Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County Celebrates 40 Years!

May 11th, 2017 by Courtney

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

March 31st, 2017 by Michael

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

February 28th, 2017 by Michael

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.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu tours Montgomery County

November 21st, 2016 by Michael

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.

Making an Impact: The Wheaton Cultural Project Grants

October 4th, 2016 by admin

The Wheaton Cultural Grants, now in its second year, has supported artists and scholars interested in launching cultural and creative projects in the County’s youngest arts & entertainment district. Below, AHCMC’s Grants Manger Nabil Ghachem discusses the impact our grantmaking activities in Wheaton.

In 2015, we launched the Wheaton Cultural Project Grants category with the aim at invigorating its Arts and Entertainment District by supporting creative and cultural projects in the diverse and burgeoning community of  Wheaton, Maryland. The first round of the Wheaton Cultural Project Grants, funded by Montgomery County Council and the the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County had the following successes:

Diversity in pool of applicants
The pool of applicants represents diverse ethnicities and cultures, including Cambodian, Indian, Latin-American, and African-American. Out of the 22 applicants, AHCMC was able to fund 12. This indicates that given Wheaton’s cultural diversity, and if provided with the appropriate and adequate arts and cultural venues, Wheaton could be a magnet for arts performances and cultural events.

Diversity in art forms and scholarly disciplines

The FY15 Wheaton Cultural Project Grants included 4 outdoor projects that are open to the community, each featuring a specific art form (visual arts, theatre, dance, and music); 3 humanities projects that highlight the diversity of Wheaton communities and the urban nature that involves children, youth, and families; and 5 multi-discipline arts project that including poetry, film, documentary, chorale, and photography.

Collaboration
The Wheaton Cultural Project Grants helped artists, scholars, and non-profit groups to develop business acumen and think as entrepreneurs. During both pre and post award, applicants were able to connect with businesses, community organizations, and schools and were able to receive an estimated in-kind support and sponsorships for their projects of more than $60,000.

Impact
Combining the evaluative data with the values that guide the Wheaton Cultural Project grant may constitute a more complete story about our impact. Demographic realities, regional disparities, and access are a constant reminder of what should guide our approach to support the arts and the humanities. This is particularly important as it reflects national best practices among the field of arts philanthropy. The issue of diversity and racial equity in grantmakers’ portfolio has generated numerous discussion among private, public and corporate arts funders nationwide. The Grantsmakers in the Arts recent statement about Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy calls on funders to be explicit in their intentions and provides language in their guidelines that specifically takes into consideration the demographic changes and the under-representation of some communities of their grants portfolio.

To that end, the Wheaton Cultural Project Grants guidelines includes the following statement: AHCMC encourages proposals submitted by Asian, Latino/a, African, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) artists, arts organizations, and communities. This enforces AHCMC role as a social changemaker that focuses on actual debates with an eye on future challenges.

The Wheaton Cultural Project Grant is one step in that direction.

County Council Approves an Historic FY17 Budget

May 19th, 2016 by Suzan

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!

Onward!


Our 2016 Highschool Visual Art Award Winner Shares Her Story

May 12th, 2016 by GeVonna

Every year, AHCMC awards the Ida F. Haimovicz Visual Arts Award to a highschool student who posesses an extraordinary gift for the visual arts.  The honor includes an opportunity to mount a solo exhibition at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery & Music Room as well as a cash prize of $3,000 to support the advancement of a career in the visual arts.

Below, our 2016 award recipient Zoe Hall discusses her inspirations and shares her experience as this year’s winner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advocacy Alert: FY17 Budget Strategy

March 21st, 2016 by Suzan

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.

Best,

Social Justice and the Visual Arts

November 2nd, 2015 by GeVonna

Raised by parents who emigrated from Liberia, West Africa as foreign exchange students in 1978, Lendeh finds inspiration from her African heritage and explores themes of identity in landscape, portraiture and pattern design. She was compelled to initiate her most recent series of painted and printed portraits on silk in response to the public discourse surrounding the highly publicized Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin shootings. Below, Lendeh discusses social justice and activism through the visual arts and the origins of her current project, the “Pain Portrait Series”.

Lendeh Sherman:

Feeling enraged from the Trayvon Martin case and other high profile cases of police violence against unarmed African American men and women was really the starting point of several automatic drawings, a combination of portraits and textural marks.

Try On My Grief (Lesley McSpadden). Pigment Dye on Silk Crepe de Chine (16mm), Glass Beads, Thread. 2015.

Portraiture has always been a subject I enjoyed and I wanted to focus on the emotional turmoil of the parents because they are the ones left to suffer. More than capturing a likeness, the heavy toxic emotions they expressed is where I found my heart open and yet felt others completely closed.

“I wanted to create something that would totally confront you. I enjoy art that confronts social injustices because of the opportunity to engage in conversations on difficult issues with strangers where perceptions, opinions and beliefs can be challenged. I feel a sense of responsibility to focus on what disturbs me personally.”

I’ve had a mix of reactions to the Pain series. Most people are intrigued by the scale, materials, and are interested in the process. Quite a few people have mentioned feeling strong emotions from the images without even knowing the stories behind each portrait. I plan to continue working on the Pain portrait series as well as a series of portraits based on Ebola survivors which I have already started.


rise + fall: new works by Adjoa Burrowes and Lendeh Sherman” will remain on view through December 4th, 2015 at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery.  Lendeh has worked in the field of graphic design and has exhibited her artwork in many galleries and festivals including the International African Arts Festival, Artdc Gallery at Lustine Center, the Embassy of Liberia in D.C., Artomatic, A.I.R. Gallery and FestAfrica. To view more of Lendeh’s work, visit www.lendeh.com.

Transforming the Cardboard Box for “rise + fall”

October 30th, 2015 by GeVonna

Recently, mixed-media artist Adjoa Burrowes created an installation for the Kramer Gallery exhibition”rise + fall” composed of cardboard boxes and recycled paper-based  materials.  Below, Adjoa discusses her installation at Kramer Gallery and interest in working with repurposed materials.

Adjoa Burrowes:

In the past, my artistic practice consisted of primarily working in 2-D collage. My current work with cardboard boxes, however, was sparked by a cross media class I took at the Corcoran/GWU while working on my Masters. The professor encouraged us to experiment with a variety of media and to fully explore the true nature and meaning of materials. I was drawn to cardboard because it is so commonplace, yet the multiple layers consist of smooth and textured board that intrigued me, as well as the variety of natural tones inherent in the plain boxes.

“A box is basically a geometric shape with the ability to hold, house or conceal something – or not. Initially, my main concern was to transform these plain cardboard boxes into something else and at the same time draw attention to questions of our consumer habits and larger environmental issues.”

One aspect of my installation consist of large floor sculptures created from basic brown cardboard boxes that have been torn, twisted, folded and peeled to reveal multiple layers.My intent was to examine my consumer spending and draw attention to issues of consumerism and waste in western culture. Many questions came to mind as I worked on these pieces including: what do the items you value and consume on a regular basis say about who you are, the society you live in, and our culture? Also as an artist, how can I transform a fairly mundane object into something else?

Each of these brown artifacts was produced from a single cardboard box with the exception of one bright orange floor construction that was made from multiple shoe boxes. The colorful wall-hung sculptures were produced from primarily shoe boxes, either cut or torn into linear constructions. In many, several boxes were combined. Shadows play on the wall behind them. Many have a skeletal feel, reminiscent of an excavation. I tried to maintain the integrity of the object by refraining from using adhesives and fasteners as much as possible.

I worked as a packaging designer for large corporations across the country, including Mattel Toys, Campbell Soup and at one point even Barnum and Bailey Circus. I spent so many years designing detailed, elaborate packaging for a variety of foods and objects of play. I think it’s interesting that now I’m focusing on the opposite – the deconstruction of consumer packaging in my art practice.

rise + fall: new works by Adjoa Burrowes and Lendeh Sherman” will remain on view through December 4th, 2015 at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery.