or views that are on the edge of neighborhoods or about to change. Although he regards his photographs as tools and a step along the way, it would be interesting to thumb through images he has amassed since the 1970s of the D.C. area.

To learn more about Joseph Craig English and his creative process, click here:

Musings on Art and Life with Cynthia Farrell Johnson

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

In curating “Community Reflections,” I had the pleasure of spending time with Cynthia Farrell Johnson, one of the featured artists. We had a rambling conversation that touched on the role of the artist in society, the connections between Cynthia’s travels as a U.S. diplomat and her art, the things that inspire her, and her plans for the future.

We often gain a perspective on our own culture when traveling abroad, and Cynthia observed that in many of the places she lived in Central America and Africa artists were much more influential and involved in the public policy debates of the countries.

“It was interesting,” Cynthia mused, “to learn how revered writers, and poets, and painters and musicians were in other cultures and in other countries, whereas here in the United States it is seen purely as entertainment….The role that the public intellectual plays here seems to me to be a bit different than the role they play in Latin America or Africa.”

“Why, do you think that is the case?” I asked.

We agreed that history is partly responsible, as Neil Harris argued in his 1966 seminal volume, “The Artist in American Society.” Deeply rooted cultural values are hard to transform. The country’s founders viewed art as a luxury and artists as marginal, so it is not surprising, that even today, Cynthia perceived marked differences in the role of the artist in society here and abroad.

To learn more about Cynthia Farrell Johnson and her work, click on this icon:

Visiting the Farm with Woody

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

As part of the research for Fragility, curators Michele Cohen and Crystal Polis visited Woody Woodroof on his farm, Red Wiggler Community Farm (a recognized 501c3 non-profit), located in Montgomery County, Maryland. Founded by Woodroof in 1996, Red Wiggler provides gainful employment for adults with developmental disabilities and supports organic farming.

The farm has also inspired much of the camera-less photography that Woodroof has been exploring in his banner-like cyanotypes. On the day we visited, the sun was shining and we enjoyed munching on crisp yellow tomatoes as we strolled among the rows of sorghum and other plants. 

We also had an opportunity to talk to Woody about his creative process.  Click on the audio icon below for excerpts from this interview.

Kramer Gallery Interactive: Cell Phone Tours!

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Artist Nancy Weisser

Like so many museums and historic sites across the country, AHCMC has launched a new audio component to complement artwork by Montgomery County artists featured in the Kramer Gallery. If you are the type of museum visitor who wants to learn more about what you are seeing, or even better yet “meet” the artist, new technology makes it possible.  Whether you are sitting in front of your laptop or standing in the Kramer Gallery, you can dial a number or scan a QR code to explore our engaging  new installation, Fragility.

Click here or Scan the QR code below with your phone to listen to an interview with curator Michele Cohen and glass artist Nancy Weisser. This brief recording dives into some of the techniques she used fashion “Her Labor of Love” and “The End of the Day.” The installations featured in Fragility.

Similar interviews will be available for every artist in the gallery through the new OnCell phone tour service. Please checkout this exciting new way to interact with local Montgomery County artists and the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room!

Curatorial Perspectives at the Kramer Gallery

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Betty Mae Kramer Gallery has just opened its 12th exhibition.  Fragility, featuring glass installation artist Nancy Weisser and photographer Woody Woodroof, marks a new direction for the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery, one that explores the edgier side of contemporary art. While both Nancy and Woody work with traditional art processes, each artist uses these processes in new and original ways. The results may surprise you.

Watch the video below to learn how curator, Dr. Michele Cohen, approached Fragility and her vision for the Kramer Gallery.

Don’t miss the opening reception for Fragility on Thursday, December 13 from 5:30- 7:30. While you’re at the Gallery, try our new audio tour. Use your cell phone to call a preset number and hear an interview with Nancy and Woody.  If you can’t come to Gallery, you can still access the audio tour by clicking on the images below:

Nancy Weisser

Woody Woodroof

Bethesda Artist Receives Fellowship

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Christopher K. Morgan of Bethesda was awarded a 2013 Artist Fellowship by The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation in Vancouver, Washington.

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, a national charity dedicated to the revitalization, appreciation and perpetuation of Native arts and cultures, has awarded a total of $200,000 in awards to 12 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists. Through the 2013 Artist Fellowships, the foundation recognized indigenous artists in six disciplines: dance, film, literature, music, traditional and visual arts. The artists, who live in eight states, received awards of $10,000 – $20,000 each.

The recipient of one of two awards in dance, Christopher Kaui Morgan (Native Hawaiian), is thrilled to be chosen for this $20,000 unrestricted award. “The funds this generous fellowship provides will greatly impact my work over the next year. It will afford me the time to investigate, to create and to find the right collaborators for a new solo work that I have been incubating but not had the resources to fully develop yet,” says Morgan. “Additionally, having just started a professional dance company a year and a half ago, it will also help me with the personal financial investments I made in starting the company.”

“It is our mission to provide support and to nurture the creativity of this country’s Native artists,” says foundation President/CEO T. Lulani Arquette (Native Hawaiian). “We congratulate the 2013 fellows for inspiring their communities, for their vision, their innovation, and for bringing the creative spirit of Native peoples to the world.” To learn more about the 2013 Fellows and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, visit the foundation at:

Mr. Morgan also received a FY13 Grant to Individual Artists and Scholars from the AHCMC ($3,000). Grants funds will be used to commission renowned choreographer Christian Von Howard to create a solo dance for Montgomery County based choreographer & performer Christopher K. Morgan. The work would be performed independently & for Mr. Von Howard in the ‘12-’13 season.

About Christopher K. Morgan
Christopher Kaui Morgan is a choreographer and dancer whose work stems from a belief in the urgency of live performance in an increasingly isolating, commercial, and digital world. Growing up in Orange County, California, Morgan learned the Hula of his Hawaiian ancestors from his family. He brings his diverse heritage and over 15 years experience as a dancer, educator, choreographer and arts facilitator to directing his Washington DC area contemporary dance company, Christopher K. Morgan & Artists. His 2010 work +1/-1, won the 2010 Dance Metro DC award for Outstanding New Work. In April of 2011 he was profiled by Dance Magazine as one of six breakout choreographers in the United States. Morgan also directs the Dance Omi International Dance Collective, an annual residency for choreographers in New York and is the Artist in Residence in the Dance Program at American University.  Learn more at:

AHCMC Welcomes Joe Frandoni to Team

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

AHCMC: We’re pleased to welcome Joe Frandoni to our team as the new Digital Communications Manager. During his first week, Joe let us interview him. Hi Joe! We’re delighted to have you on our team. Tell us what you’ve been doing before joining AHCMC?

Joe Frandoni: Before joining AHCMC, I worked as a marketing and strategic planning consultant for arts and cultural organizations. I helped launch a fashion brand in Italy, revitalize an historic theater in Cincinnati, Ohio, and work on capacity building programs and strategic planning at the Kennedy Center. I have always enjoyed finding new ways for organizations to share their missions, measure their community impact, and increase their operating efficiency. Consulting was a great way for me to do that.

AHCMC: You have two masters’ degrees in Arts Management, tell us about that.

Joe Frandoni: Well, I graduated from the H. John Heinz III College of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University with a Masters of Arts Management and the Università di Bologna in Bologna Italy, with a graduate degree in Innovation & Organization of Culture & the Arts. They were both incredible experiences. The way I was able to get two degrees in a relatively short amount of time has to do with the dual-degree program that was offered through both universities. I took 75% of the total course load at both universities and wrote a dual thesis acceptable to both institutions. The university essentially removed all of the overlapping classes and my summer break. But, it allowed me to live in Bologna for an entire year – which was delicious by the way, I highly recommend it – and gain a new perspective on how the arts were viewed in other cultures. I think living, learning, and working in both environments has benefited my perspective as a manager and my creativity as an arts advocate.

AHCMC: You’ve done some interesting work with performing arts groups, what’s the project you’ve most proud of and why?

Joe Frandoni: As a native of Cincinnati, I think that working with the Requiem Project to revitalize the historic Emery Theater has been one of my favorite projects. The Emery is one of only three acoustically pure theaters in the country and before the Requiem Project became involved in its revitalization, the building was essentially condemned.  At one point, there had even been a plan to turn the century-old theater into a parking garage. Luckily, the building is now being used regularly for programming while the company prepares for a capital campaign to fully renovate the huge 1,600 seat auditorium and attached classroom space. Helping to bring new performance opportunities, interesting art, and economic growth to my home-town was incredibly rewarding. I cannot wait to see what happens with the Emery in the future.

AHCMC: What attracted you to AHCMC and working for a local arts agency?

Joe Frandoni: AHCMC is always looking for ways to enhance the cultural community of Montgomery County. Through the shared services that are offered in everything from marketing to clean energy and the grants that are given out to fund both projects and organizations, I was inspired by the level support AHCMC offers non-profits in Montgomery County. I felt like this was a place that made a measurable impact and positive difference. I wanted to work here because I wanted to be a part of that impact and help support all of the fantastic arts and cultural initiatives that are blossoming throughout Montgomery County.

AHCMC: What are you looking forward to with this job?

Joe Frandoni: Honestly, I am really looking forward to working with all of the different cultural organizations throughout the county. I want to dig in and see what I can bring to the table in order to provide the best e-services possible for all of AHCMC’s constituents. The marketing, communications, and technology based initiatives will allow me to directly interact with many of the cultural organizations in Montgomery County, and that for me is very exciting.

PhotoKids: Why It Matters

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

If you think art is fluff, then think again. There’s twenty or more years of research to prove you wrong. Specifically, there’s a robust cadre of quantitative and qualitative evidence (click here) that arts-based programs not only help children do better in school, but for kids who are at risk for gang involvement, academic failure, teen pregnancy and juvenile delinquency, they can be a life-line.

Why? Because it’s not all snapping photos, bright colors, rapping and dancing. It’s hard work. Participation in the arts teaches children initiative and self-discipline–important skills every parents hopes their child can learn. Even more, group arts activities teach kids collaboration, cooperation and conflict-resolution skills.

So programs like PhotoKids, AHCMC’s summer hands-on science and photography program for at-risk youth, are very meaningful. They offer kids in economically-stressed circumstances a chance to participate in fun activities with caring mentors during unsupervised hours when they could easily be veggin’ in front of the television or engaging in a little B & E or worse.

This summer’s program took ten middle school students on a variety of field trips from the wilds of Great Falls to the exotic beauty of Brookside Gardens to the luscious hills of Butler’s Orchard. Along the way the kids learned about photography, science, and nature. They built strong friendships with new people. They amazed themselves, their families and the other people living in their apartment complexes with the sheer beauty of the photographs they took. Above all they gained great self-confidence and sense of self-worth, two important traits that can help kids say no to risky activities and make healthy choices for the future.

Enjoy the photographs below and go see the exhibit of PhotoKids at the Lobby Art Gallery, Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville) between now and Friday, December 14, 2012. If you’d like to make a donation to PhotoKids, click here and select Programs for At-Risk Children. 97¢ of every $1 you give to AHCMC goes directly to PhotoKids.

Images from Brookside Gardens

Lot of Love for Arts & Humanities

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

MCM reporter Sonya Burke starts off her two-minute segment on the Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities with these words: “There’s a lot of love in Montgomery County for the arts and humanities.”

Sonya, how right you are and on October 22, 500 people came out to celebrate that love. It was a magical night held at one of the County’s news performing arts spaces-the Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College (Takoma Park/Silver Spring).  If you didn’t make it to the Awards ceremony, then click on the video below and enjoy show!

More Video Options

Jud Ashman Receives Community Award (Video)
Gaithersburg City Council member Jud Ashman was honored with the “Community Award” at the County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities on Oct. 22. Ashman was recognized for founding the Gaithersburg Book Festival. You can watch him receive the award here.

“Absolutely Spectacular Night” (Video)
MyMCMedia’s Sonya Burke interviews Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council, after the County Executive’s Awards Ceremony. Take a look.