Maryland Arts Summit

Inaugural Maryland Arts Summit convenes at UMBC

On June 6–8, UMBC hosted the inaugural Maryland Arts Summit, co-organized the Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), AEMS: Arts Education in Maryland Schools, and the Fine Arts Office of the Maryland State Department of Education.

During the three-day event, five hundred artists, educators, advocates, and arts administrators from across the state convened in UMBC’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building, Fine Arts Building, and University Center for presentations, workshops, an artists’ bazaar, award programs, networking sessions, and performances.

“The Arts Summit represented the incredible diversity and creativity that exists in Maryland,” said Nicholas Cohen, the executive director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. “We are especially thankful to UMBC for opening its doors to us and sharing in our excitement as hosts for this inaugural event.”

First Lady of Maryland Yumi Hogan spoke of the value of the arts across the state.

Scott Casper, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, welcomed summit attendees, many of whom were first-time visitors to UMBC. “We were thrilled to welcome our statewide colleagues and partners in the arts and arts education,” he said. “UMBC and Maryland’s arts organizations share the belief that the arts belong to everyone, and every person has the potential for creative inspiration.”

Maryland Arts Summit
Attendees gathered for a breakout discussion in the Black Box Theatre.

The arts at UMBC were highlighted throughout the summit. Timothy Nohe, director of the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts, and Joe Rexing, director of design and construction and university architect, led a hard hat tour of the new Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, where public artwork by Volkan Alkanoglu will be installed in August. The group also visited Thomas Sayre’s Forum (2014) adjacent to the Performing Arts and Humanities Building. The installation of both artworks was funded through the Maryland Public Art Initiative, administered by Liesel Fenner, public art program director at MSAC, who co-presented the tour.

Brian Kauffman, associate professor of music, co-hosted a session on “Achieving a High Quality Inclusive and Equitable Arts Education for Youth.” Mary Dell’Erba ’14, dance, now senior project manager for the Arts Education Partnership, presented on “Policy Opportunities for Arts Education.”

Maryland Arts Summit
Dancers Donna Hardy and Charles Wilson with Dr. Phill’s Big Band represented the Arch Social Club, winner of a 2019 Maryland Traditions Heritage Award in the category of Place.

The Maryland Arts Summit also featured two long-standing award programs of the Maryland State Arts Council: the Maryland Traditions Heritage Awards and the Individual Artist Awards. Maryland Traditions—the oldest continually running state folklife program in the nation—identifies, documents, supports, and presents Maryland’s living cultural traditions. Additionally, the archives of the folklife program are housed in UMBC’s Special Collections. Folklife honorees for 2019 included Jay Armsworthy (St. Mary’s County), The Arch Social Club (Baltimore City), and Cultura Plenera (Howard County).

Maryland Arts Summit
Recipients of the 2019 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award.

Several UMBC faculty and alumni received Individual Artist Awards. They included Lisa Moren, professor of visual arts; Corrie Francis Parks, assistant professor of visual arts; Kevin Blackistone ’00, visual arts; Tom Boram M.F.A. ’16, IMDA; A. Moon ’99, visual arts; and Seth Sawyers ’99, history.

Organizers are already discussing plans for the 2020 summit, which will again take place at UMBC. “We can’t wait for next year!” said Ken Skrzesz, executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council. “The Maryland Arts Summit was an unprecedented coming together of Maryland creatives. It was a demonstration of the knowledge and generosity of the rich arts sector of our state.”

Maryland Arts Summit
Alysia Lee, coordinator of fine arts for the Maryland State Department of Education, greeted the audience at a plenary session.

Featured image: A two-day artist bazaar attracted a crowd in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building. All photography courtesy of Edwin Remsberg.