A new Wilde Lake High will house 750-seat theater

January 23, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

Rebuilding at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, scheduled to begin this fall, will include a $1.2 million school theater, a 750-seat facility for performing arts education and community events.

Michael Galeone, president of the Howard County Arts Council, formally outlined those plans Friday during the council's seventh Business and the Arts Luncheon.

The annual program included the presentation of the 1993 Howie Awards, which were presented to Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and two Howard County residents for their support and development of the arts in the county.

Over chicken and apple pie at the Columbia Inn, Mr. Galeone urged the crowd of about 200 county government and business representatives to provide financial and moral support to the theater project.

The theater will open when Wilde Lake High School reopens in fall 1996.

"When it is completed, students and faculty at the school, community artists, and the citizens of Howard County will have a superior space for teaching, creating, performing and attending arts events," Mr. Galeone told the crowd.

The theater, which for now is being called the Theatre at Wilde Lake, will have a professional stage, a balcony for some audience seats and its own entrance and ticket booth.

The county is footing $400,000 of the construction bill. The state plans a bond issue for an additional $400,000, and the arts council is seeking another $400,000 through corporate and private donations.

So far, businesses have contributed $180,000 toward the theater.

Wilde Lake High School was chosen for the theater because it already is scheduled for major work and is in a central location in the county, Mr. Galeone said.

Arts council members said the theater is needed because of the growing interest and success of arts programs in the county. They attributed much of the success to this year's Howie Awards winners.

Many of the arts council's programs have been backed by BG&E, which received a Howie Award for its financial and leadership contributions since the arts council began in 1989.

"We all live in the community. Our kids live in the community. We can help give back to the community," said Joseph Hunter Jr., the manager of BG&E's information systems department, who accepted the award for the company.

In addition to BG&E, Ellen Conroy Kennedy, one of the founders of the Howard County Poetry and Literary Society, and Valerie Costantini, an associate professor and chairwoman of the Performing Arts Department at Howard County Community College, received the 4-inch-tall crystal statuettes.

"I can't get over it," said Ms. Kennedy, who lives in Columbia. "I don't usually get this kind of attention."

But the New York City native, who moved from Washington, D.C., to Howard County 20 years ago, was honored as the county's 1993 outstanding artist. She has made her mark in the literary world as a translator.

In 1968, she was nominated for the National Book Award for a translation of several works by Albert Camus.

"Ellen Conroy Kennedy is an artist and scholar in her own right," said Mary Toth, executive director of the arts council.

In addition to Ms. Kennedy's personal success, she and members of the poetry and literary society have attracted three Nobel Prize winners and other prominent figures to events in the county.

Ms. Costantini, who received the Howie Award for being an outstanding educator, has led development of the county's own talent through college and public school programs.

Ms. Costantini established history courses at Howard Community College in dance, theater and acting. She also established the only college actors' union in the state.

The Baltimore native has taught in Howard County since 1982. She moved to the county in 1985 and lives in Elkridge. She said she stays because of the growing local appreciation for the arts.

"I'm really honored by this award," Ms. Costantini said. "Howard County is such a wonderful community that supports the arts.

"We can't achieve more than we can dream," she told the luncheon crowd. "The arts help us dream."

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