THE NEW MARQUEE is perhaps the most visible and exciting sign of the transformation of the circa 1937 Carroll Theatre into Carroll Arts Center.
A less obvious, but equally important, step in this transformation is the recent hire of a visual arts coordinator for Carroll County Arts Council and its center.
Local artist and teacher Sue Williamson officially signs on as visual arts coordinator Friday, but she is acclimating herself to her job by meeting members of the local artists' guild, the arts council and arts coordinators throughout the region.
"It helps to see how other arts and educational centers attract artists, present their shows, do community outreach - even develop permanent collections," said Williamson, who teaches at McDaniel and Carroll Community colleges. "I'm getting a framework for our arts council's first critical steps in the new location."
Williamson will be in charge of managing gallery exhibitions, arts classes, and educational programs and art contests such as Art in the Park, the Lunch and Learn series and the Wine Festival Poster Design Competition.
She joins the council as it moves from 15 E. Main St. to the renovated site up the road. The council's new home, which cost nearly $1 million, is to include a 263-seat theater, classrooms and an art gallery.
Recently, an art-deco marquee was installed at the theater. Red, white and blue letters - and 1,500 watts of electricity - announce the arrival of Carroll Arts Center as a multipurpose facility that is scheduled to open in March. It's been nearly 30 years since a similar marquee has graced the front of the theater.
"It was the most uplifting thing that has happened all month," said Sandy Oxx, the arts council's executive director. "Just to see that visual. It's just big and bright and show biz."
Williamson is no stranger to big changes.
She has been an active member of Dorchester Arts Center and Talbot County Art Museums, and helped both organizations move from small facilities to larger arts centers.
"It's exciting to move into such a central, beautiful space," Williamson said. "One thing that impresses me about Westminster is that as other small towns die out, this town is vital. And this new location will improve the vitality of the town more."
Williamson teaches art appreciation at the community college and a humanities course for the MLA graduate program at McDaniel College. She also is a florist at Flower Box in Westminster. She said she is "the all-around person - from phone to design, to `art-ucating' the public with the window design."
"Susan's credentials, her professionalism, and her affiliation with both of the local colleges and the community are invaluable," Oxx said. "This is also exciting because it is the first time that we have been able to hire someone with a specific focus. Susan won't have to wear a million hats like field phone calls, sell tickets, keep the facility clean."
Williamson is excited about her job. "I'm honored to be a part of all the exciting changes for Carroll County Arts Council," Williamson said. "Of course, at times I'm as nervous as a tick, but I'm also thankful for a job that lets me tap into my love for art and educating the public about art."
The Shepherd's Staff, a faith-based, nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged families and people in Carroll County, is selling creative gift items for the holidays.
Dubbed "Products with a Mission," many of the items are made from secondhand clothing or recycled items such as buttons and ribbons. "Message in a Pillow" is a handcrafted 10-inch-square pillow with a pocket to hold a personalized message card, a compact disc, or other small item.
"These gifts are not only meaningful and creative, they are a way to give twice," said Kathy Brown, executive director for Shepherd's Staff. "Each purchase helps our initiative to create nontraditional jobs for people with employment barriers."
Westminster resident Debbie Schultze honors her mother, Barbara Sullivan, as her Living Treasure this week.
"My mother goes beyond being a mother. She is my friend, and my kids adore her," said Schultze. "Take today - I was substitute teaching at one school when my daughter's school called to say that she was sick. My mother stayed with my daughter, without a moment's notice. She is always there for us, through the good times and the bad."
Brighten the day of someone who has made a positive difference in your life.
Submit a name and specific reasons why someone has been your living treasure to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157, or call 410-848-4703.
Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.