Alvin Ailey, Galway To Headline Third Columbia Festival

65 Events Planned For Summer Program Of Arts, Culture

April 14, 1991|By Rona Hirsch | Rona Hirsch,Staff writer

The Columbia Festival of the Arts returns for a third summer with an11-day program of music, art and dance opening with a performance bythe Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and closing with renowned flutist James Galway playing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The festival will run June 27 through July 7 in a dozen county locations. It will showcase 65 events by 32 performing groups and more than 50 artisans, seven visual arts exhibits and several classes and workshops.

Last year's event brought 30,000 people, with a third from the Baltimore and Washington areas. Organizers expect that the festival will attract even more visitors this year.

The festival began in 1989as a three-day event on a $200,000 budget after local business leaders "got together and thought that Columbia might be ready to sustain a major arts festival," said Lynne Nemeth, managing director of the festival.

This summer's festival activities include performances bythe Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the Afro-Caribbean and modern dance group Garth Fagan Dance; composer and pianist William Bolcom and his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris; Spiderwoman Theater; songwriter Tom Paxton; and the Shizumi Dance Theater.

Many of the performers will also offer student coachings and workshops. The ChamberMusic Society will have a 10-day residency, and Garth Fagan will have a three-day residency.

Festival organizers are particularly proud of the residencies and rehearsals that are open to the public, hoping they will promote a greater appreciation of the arts and artists.

"Garth Fagan gives a lecture-demo so people can see what this dance is about and gain insight -- so when they go to a performance they can appreciate it. And we do that with most of our acts. They have some sort of activity, some sort of outreach," said Nemeth.

"Artistscan be asked questions. It's a wonderful opportunity. For 1992, we want to do even more."

Visual art exhibitions will be displayed at Howard Community College, the Columbia Center for the Arts, the Maryland Museum of African Art, The Mall in Columbia, Slayton House and the Howard County Center for the Arts. An artisan show of crafts juriedby the Maryland Institute of Art will be exhibited in booths surrounding the Columbia Lakefront.

Local theatrical, dance and music companies will also be featured. Performing groups based within the county are the Candlelight Concert Society, Columbia Pro Cantare and Kinetics Dance Theatre.

"Part of our mission is to present and supportthe regional arts association along with the BSO, combining nationaland international performers along with regional," said Nemeth.

With corporate underwriting, ticket prices are discounted "so that everyone can participate," she said. This year's operating budget of $525,000 is $55,000 more than last year.

"Only 5 percent of the population in the United States attend cultural events. That's one of the things we're trying to address here. And we do it by keeping ticket prices low and offering workshops. We want families to come."

The top-priced ticket is $27.50 for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater's sole performance at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

All 21 events at Lake Kittamaqundi will be free. Among them are the Annapolis Brass, JazzAmbassadors, the Dance Dimension and Interact Story Theatre. The BSOperformance is free to children 18 and younger and to full-time college students.

Organizers said they retained all past corporate sponsors and obtained a few new ones, despite the faltering economy.

Although organizers have not raised all they need, Nemeth said "we'rewell on our way," having collected $325,000 from sponsors and in regional foundation grants.

The non-profit event, in need of volunteers to do everything from picking up artists at the airport to ushering at performances, boasted a crew of 400 last year.

"That speaks alot for the community," said Nemeth. "We have a lot of support and it's demonstrated through the volunteers."

Organizers are planning an extensive direct mail and advertising campaign at the end of Apriland middle of May, respectively, expecting several performances to sell out immediately. Last year, eight events were sold out.

Planners are also working closely with the county school system, arranging for student ensembles to rehearse with different artists and distributing fliers in the classrooms that list the free activities.

"We are trying to break down that wall between kids and the arts," Nemeth said.

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