The Howard County Arts Council will distribute a record $278,000 in grants this evening to local arts and performing organizations, select county public schools and some Baltimore arts groups.
The council's Artistic Review Panel -- made up of academics, artists and community leaders -- recommended the funding, which is an increase of $20,000 over last year's.
Pursuit of the grants is "very competitive and we're always disappointed that we can't give each of the arts organizations who apply each year more," said Coleen West, executive director of the arts council. It raises additional money through the Maryland State Arts Council.
Twenty-two Howard visual and performing arts organizations will receive a combined $156,654 for general operating use in the next year.
The Columbia Festival of the Arts, a 10-day summer event that attracts thousands of people from around the region to see world-renowned dance companies, musicians and other artists, will receive nearly $30,000.
Other community arts groups, including the Candlelight Concert Society, Kinetics Dance Center, the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society and Rep Stage, will receive significant amounts.
Nearly all of the grant recipients applied for more than they will be awarded, but each will walk away with something.
"We're always pleased to receive grants from the Howard County Arts Council," said Claude Ligon, director of development of the African Art Museum, which will receive $12,467. "Of course, every arts organization wants more funds, but the state of Maryland is very, very arts-friendly and Howard County is, too."
More than $100,000 will go to nine Baltimore arts and cultural groups for their next fiscal year.
The organizations, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Zoo and the Walters Art Gallery, will get the money "for providing significant services to Howard residents," West said.
Nearly $15,000 will go to 16 Howard County public schools to bring artists into their classrooms.
The grants of $1,000 or less will be matched dollar for dollar by each school's PTA board. The artists will teach students stained-glass making, quilting, song writing, sculpture, furniture-painting, play writing and poetry.
Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the county school system, said the grants allow the schools to enrich their arts curriculum.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for the schools to do what they wouldn't be able to do otherwise," Caplan said. The grants help "by bringing in some activities and artists that the children might not have been exposed to otherwise."
Six grants totaling $9,000 were awarded to nine performing arts groups to subsidize the renting of Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia.
Howard County Executive James N. Robey will present the grants at tonight's reception at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City. The ceremony will coincide with the opening of two exhibitions there, "Contemporary Sculpture: Functional or Not" and "The Weaver's Guild of Greater Baltimore Fall Show."
The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 5: 30 p.m. Reservations are requested. The Howard County Arts Council is at 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. Information or reservations: 410-313-2787.