Howard County Center for the Arts -- 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. Information: 410-313-2787, www.hocoarts.org. Howard County Center for the Arts is home to 14 visual artists in residence, a 114-seat black-box theater, meeting space for affiliated arts organizations and space for resident art groups in the 30,000-square-foot facility.
HCCA offers year-round classes in the visual, performing and literary arts for all ages.
It is home to the Columbia Orchestra and provides weekly rehearsal space for the Howard County Regional Youth Orchestra.
HCCA is home of the Fabulous 50+ Players, a musical theater program open to anyone 50 or older that puts on at least six productions a year.
It also houses the No Boundaries Musical Theatre Company, a partnership between the Howard County Arts Council and Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks. The organization, for young adults with disabilities, rehearses in the theater and holds a performance in the spring.
The center showcases about 500 artists each year in its galleries in six to 12 exhibits of local, regional, national and sometimes international artists. Shows range from single-artist exhibits to partnerships with the Howard County Department of Education, which juries a show of student work from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) -- ILB 239, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Information: 410-772-4568, www.hocopolitso.org. For more than 30 years, the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society has offered the community the opportunity to hear the works of distinguished poets and writers.
With its snappy acronym - HoCoPoLitSo - and commitment to poetry and prose, the nonprofit arts organization presents readings and other literary events to the public, bringing in three to four writers and poets each year.
Founded in 1974, HoCoPoLitSo has been called "a model for community literature programs" by the National Endowment for the Arts and is frequently noted for excellence by the Maryland State Arts Council.
Artists who have visited include Isaac Bashevis Singer, Allen Ginsberg, Saul Bellow, Stanley Kunitz, Seamus Heaney, Michael Dirda, Lucille Clifton, Edna O'Brien, Edward Albee, Taylor Branch, Germaine Bree, Frank Conroy, Garrison Keillor, W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand, Swedish poet Thomas Transtromer and Iranian poet and author Reza Baraheni.
HoCoPoLitSo also sponsors a poet-in-residence at 11 Howard County public schools and produces The Writing Life, a local cable television series from Howard Community College's HCCTV.
The Columbia Foundation -- 10227 Wincopin Circle, Suite G15, Columbia. Information: 410-730-7840, or www.columbia foundation.org.
Founded in 1969 by James W. Rouse, the Columbia Foundation is a community organization that supports new and existing services and programs, including human services, educational programs, community affairs and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.
Grants are awarded in two cycles. In the fall, operating grants are allocated for such expenses as rent and telephone service. Project funding is set in the spring.
Howard County Arts Council -- 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. Information: 410-313-2787; or www.hocoarts.org.
The council was established in 1981 by grass-roots activists and local artists to foster the arts and arts organizations.
The council was designated as the fiscal agent for county government funds for the arts in 1984. It manages four grant programs and in fiscal year 2006, it gave more than $320,000 in matching grants to 35 arts and cultural organizations.
The deadline to receive funding in 2007 for the community arts development grant program is May 3, and the deadline for the Artists-in-Education program, which gives money to local PTAs to bring artists to schools, is June 7.
Artists' Gallery -- 10227 Wincopin Circle, Columbia. Information: 410-740-8249.
Artists' Gallery is a cooperative that showcases the work of its members. Instead of open monthly shows, artists are chosen by a jury and become members. They are allowed to bring in one to two pieces each month that are guaranteed to be displayed. Typically, one or two members are featured each month, with works from the other members also on display. Sometimes an invited guest is featured.
The show changes every month with a reception to launch the exhibit. Because the members run the gallery, they take turns staffing the facility. Most member artists live in Columbia, but they come from as far away as Anne Arundel County. Their works include paintings, photographs, fire-brushed and embossed copper, watercolors, acrylics, oils and pastels, stained glass and painted furniture.
Slayton House Gallery -- Wilde Lake Village Green, Columbia. Information: 410-730-3987.
Slayton House has been showing art since before 1979. Gallery has been operating since at least 1979, in coordination with the Howard County Center for the Arts and under the direction of the Wilde Lake Village Board.
The gallery, reopened in March 2004 after renovation, has improved lighting and hanging systems to display two-dimensional art and sculpture. It usually features two artists at a time with 11 shows each year.
Columbia Art Center -- 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia. Information: 410-730-0075.
Columbia's community art center offers art classes, exhibits, lectures, gallery sales, equipment and space rental.
Classes for beginners through advanced artists are available for students as young as 6, and are offered in subjects that include ceramics, painting and drawing, photography, stained glass, tai chi and jewelry design.
The 30-year-old center also offers workshops and a summer arts camp for first through eighth grades.
The center also has two galleries, the Main Gallery and Window Gallery, which exhibit the works of local, regional and national artists.
The Howard County Art Guild -- Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. Information: 410-730-6257.
The Howard County Art Guild, founded in 1993, is an organization of artists who meet every other month at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City. It conducts workshops to promote the works of local visual artists.
To help aspiring artists get a taste of what it is like to be professional, the guild sponsors three annual judged shows.
The guild presents shows at Barnes & Noble in the Long Gate shopping center in Ellicott City. Guild meetings are held at the Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Monday of odd-numbered months. Meetings feature artists or speakers who discuss a topic of relevance to the art world.
Columbia Festival of the Arts -- 5575 Sterrett Place, suite 280, Columbia. Information: 410-715-3044, or www.columbiafestival.com.
Founded in 1988 as a local grass-roots effort, the Columbia Festival of the Arts showcases national and international performers for an average of 35,000 festival-goers.
In 2006, the festival will run from June 9 through June 24 at several indoor and outdoor venues in Columbia.
The festival blends headliners, rising stars and cutting-edge performers in a variety of theatrical programs and master classes. Recent performers have included Bobby McFerrin, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Washington Ballet, Israel's Haifa Festival Orchestra, Mikhael Baryshnikov, the Neville Brothers and Second City.
Sunset Serenades -- sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks. Information: 410-313-4700 or www.co.ho.md.us. Weekly concerts are offered at 7 p.m. Wednesdays beginning in mid-June at Centennial Park South in Ellicott City.
Acts have included swing, country, jazz, blues, reggae and classical music, plus comedy and children's performances.
Concerts typically draw 800 to 1,000 people a week. Audiences bring picnic dinners and lawn chairs or blankets to watch the acts on a hillside overlooking Centennial Lake.
Lakefront Summer Festival -- Columbia Town Center Lakefront. Information and inclement weather cancellation: 877-713-9674.
Every year, from late June through early September, the Columbia Association sponsors free entertainment nightly at the Town Center lakefront.
Audiences gather on the grassy slope for jazz, rock 'n' roll, bluegrass, country, rhythm and blues, honky-tonk and Western swing music, often preceded by free dance instruction and line dancing. Other nights feature outdoor movies, including recent releases, classic films and children's fare.
Hua Sha Chinese Dance Center -- P.O. Box 6154, Columbia. Information: 410-381-0270 or www. huashadance.org.
Based in Columbia, the center includes a dance school and a performing arts troupe focusing on classical and folk dance.
Hua Sha, which means Chinese, was founded in 1996 by Xiao Fang Xu, the center's director and choreographer, who has danced for more than 40 years.
Born in Shanghai, Xu trained at the Shanghai Dance School in China, specializing in ballet, Chinese classical and folk dance. She danced in 15 countries for the Arts Delegation of China and was one of the dancers who welcomed President Richard M. Nixon during his first state visit to China.
The touring company has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Walters Art Museum and Artscape in Baltimore, the Dance Festival sponsored by the Maryland Council for the Arts, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, the Columbia Festival of the Arts and at Asian Pacific festivals.
Howard County Ballet -- 3240 Corporate Court, Suite E, Ellicott City. Information: 410-465-8233, or www.howard countyballet.org.
The Howard County Ballet was established in 1995, and is a nonprofit regional ballet organization that offers performing and master class opportunities for youth and adult dancers. Performances include guest artists and students. The company conducts open auditions for dancers in the Baltimore-Washington area. Based at Aesthetics dance studio, the ballet performs one winter and one spring production each year, plus a Halloween concert in the fall. The Nutcracker is usually presented shortly before Christmas at the Jim Rouse Theatre.
Dance Dimension -- Slayton House, Wilde Lake Village Green, Columbia. Information: 301-490-0252. Dance Dimension is the resident dance company of Slayton House in Columbia.
Founded by award-winning dance educator Marilyn Byers in 1982, the school is an outgrowth of the Howard County Gifted and Talented Dance Program.
Dance Dimension's school of modern dance includes a mini-company that teaches elementary school-age children the fundamentals in dance technique, an apprentice group for middle school pupils and a performance company geared for high school and college students.
Ballet with Cindee Velle -- Long Reach Community Association, Long Reach Village Center, Columbia. Information: 410-465-7674, www.cindeevelle ballet.com.
Lessons, competitions and performances are all on the schedule at Ballet with Cindee Velle. Lessons are offered in ballet, tap and jazz, for age 3 to adult.
Performance opportunities include student concerts, competition teams and the Columbia Chamber Ballet, which is the school's resident company.
The company performs locally and is known for its annual Nutcracker performances.
Toby's Dinner Theatre -- 5900 Symphony Woods Road, Columbia. Information: 410-730-8311, 800- 88TOBYS, or www.tobysdinnertheatre.com.
For more than three decades, Toby Orenstein has combined her theatrical and education training to create a string of theatrical organizations in Columbia that entertain as well as educate. She is the founder of Toby's Dinner Theatre, the nonprofit Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, the Young Columbians and the Labels Project.
Every year since Toby's has been eligible, the theater has been nominated for the Helen Hayes Awards based in Washington - amassing 47 nominations. Recently, Orenstein was inducted into the Howard County Women's Hall of Fame and honored as one of 16 women who changed the face of theater in the Baltimore area. The dinner theater's regular customer base is from Maryland, Washington, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Rep Stage Howard Community College -- 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Information: 410-772-4900 or www.howardcc.edu/repstage.
Rep Stage is an award-winning professional theater company in residence at Howard Community College, performing familiar and obscure works. The company has been nominated 37 times for Helen Hayes Awards, and has won seven times.
The company was founded in 1993 by Valerie Lash, who recently became founding director, handing over the role of artistic director and producer to Michael Stebbins.
In the fall, the college's new Visual and Performing Arts Instructional Building, which will include a designated performing arts space, will open. The state-of-the-art building will connect to the Smith Theatre, which Rep Stage also uses.
Rep Stage performances are funded in part through grants from the Columbia Foundation, the Howard County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council and individual and corporate donations.
Howard County Summer Theatre -- Information: Marla Blasko, president: 410-461-3830.
Howard County Summer Theatre, the second-oldest community theater in the county, is as much renowned for its family atmosphere as for the splashy musical it produces each summer at a high school.
HCST was founded in 1975 when three women - Elise Best, Jean Grennan and Hazel Philbrick - approached Mo Dutterer, then a music and drama teacher at Dunloggin Middle School in Ellicott City, about starting a musical theater group so their three teens would have something to do during the summer.
They recruited Dutterer to direct, sent out audition notices and presented Guys and Dolls. Since then, HCST has evolved into a theatrical company made up of participants with a wide range of ages and talents.
Each summer, people from Howard, Carroll and Baltimore counties join the production team onstage and behind the scenes.
Drama Learning Center -- 9130 Red Branch Road, Columbia. Information: 410-997-9352, www.dramalearningctr.com.
Drama Learning Center offers classes and workshops in all facets of the performing arts. Students can perform at the center's fully equipped theater, which has seating for 100.
All ages and abilities are welcome, with performances including students as young as 3.
The center has also entered into a partnership with local director Mo Dutterer to form Shadow Block Productions, and adult acting company now entering its second season.
African Art Museum of Maryand -- 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia. Information: 410-730-7106 or www.africanartmuseum.org.
Founded 25 years ago by Doris Ligon, the museum, housed in the Historic Oakland building, features masks, sculptures, textiles, jewelry and musical instruments from Africa. A permanent collection of goldweights - tiny sculpted figures used on a scale to measure gold - is a highlight of the museum.
The organization offers lectures, films, tours to Africa, workshops and community outreach programs. It also sponsors the annual Baltimore-Washington Jazzfest.
Howard County Center of African-American Culture -- 5434 Vantage Point Road, Columbia. Information: 410-715-1921.
With nearly 300 artifacts, the 26,000-square-foot Howard County Center of African-American Culture includes a museum exhibition of African-American history in Howard County, a cultural center and a library highlighting the contributions of African-Americans in Maryland and elsewhere.
The museum is divided into several rooms to resemble an African-American home in Howard County from the 1850s to 1920s.
The cultural center includes a collectibles room, a music room, sports and military room and gift shop. The collectibles room includes memorabilia of African-Americans; African-American inventions and a stamp collection showcasing African-Americans; and an art gallery with about 50 prints and paintings. A music room features posters, instruments and recordings of spirituals and jazz.
In 2003, the center moved more than 5,000 books to Howard Community College's library building at 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. The children's library and the adult and children's rare book collections remain at the center.
The center also founded the Howard County African-American Artist Alliance, which meets at the center quarterly. Members display their art in a free annual exhibit in June at Howard Community College.
The center conducts children's programs twice a year.
Columbia Pro Cantare -- 5404 Iron Pen Place, Columbia. Information: 410-730-8549, or www.procantare.org.
Columbia Pro Cantare, Columbia's volunteer chorus, was established in 1977 by artistic director Frances Motyca Dawson to sing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at its Howard County performances and to produce concerts of its own.
Since then, Pro Cantare has performed vocal and choral compositions from the 10th to the 21st centuries. It has included Czech, Hungarian and Polish music, and continues to perform music of different ethnic origins.
Concerts range from oratorio and opera to show tunes and spirituals. The chorus has performed in venues ranging from the opening of the Inner Harbor in 1980 to the 80th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia at the National Cathedral in Washington - at the request of the Czech Embassy.
Pro Cantare also produced the musical celebration of Columbia's 20th anniversary, Hail Columbia, which featured Columbia founder James W. Rouse narrating Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Pro Cantare has 135 choral members, from teens through seniors, from Howard and nearby counties, as well as Baltimore City.
In 1995, the company added the Columbia Pro Cantare Chamber Singers, a smaller ensemble of about 28 vocalists who sing a cappella and smaller scale works.
Tickets need to be ordered by mail from Deborah Towner, 12339 Pleasant View Drive, Fulton 20759, or bought from a chorus member.
Sundays at Three Chamber Music Series -- Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia. Information: 410-730-8206, or www.sundaysatthree.org.
Sundays at Three originated in 1996 as an offshoot of the defunct chamber group Music in Common.
The organization presents local professional musicians - usually members of local orchestras - performing chamber music.
Concerts are presented each year, from September through May, at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Performances are followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the performers. Children under 18 are admitted free with a paying adult.
Candlelight Concert Society -- 8726 Town and Country Blvd., Suite 102, Ellicott City. Information: 410-480-9950, or www.candlelightconcerts.org.
Candlelight Concert Society offers a mix of programs for classical music enthusiasts and a Performing Arts Series for Children.
The society presents a series of nine chamber music concerts by professional ensembles. The organization expanded its activities in 1997 and implemented a Community Outreach Concert Program of "mini-concerts" brought to Howard County schools, hospitals, nursing facilities and assisted-living residences.
Visiting artists also perform.
The Columbia Orchestra -- 8510 High Ridge Road, Columbia. .Information: (410) 465-8777 or www.columbiaorchestra.org.
The Columbia Orchestra is a volunteer community group formed in 1977 by about 20 string players as the Columbia Chamber Orchestra. In its second year, the group enlisted Yong Ku Ahn, a Peabody Conservatory violin professor who lived in Columbia, to direct. He led the ensemble for 10 years, until his retirement in 1988.
After Ahn retired, the board decided to expand to a full-size orchestra with wind and brass players.
Now led by Jason Love, the orchestra has close to 100 musicians and performs with other area groups in addition to offering a subscription concert series.
The group also offers Young People's Concerts and welcomes guest artists.
Columbia Concert Band -- P.O. Box 2713, Columbia. Information: www.columbiaband.org.
Founded in 1983, the 85-member nonprofit community concert band includes engineers, professors, students, homemakers and former military band musicians ranging in age from high school students to seniors in their 80s.
In 1989, the group formed the Columbia Jazz Band, which has about 35 members. The two groups perform nearly 25 free concerts a year, mostly in Howard County.
Under the direction of Michael Blackman, the concert band's repertoire includes traditional concert pieces and works by modern composers.
The band also plays show-tune medleys for its summer performances and sponsors a Concert for Young People in the fall.
Auditions are not required. The band rehearses Monday nights at River Hill High School. HCC students who play in the band earn college credit.
Marvelous Movies and More -- Slayton House Theatre, Wilde Lake Village. Information: 410-730-3987.
Marvelous Movies and More is a classic-movie series at Slayton House in Columbia. It offers an array of classic movies from the 1920s through the 1950s, including comedies, dramas, Westerns, musicals, foreign films and silent movies. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays at least once a month. Each film is followed by a 30-minute audience discussion led by guest presenters. There is also a dessert buffet.
The series was founded by Bernice Kish, Wilde Lake Village manager, and David Pierce, who was moderator for the discussions for nine years. The current facilitator is Mike Giuliano.
Each season runs from September through June. Admission is $7 per film, and $6 for senior citizens and students.