Archive for the ‘Do & Go’ Category

Budget Buster! FY14 Arts and Humanities Budget Approved

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

On May 23, Montgomery County Council approved a $4.8 Billion total operating budget for FY 2014.  The overall County budget, which reflects a 4.1 percent increase over the approved budget for FY 2013, “…Continues an investment in our economic and social infrastructure,” said Council President Nancy Navarro. Navarro also noted that, “…Budgets are a reflection of our values.”

Well, my friends, if that is the case, then I’m happy I live in Montgomery County, a place that values the arts and humanities, because the County Council approved a FY14 $4,921,700 budget for arts and humanities,  a 40.55% increase over the FY13 budget for the arts and humanities!

Here’s how it breaks down:

$3,921,700 for the Arts and Humanities Council specifically:

  • $2,511,563 for Operating Support Grants for Large Organizations
  • $491,807 for Small and Midsize Organization Grants and Grants to Individual Artists
  • $240,000 for Advancement Grants
  • $200,000 for the Arts and Humanities Matching Fund
  • $129,000 for the Public Arts Trust
  • $349,330 for AHCMC Administration

Additionally, we are thrilled that the County Council appropriated $1 million a year for five years for facility construction or improvement grants for new construction, expansion of a project, renovation of an existing structure or physical plant repairs critical to an organization’s arts or humanities mission.  We know this grant category will go a long way to help us attend to those repairs and renovations that had to be put off for far too long over the last four years of the economic downturn.

To read more about the approved budget click here. The budget will take effect July 1, 2013.

On behalf of the Board and staff of AHCMC, Thanks! to each and every one of you for the work you did to help pass this budget. Thank you for contacting your constituents, board members and council members to ask for their support. And Thanks! for attending the Potluck, the April 10 Hearing, and the follow-up working sessions. I’m proud of our collective work this year and I hope you are too. We look forward to working with you in the coming year and wish you a productive and prosperous FY14!


Good News for FY14 Budget

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

It takes a village… to advocate for increased public funding for cultural activities and I’m pleased to say that Montgomery County has an active village of arts and humanities advocates. This year, Montgomery County Arts Advocates (MCAA)  has been especially helpful in highlighting the needs and strengths of the County’s arts and humanities community. In collaboration with MCAA, the County Executive’s office, County Council and AHCMC’s board and staff have crafted a strong FY14 budget for the Arts and Humanities NDA.

So, let me be the first to congratulate Montgomery County’s arts and humanities advocates for their tireless devotion, for sending emails, attending meetings, bring yet another tasty meal to the County Council Potluck in early April, and most of all for demonstrating culture’s vital role to Council members. Congratulations on a job well done!

Our collaboration bore fruit on Monday April 29, when the the Health & Human Services (HHS) Committee of the County Council met. At this meeting the HHS Committee demonstrated its on-going commitment to keeping arts and humanities alive and vibrant in Montgomery County by recommending increased funding for FY14.

Chaired by Councilmember George Leventhal, the HHS Committee also includes Council President Nancy Navarro and Councilman Craig Rice, recommended:

• An $120,000 increase to Arts and Humanities NDA allocated as follows:
$2,511,163 Large Organization Grants
$240,000 Advancement Grants
$391,807 Small, Midsize Organization Grants
$349,330 Arts and Humanities Council
Total FY14 Arts and Humanities NDA – $3,492,700

• To support the County Executive’s recommendation of $1 million per year for five years for the Cost Sharing CIP to assist arts and humanities organizations with facility construction or improvements, new construction, expansion of a project, renovation of an existing structure or physical plant repairs critical to an organization’s arts or humanities mission

• That $200,000, recommended in the Department of Economic Development budget, be managed and distributed by AHCMC to match Executive Ball proceeds. Additionally, if funds remain in this pool after Ball proceeds have been matched, AHCMC can go back to the HHS Committee to discuss using other tools, like power2give, to exhaust the $200,000 pool of matching funds

• That two pools of funds in increments of $100,000 be put on the Council’s Reconciliation List and appropriated to the Arts and Humanities NDA should funds be available at the end of the budget session

• That $129,000 in funding for the Public Arts Trust for maintenance and conservation of the County’s public art collection remain as recommended in the FY13 CIP

I’m pleased to share this news with you and welcome your comments and thoughts as always. You can contact me at

Seeing Food an Exhibition

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Seeing Food featuring the work of 15 Montgomery County artists recently opened at the Kramer Gallery.  Over 100 people attended the reception, including a surprise visit by County Executive Ike Leggett. This exhibition of 40 works reminds visitors of Montgomery County’s agricultural roots and explores the ways in which artists have both viewed and manipulated food in paint, fiber, photographs, glass, video, and poetry.   For a “taste,” watch this slide show and leave us your comments below!

Seeing Food is on view through in the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery through May 24th.

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: