Music, arts festival to share in advertising grant

July event in Carroll 1 of 6 in Md. to receive funds for promotion

March 11, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

An advertising campaign scheduled for magazines and newspapers in the mid-Atlantic region could swell the audience for this summer's American Music and Arts Festival in Westminster.

The two-day festival, which brings together artists, musicians and students exploring the cultures of various ethnic traditions, is one of six events chosen by Maryland officials to share in a $200,000 grant for promotion. The money, from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, will pay for a series of advertisements in several regional markets, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Richmond, Va.

"This kind of advertising will help the festival immensely," said Sandy Oxx, director of the Carroll County Arts Council. "It could bring people making day trips from the big regional markets. Common Ground, the festival sponsor, has never had the funds to get into those markets."

Although the festival has attracted renowned performers, attendance has lagged, perhaps in part because organizers have lacked money for advertising, Oxx said.

"The festival puts every penny into getting the greatest talent and often brings in international talent," Oxx said. "Advertising is the only thing lacking. The new campaign has the potential to put them on the map."

Common Ground on the Hill, a 7-year-old program in residence at Western Maryland College that promotes diversity through music and the arts, makes the festival, set for July 7 and 8 at the Carroll County Farm Museum, the centerpiece of its two weeks of summer workshops. The 2001 festival stars acclaimed folk singer Pete Seeger and spotlights an eclectic range of music including blues, folk, bluegrass and gospel.

All 23 counties and Baltimore City competed for the advertising dollars aimed at promoting Maryland's arts and cultural events.

"Many counties submitted three possible events, but we put all our eggs in one basket," said Barbara Beverungen, Carroll's tourism director.

The festival's location at the Carroll County Farm Museum was probably a factor in the state's decision, Beverungen said.

"Many people are familiar with the farm museum, a beautiful property with all the infrastructure needed right there," she said. "The fact that it is gated will help organizers keep an accurate attendance count, which the state is interested in."

The Carroll event is in good company, she said. It will share advertising funds with Baltimore's Artscape, the Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown, the Frederick Festival of the Arts, the Columbia Festival of the Arts and the Chestertown Jazz Festival.

"This kind of publicity could bring hundreds more people here," Beverungen said. "Our festival has done all the right things, and the infusion of money into advertising will really help promote it."

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