Arts council workshop pictures, plans the future

January 30, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

The board of directors of the Carroll County Arts Council had plenty of ideas to ponder at a weekend retreat organized to chart the future of the arts in the county.

About 75 friends of the arts shared their visions at a preretreat forum Friday at Western Maryland College. Their comments provided the basis for several workshops, held at New Windsor Conference Center Saturday.

"We will take what we learn from you and see how we can make your hopes for the future a reality," said Emily Murray, council president.

Ira Zepp, planning and development chairman for the Arts Council, welcomed the forum audience "to this grand opportunity to celebrate the artists in ourselves."

"Art is not an adjunct to our lives, but a thread woven into the fabric of life," he said.

Mr. Zepp encouraged the group to give the board directives to define the next decade. "You are in on the ground floor of discussions on space for the arts and art education," he said. "We can't do this alone."

Barbara Funk, arts division manager of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, asked the council "to build strong relationships with government and business" as it planned its future. Ms. Funk and Al Maitland, executive director of the Prince George's County Arts Council, served as facilitators for the forum and retreat.

"You are not here for yourselves, but to come up with a community plan," Mr. Maitland said. "The Arts Council can be the glue that makes facilities happen."

Much of the discussion centered on creating a place to serve the artistic needs of a growing community. The council, which leases gallery and office space at 15 E. Main St. in Westminster, needs more room.

Joseph Shields, president of Carroll Community College, detailed the college's plan for an amphitheater and fine arts center, which it could share with the council.

"Hopefully, we can find a way to work together and build as fine an arts facility as any in the state," said Dr. Shields, who offered to "work in partnership with the council."

Rosemary Straub, CCC development director, said the council could help plan the facility, which is still in preliminary stages.

Westminster Councilwoman Rebecca Orenstein suggested renovating an existing city building into a performing arts center.

"Consider a space in Westminster," Ms. Orenstein said. "You have a council and mayor with both generosity and caring for the arts."

Many participants lamented the current lack of space for the performing arts.

"There is a lot of talent here in the community," said Barbara Parry, an advocate for community musicians. "I see a place where people can perform, where there is a recording and video studio."

Tammy Brasseaux, a collage artist and sculptor, envisions a learning atmosphere, a studio where she could draw support and work with other artists and "have access to the tools I need to pursue my art."

Public studio space would also give the community the opportunity to see artists at work. "People need to see art happening and be able to take it home with them," said Peg Silloway, a stained glass artist.

Art must also play a role in education, said Phil Grout. "There has to be a change within the school system," he said. "Creativity must be stimulated and encouraged."

A center might also draw renowned artists to the county and its schools, said Kristin Lagrutta.

Richard Murray questioned the placement of the Arts Council in the county Recreation and Parks Department, where it must compete with athletic and other community programs for

government funding.

"Are the arts a minor tail that doesn't even wag the dog?" he asked.

David Booth, a musician and membership chairman for the council, suggested an alignment with the Office of Tourism, which would allow the arts to become a draw for the county.

The audience indulged in much "dreaming out loud" and did well on establishing goals, Mr. Maitland said. The council must now transform those ideas into "measurable objectives," he said.

"We will process and organize your comments and set action plans into motion," Ms. Funk said. "Every arts facility, built throughout the country, usually comes through grass-roots efforts like yours."

Arts give a sense of community, said Mr. Zepp, who would like to see each county neighborhood become a "little Athens."

"This county has untapped resources," Mr. Zepp said. "We may not be the Athens of Pericles or the Florence of the Renaissance, but we can start the journey."

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