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Big bash may get smaller for Annapolis

The Baltimore Sun

The programming and promotion for Annapolis' big bash to celebrate 300 years of democracy might have to be scaled back after the state didn't fund a half-million-dollar request, city officials said.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, a Democrat, blamed the three state delegates and senator who represent the city in District 30, including House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

"It's surprising to me that there was so little interest from our delegation in our own capital city," Moyer said. "But we are moving forward to continue to do our fundraising. It's a capital city program; it's not a little city fair. It's a major effort, and we hope that we can find money for this major event."

Del. Virginia P. Clagett, a four-term Democrat, said the city did not exert much of a lobbying effort. She said that the request never crossed her desk and no city officials discussed it with her.

"You would think they would have called me and brought it to my attention," Clagett said.

Chuck W. Weikel, executive director of the Annapolis Charter 300 Committee, said he understood the lack of funding given the state's fiscal constraints. "It's always better to have more money than less, but it was a very tight budget year," he said.

The bulk of the money the city requested in the state budget was earmarked for marketing and promoting the yearlong party, which kicks off in January, and will cost about $3.3 million.

About $1.3 million in funding is still needed, according to a city official.

"This is a huge hole and a very painful fiscal reality to have to deal with, but we are regrouping," said Karen Engelke, the city's special projects coordinator.

Nevertheless, Busch said state agencies are likely to fund much of the festivities.

"The fact of the matter is that the state is going to step up to celebrate Charter 300 with state agencies," Busch said. "I'm sure it's going to be a fine celebration."

The steering committee is working with the state's departments of tourism and economic development and is lining up private partnerships and fundraisers for events. The events mark the 300th anniversary of the city's charter, granted by England's Queen Anne on Nov. 22, 1708.

Among the efforts is the restoration of the Southgate Fountain at Church Circle. The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra will perform the first of four Annapolis-inspired works commissioned in an international competition for young composers. Throughout the commemorative year, a series of murals depicting Annapolis life will be on display.



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