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Arts Council using Creative Touch to Attract Visitors
THE RECORD OBSERVER November 28, 2014 CENTREVILLE — After years of working in the White House under President Ronald Reagan and serving as senior advisor to former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the biggest issue that Belinda Cook is dealing with these days is how to bring more people into the Queen Anne’s County Centre for the Arts.
The lifelong county resident built a career in marketing, public relations and business development before taking over as executive director of the Queen Anne’s County Arts Council last December. Her focus, now more narrow than in years past, is just as important to her as anything she has taken on before, and she is doing whatever it takes to bring in more visitors.
Speaking to the Centreville Rotary Club during their weekly breakfast in mid-November, she stated her mission straightforwardly. “I want to hear what you think we should be doing,” she said, trying to generate interest amongst the group. “We’re trying to see what resonates with the community.”
The Arts Council is located on Commerce Street in Centreville, in what used to be a Methodist church that was built in 1829. The building has undergone a few renovations since then and ownership has changed hands several times since the 1960s. In 1992, it ultimately became home to the county’s arts council, which has existed since 1977.
Although it still looks like a church from the outside (much to Cook’s dismay), the inside is teeming with artwork and constant activities geared towards the arts community and local community at large. Professionally taught lessons in various forms of visual art are offered regularly for kids and adults, new exhibits are featured every 45 days, special events are hosted each month, and they even provide the space for Zumba and other fitness classes a few days of the week.
“My goal is to make this the creative hub of the county,” Cook said. “This is my main focus until I get it off the ground.”
Cook is still struggling to change the building’s facade on the outside — she recently hung up a few signs that she was asked to take down due to local regulations. But she is determined to get locals in the doors to embrace their inner artist. “If you’re not paying attention you don’t even know there’s an arts center there,” she said.
In addition to its exhibits and lessons, the council also hosts Paintbrush Parties once a month where area residents can enjoy wine and refreshments while painting. Since October, they have teamed up with the local elementary and middle schools to provide activities a few days of the week for students in afternoon-care. They also work with the schools to bring artistic events directly into the classrooms.
In the coming weeks, the council is hosting an artisan show called “Heck with the Malls,” encouraging people to shun traditional holiday shopping routines by buying the work of local artists to give as gifts.
At the moment, the council is working with the Kent Island Federation of Arts, an established local destination for the county’s artistic community, to cross-publicize the events that take place in Centreville. Cook admits it has been difficult to get people from other parts of the county to come to events at the Centre for the Arts, however, she believes her effort to expand and be open to different ideas will pay off in the end.
“People from Kent Island don’t really come here, but we’re trying to change that,” she said.Read More
Holiday Wreaths, Greenery for Sale at Centre for the Arts
THE RECORD OBSERVER November 20, 2014 CENTREVILLE — Volunteers gathered last week armed with a truck load of greens and fortified with a homemade lasagna dinner to create live wreaths, swags and table arrangements that will be offered for sale at the Centre for the Arts in Centreville beginning Nov. 29. “We are always working to find ways to welcome the community to the Centre; so we put the word out for some creative elves who wanted to come have some fun and volunteer their time to make holiday wreaths to sell. We couldn’t have done it without them and are thrilled with the results,” said Executive Director Belinda Cook.
“We are already getting calls from new folks who want to be on the list for next year. I’m confident these gorgeous wreaths will sell quickly and we can add to the quantity in years to come. Our thanks go out to Aspen Institute for allowing us to spend a morning enjoying their gardens and trimming some greens.”
Visit the Centre for the Arts, 206 S. Commerce, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, while supplies last. All proceeds benefit the Centre for the Arts.Read more
Elementary Schools Receive Arts Grants
THE RECORD OBSERVER November 7, 2014 CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council awarded Arts in Education Grants to Centreville, Church Hill and Kennard elementary schools to further arts awareness programs for students. These grants are used to support school arts programs that range from art related assemblies and performances to artists in residencies. Read More
Arts Council Awards Community Arts Development Grants
THE RECORD OBSERVER November 12, 2014 CHESTER — The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council has awarded Community Arts Development grants to several local organizations to support their efforts to provide art experiences in the Mid-Shore region. Grants were awarded to the Mid-Shore Symphony, Queen Anne’s County Free Library, Queen Anne’s Chorale and the Chesapeake Community Band. The Arts Council has been making grant awards since 1984 that support art programming, performances, and operational expenses to community organizations. About half a million dollars has been awarded to date. Executive Director Belinda Cook said, “Providing financial support to community organizations for arts related activities broadens opportunities for meaningful experiences. These organizations are a vital link in establishing a vibrant arts community. I am thrilled the Arts Council can play an important supportive role.”
Community Arts Development Grants are awarded each year to local community organizations to support performances, art programs and operational expenses. Applications are reviewed and recommended by an independent grant panel that includes members of the Arts Council’s Board of Directors and members of the arts community. Programming, outreach, and artistic excellence are all considerations for determining awards. The grant program is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners.Read More