Ante up for art's sake, BMA asks Carroll officals

January 14, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

During their annual "touch-base" visit, administrators from the Baltimore Museum of Art asked the Carroll County commissioners yesterday for $2,500 in fiscal 1995.

Carroll previously has made no donation to the museum.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said the county "should raise our ante a little."

"I applaud our prudence, but we shouldn't be cheap," said Mr. Lippy in the meeting with museum officials. "Economic conditions in the state are a good deal improved, and we shouldn't get a free ride on things we can't provide here."

Museum officials based their request on the fact that at least 6,000 Carroll County residents visited the museum last year.

"Those are only the people who left their addresses," said Kimberly Y. Martin, a development associate at the museum. "That is an 8 percent increase over 1991, and we would like to keep the numbers growing."

She said that because the number of visitors from across the state "skyrocketed" in 1992 because of the Monet exhibit, it would be inaccurate to compare 1993 attendance with that year's.

"We hate to compete with police and fire services for your dollars, but sometimes we do," said Zoe Piendak, deputy director for museum administration. "Arts are a critical activity, part of the fabric of life."

Steven Powell, the county's budget director, said that the economy is improving but that "pent-up demands are increasing, too." He assured the museum administrators that their request would be "one of the issues presented in budget requests."

Richard J. Soisson, the county's recreation and parks director, said he would like to expand Carroll's working relationship with the museum. Ms. Martin wants to involve more Carroll County residents in the museum's programs and said the museum has several opportunities for students and senior citizens.

"Man and woman don't live by bread alone," said Mr. Lippy, who has visited the museum several times. "I love cultural things myself."

Next month, the BMA will open "Maryland Public Treasures: the State of the Arts," which will include one object from Baltimore and from every county in the state. Ms. Martin said she is working with the Historical Society of Carroll County to select an item from the county.

The museum's new wing for modern art will be completed in October.

"We try to bring in works from many areas and make them available to the public," Ms. Piendak said. "The public doesn't have to travel to New York or London to see fine art. We are just 30 minutes down the road."

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