Flourishing Summer Arts Scene

July 13, 1992

Despite a sluggish economy and fears of budget cuts earlier this year, the arts are flourishing in Maryland this summer. A smorgasbord of events are scheduled over the next two months, from the popular City Artscape festival to the annual William Kapell competition, part of the International Piano Festival at the University of Maryland College Park, which runs through next Saturday.

Artscape '92, which runs happens next weekend in the Mount Royal cultural corridor, promises new and better lighting this year on its main stage at the foot of the hill in front of the old B&O Railroad station as well as greater accessibility from the new Central Light Rail, which can deliver festival goers directly to the site. More than 1 million people are expected to attend the event this year, drawn by big-name talents such as Gladys Knight, Tammy Wynette, the Stanley Jordan Trio, Monty Alexander and Diane Schuur. This year's event will include dozens of activities ranging from poetry readings and craft workshops to big-band concerts and movies by local filmmakers.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Arts Festival at Towson State University has been enjoying a record year for its programs, which run through Aug. 2. Still to come this season are two musical comedies, "A Chorus Line" and "Nunsense," and the world premier of local playwright Patricia Plante's "George Sand: The Lioness of Berry," a one-woman show about the celebrated 19th century French writer and lover of composer Frederic Chopin. Also, soprano Carolyn Black will be performing "A Victorian Album," a recital of popular songs and readings from the diary of a Victorian-era women. The film and lecture series this year features opera on film, including classic productions of Wagner's "Parsifal" and Puccini's "Girl of the Golden West." And for kids, the Pumpkin Theater will put on "Jack and the Beanstalk."

One indication culture in Baltimore remains vibrant was the appearance recently of a new monthly publication, "Arts in Progress," chronicling the local scene. The tabloid-size newspaper highlights shows by local artists and editorializes engagingly about the economic benefits of a thriving arts community. A recent issue, for example, featured interviews with owners of the Nye Gomez Gallery in South Baltimore, articles about Polish women artists and the Bauhaus movement and reports on future trends for arts activity downtown.

With local galleries reporting retail sales up this year, area museums well attended and dozens of smaller performing groups and individual artists finding audiences for their work, there would seem to be little to fear for the health of the arts in Baltimore, even in these rocky economic times.

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