Community college wants a cultural arts role

Position seen stronger with opening of center

April 07, 1999|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Carroll Community College wants to be more than a place to learn computer skills or master a second language. It wants to be a local cultural center.

The college is preparing to break ground on a new fine- and performing-arts center that officials hope will strengthen its position as a cultural arts magnet.

The college "should be not just for academics, but here for the community," said Diana Scott, a community college spokeswoman. "It's called a community college, and what are ways of becoming part of the community? Art productions and drama draw the community in."

The building goes by the name Classroom Building No. 3, but it could be named after a generous donor, should one come forward, college officials said. The building will house a 425-seat theater, music studios, an art gallery and various classrooms.

Groundbreaking for the $12.8 million center is expected to begin in a year, with completion set for January 2002, said Alan Schuman, vice president of administration. State and county funds are expected to cover the capital costs, he said.

"If we raise additional dollars, we will use that to outfit the theater in a greater manner than we would be able to do with governmental funding," Schuman said.

The college has received a $250,000 anonymous contribution for the theater.

"The community college is a perfect venue for gathering the community," said Maggie Ball, director of the art department. "We have this beautiful location geographically, it's a lovely spot, and people are familiar with the area and know the college pretty well."

Supporting arts has been on the college's agenda for years. When it became independent from Catonsville Community College in 1993, the college's statement included a goal of becoming an area cultural center. The arts center will hardly be its first step.

The Rotary Amphitheater, which opened last April on the campus and is managed by the county, holds community events.

The Carroll County Art Council's Starry Night will be held there June 5. It will feature 15 acts, including an African percussion ensemble, dancing by the Carroll County Cloggers and the Carroll Players drama group.

The college also holds a book fair each November that features discounted books, a writing contest and writing workshops for children and adults.

A new art exhibit is available nearly every month during the school year, Scott said. An exhibit featuring Maryland female artists ended yesterday, and a student exhibit will begin Sunday.

The exhibits are held in the Great Hall or the adjoining Langdon Family Art Gallery, but the gallery space in the new arts center will provide more room to display the college's collection.

Musical events, including recitals by students and faculty, are held regularly. Concerts by the Carroll Community Chorus, made up of students and community members, are held in the Great Hall and will take advantage of the new theater.

"What we hope to do is provide a central, state-of-the-art performing area that the community can use, and that the college can use and have available for outside groups to bring in entertainers of all types," Schuman said.

Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Carroll County Art Council, said anything that promotes arts in the county is welcome.

"I think [the theater] is a wonderful addition to the county," she said. "There aren't enough performing spaces. That is probably the best part of the building."

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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