Arts council gets $75,000 from NEA to expand schools project


The Howard County Arts Council has landed a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to expand its artist-in-residence program for professional performing and visual artists who'll develop projects in county schools and community sites.

The money, which will be spread over three years, will be divided into smaller grants and redistributed by the arts council to new participants in its 6-year-old artists-in-education program, said the group's president, Michael Galeone.

"The artists are either educators themselves or professionals," said Theresa Colvin, spokeswoman for the arts council. "They all have a myriad of backgrounds in terms of artistic expression."

Last year, artists were placed in 21 county schools from three to 21 days, Ms. Colvin said.

With the NEA grant money, two additional artists a year will be commissioned for at least two or three months, possibly beginning next spring, Ms. Colvin said. The money will be used for the artists' salary, supplies and equipment.

The arts council is one of a dozen community-based arts organizations around the country to received grants. Forty-two groups applied for the local incentive grant money, which was awarded in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $300,000.

Diane Mataraza, director of the NEA's local arts agencies program, said the Howard arts organization was successful in its bid because it had a broad base of community support.

"The residency program demonstrates to us that they are not only dealing with the arts in school, but arts in the community," she said. "The arts council received 50 percent of its request, which is strong when considering the competition for the dollars."

Arts council officials hope a new performing arts center at the reconstructed Wilde Lake High School will provide the setting for many of the programs produced by the artists.

The council has entered into a partnership with local and state government, private industry and non-profit groups to finance the $1.2 million, 750-seat performing arts center that is scheduled for completion along with the new high school building in fall 1996. State and local government will each pay $400,000 for the project and the arts council has agreed to raise the remainder through private and corporate donations.

Ms. Mataraza said the performing arts theater at Wilde Lake High School would create a "window of opportunity" because there is no other performing arts facility between Washington and Baltimore.

"The arts council has truly assessed the needs of the community, and the NEA is very impressed and is convinced they will be able to do it," she said.

Other grant recipients included arts groups in cities in South Dakota, Missouri, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, New York and Ohio.

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