Three to get Howie Awards for contributions to arts Musician, builder and ex-member of school board honored

January 13, 1995|By Patrick Hickerson | Patrick Hickerson,Contributing Writer

A developer, an entertainer and a former school board member will be honored today for sustained contributions to the arts in Howard County.

The Howard County Arts Council will present its annual "Howie Awards" during the Business and the Arts Luncheon at the Columbia Inn. Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Gallery, is the featured speaker.

The winners are L. Earl Armiger, president of Orchard Development Corp. of Ellicott City; Slim Harrison, an American folk musician and storyteller; and former school board member Deborah D. Kendig.

Mary Toth, executive director of the Howard County Arts Council, said all Howie Award winners for the past seven years have had a sense of community.

"They work in collaboration with other people. They have developed other people as they go along," Ms. Toth said.

Mr. Armiger and Ms. Kendig were influential in establishing a $1.2 million theater on the former site of Wilde Lake High School that will be owned by Howard County public schools and shared with the arts community. The theater is scheduled to open in fall 1996.

During today's luncheon, the Arts Council is expected to unveil the theater's official name: The James W. Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Mr. Armiger, 52, will receive the Howie for outstanding business supporter of the arts. He is credited with raising more than $60,000 from small businesses for the theater that Ms. Toth said will be a "national model [for cooperation] between private partners and a public entity."

"Basically, [the Arts Council was] 99 percent there. The final 1 percent needed was a commitment from the business community," Mr. Armiger said. From March to September, he made about 100 phone calls to find businesses that each would make a $2,000 donation.

Mr. Armiger said he was surprised by the Howie award and considers it recognition for the effort by the small-business community, instead of just for himself.

"That's significant: 32 companies have become partners with the Arts Council," he said.

The future theater at Wilde Lake also found a supporter in school board member Deborah D. Kendig, 55, who backed the project from the time it was proposed in April 1992.

Ms. Kendig, who left the school board in 1994 after serving for 11 years, was "very instrumental in developing a coalition for the theater at Wilde Lake," Ms. Toth said. "She was certainly key in helping us develop that case for the value of arts education."

Ms. Kendig also supported turning Rockland Elementary School, where she was once PTA president, into an arts center.

She credits her upbringing for her interest in the arts. "My parents had the intelligence to live in New Hope, Pa., so I grew up in an arts colony," she said.

One future performer at the new theater could be Slim Harrison, who has been a frequent guest at Howard County schools. He was named outstanding performer of the year.

For the past 15 years, the resident of Eylers Valley in the Catoctin Mountains has performed folk music, stories and dances as an artist-in-residence through the Maryland and Howard County arts councils.

Mr. Harrison, 41, praised the Arts Council for funding programs in Howard County schools. He also praised the philosophy he finds at work in the schools.

"When you walk into a Howard County school, there's a poster that says all students in Howard County must see themselves in the curriculum," he said. "In other words, when you're talking about history, you're not just talking about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, you're talking about George Washington Carver, Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez -- all the people who have influenced history.

"It's one of the things that led me to diversify my program," he said.

The eighth annual Business and the Arts Luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. today at the Columbia Inn, 10207 Wincopin Circle. Tickets are $35 and $300 for a table of 10. Information: 313-ARTS.

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