Already one of the region's pre-eminent arts education facilities, Howard Community College will try to further raise its profile next month.
The arts department -- which includes members of the celebrated Rep Stage theater group, Aurora Dance Company, Howard Community College Jazz Ensemble and various artists, actors and musicians -- will open its doors to the public for an afternoon of workshops, performances, presentations and demonstrations by the Columbia college's arts and humanities faculty and staff.
Called "First Arts 2000," the free afternoon event will take place Jan. 22 and will showcase many of the classes, such as Chinese brush painting, ceramics, television acting, film history, virtual music and art, mask making and drawing.
"First Arts 2000" also will include a lavish benefit concert performance of "The Wizard of Oz: in Concert" and a classic cantata called "Carmina Burana: Selection in Concert." Singer and actress Rachel Spaght will perform a collage of music and theater called "I Rise."
Tickets to the Smith Theatre performance cost $100 and will support the college's arts programs. A wine and hors d'oeuvres reception will precede the program.
Valerie E. Costantini, arts and humanities division chairwoman and a professor of theater, says the college is committed to raising money for the department.
"We've always had wonderful support for the arts here at the college, but it's hard to recognize that the arts can't support themselves without help," Costantini says.
She says the workshops and concert will help "promote what we do at the college and to say thank you to the community for all the support they've given us over the years."
For many years, Harvard University has held a weekend of arts workshops and performances that is open to prospective students and their parents.
Borrowed Harvard idea
Herschel Langenthal, treasurer of HCC's Educational Foundation Inc. (and a Harvard alumnus), decided to borrow the idea and persuaded Costantini and Ron Roberson, vice president of academic affairs, to initiate the idea -- albeit on a slightly smaller scale.
"I thought it would be a wonderful idea to show all the things the community college does," Langenthal says.
The arts program is "one of the better kept secrets in the area and it's one of the better arts facilities in the area," he says. "It's a great opportunity to show prospective students what was available at their local community college."
The entire day "should be a very exciting then and we're really looking forward to it," says Langenthal, who is vice chairman of Columbia Bank.
Plans to expand the arts department are in the works, says Mary Ellen Duncan, president of the college.
"The art department -- and this includes the visual and performing arts -- has certainly grown over the years and is in need of larger space," Duncan says.
She says she is looking at the cost of a new building, which would probably be close to the arts wing.
"First Arts 2000" is likely to be the first in a series of annual arts showcases and performances.
"The Wizard of Oz: in Concert" will celebrate the 100th anniversary of L. Frank Baum's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," which was published in 1900.
The songs performed in the concert will be the familiar music from the MGM movie starring Judy Garland.
Robey a guest performer
A guest performer that night will be Howard County Executive James N. Robey, who will play the mayor of Munchkinland.
The 75-piece Columbia Concert Band and the Howard Community College Singers will provide music for the evening.
"Carmina Burana" ("Songs of Beuren" in Latin) is based on verses from a collection of 13th-century poems discovered in the early 19th century in the abbey of Benediktbeuren. Carl Orff wrote the cantata.
"First Arts 2000" will be presented Jan. 22 at Howard Community College. Information and concert tickets: 410-772-4452.