Linthicum Impresario Helps An Artists' Showcase Flourish

Neighbors/ Ferndale/ Linthicum

Paal Founded To Close N.county's 'Culture Gap'

May 14, 1991|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff writer

Agents for performing artists call Eloise Vaughan from New York or Boston. They write from California and New Orleans.

They're lookingto book their clients -- musicians, singers, dancers. For 10 years, Vaughan's been the one to call.

The chosen few get a chance in the spotlight. Others end up amonghundreds of names in Vaughan's files.

The Linthicum resident isn't the booking agent for Carnegie Hall -- she's president of the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum.

Linthicum? Home of the arts?

Vaughan had her doubts 10 years ago when two art teachers from Andover High School (now North County High) came to her with a request. As members of the Anne Arundel County Commission on Culture and the Arts, the teachers worried that North County suffered a culture gap. They hoped the president of the Women's Club of Linthicum could help remedy that.

Vaughan and teachers Olin Yoder and Robert Nichols came up with the idea of a community concerts association that would offer four concerts per season for a $15 subscription. They sensed that North County residents would be interested, but would artists play Linthicum?

Before long, they had an answer to that question -- and 400 subscribers.

"Artists, that's what they like to do," said Vaughan, owner of a knitting shop in her home. "They're always looking forplaces to perform. There is so much talent out there. It's just knowing where to find the best entertainment."

The first season openedwith a concert by the Annapolis Brass Quintet. Gradually, the association known as PAAL made it onto more lists and directories, including the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.

This year, PAAL heads into its10th season. The number of subscribers has remained fairly steady, growing during the past few years to 538 members. And PAAL has increased the number of concerts, presenting five between October and May for $20.

Vaughan credits PAAL's success to years of "fine concerts for not much money. We keep the price low so as to be available to everyone," she said.

Last season, PAAL offered concerts by the Saturday Brass Quintet from New York City; the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania, a boys' choir from Scranton, Pa.; the Sounds of New Orleans, jazz musicians from Louisiana; the Bach Society of Baltimore, a choral group; and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, a 40-piece orchestra.

PAALaims to promote artists from the state and county, with at least twoarea performers each season. It also tries to offer a variety of performances.

Artists scheduled for the new season, which starts in October, include troubadour Bill Schustik; the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis, with Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" Nov. 23; the Peabody Ragtime Ensemble and Friends, with Mel Spears, Ellis Larkins and Delores Lynn May 3, 1992; and two others to be announced.

Vaughan has led the association as president for 10 years. Each January, a 25-member board of directors begins choosing artists and arranging concerts, working within a budget for artists' salaries. This year's budget of $14,000 comes from subscriptions, grants from the Anne Arundel Commission on Culture and the Arts, the state Arts Commission, and corporations.

The board typically sets three concerts before the season begins andarranges the other two after a membership drive.

"People have begun to say, 'They're always good concerts,' " Vaughan said. "They can trust us to put on good concerts even if they don't know who everybody would be."

For the 10th season, Vaughan wants to fill the 1,180 seats at North County High School, where most of the artists perform Saturday evenings. Linthicum Heights United Methodist Church is host to one concert each year on a Sunday afternoon.

Those who buy a subscription before May 31 receive a discount price of $17, Vaughan said.

For information about PAAL subscriptions, call Vaughan at 859-8047, or Pat Breidenbach at 859-8304.

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