New arts group signals shift to private sector Nonprofit agency expects more funds

April 13, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

In yesterday's Anne Arundel edition, the date of the first public meeting of the Cultural Arts Foundation was listed incorrectly. The meeting is at 7 p.m. April 26 in the Chesapeake Room of the Heritage Center, 2664 Riva Road, Annapolis.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

A new arts foundation is forming in Anne Arundel County, but this time it's a private agency -- part of County Executive Robert R. Neall's determination to privatize county arts groups.

The nonprofit Cultural Arts Foundation, which will replace the Anne Arundel County Commission on Culture and the Arts this July, is holding its first public meeting next week.


The group is also accepting applications for a 30-member

volunteer board of directors.

"We're going to need nice, great strong people who are willing to give their time and support," said Carol Treiber, a program manager with the old commission and the acting executive director of the new foundation. "But we've found that in Annapolis and the rest of the county, people are very interested in the arts."

The board is open to all county residents, and the slots are not filled, Ms. Treiber added. The existing county group has an 11-member volunteer board.

The privatization of arts funding in the county has been %o discussed for several years, but the expected cut in county funding of the arts spurred the changeover, she said. The current county budget includes $134,000 in grants for local arts, which is expected to be lost under the new budget to be proposed by County Executive Robert R. Neall later this month.

Foundation organizers said they are optimistic a private fund-raising organization may be able to pull in even more money than the county has allotted for the arts.

"Everyone feels this will be a big asset to the arts community," Ms. Treiber said. "We'll be able to do fund-raising in a larger way than individual organizations have been doing now. A lot of corporate sponsors have not been tapped. A lot of organizations have gone for small grants. We want to look for the bigger picture."

Jeanette D. Wessel, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel Trade Council, said that while county businesses have been heavily tapped in the last few years, she expects them to continue supporting the arts as a financial benefit to the county.

"Everyone turns to the business community for assistance as belt-tightening occurs everywhere, and, financially, our business community has had its own difficulties," she said. "But this county has an extremely generous business community, people who recognize that having cultural and arts events and groups is an economic development benefit.

"People want to live and do business in areas with diverse leisure activities," she added. "My observation is that businesses will continue to recognize the impact of the arts on the quality of life here."

While the foundation doesn't plan to hold its own concerts, as do some fund-raising groups, it is planning one extravaganza for the fall.

Organizers even hope to get some money out of the county, perhaps next year.

The change to a private organization isn't unexpected. When Mr. Neall was elected two years ago, he recommended privatization.

Transferring certain functions now performed by government to the private sector would improve efficiency, he said.

"A lot of arts organizations realize they will have to do some very creative fund-raising, too," she said. "Many have come up with wonderful ideas."

For example, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra is holding its first jazz festival in June to help obtain private funding.

Some 70 percent of the subscribers to the Annapolis Symphony already donate additional money above the cost of their tickets.

Said Ms. Treiber: "People are learning to live with the economic times. We hope that we can inspire these people and convince businesses and individuals that the arts are a viable source for economic revenue in our county."

The first public meeting of the Cultural Arts Foundation has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in the Chesapeake Room of the Heritage Center, 2664 Riva Road in Annapolis.

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