“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic... music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”
–William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education
Exposure to the arts is transformative and inspiring. Yet, we are aware that many people in our community do not have the resources necessary to access the arts. Through a variety of programs, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts ensures the arts are made accessible for the residents of our greater Annapolis community.
ArtReach (part of MHCA’s Outreach program) offers ongoing initiatives to make the arts accessible to all students, particularly those who are at-risk and underserved students in our community. ArtReach introduces underserved students to new arts concepts and experiences and provides meaningful hands-on opportunities to increase self-expression and creativity in a collaborative setting. What began in 2008 with a few after-school workshops in collaboration with the Annapolis Gardens Boys and Girls Clubs, has grown into many year-round programs serving over 1,000 students each year. “This is a vital and growing program that allows kids to connect with their peers, uncover talents and develop important life skills,” says Natalie Spehar, MHCA’s Outreach Coordinator. “We are so thankful to the individual donors and foundations that make all these programs possible.” A sampling of recent activities are below.
MHCA offers ongoing ArtReach activities throughout the year through long-term collaborations with local branches of the Boys and Girls Clubs, We Care and Friends, Seeds for Success and Centro de Ayuda. Often based upon themes related to current gallery exhibitions, these hands-on workshops introduce students to works of art and the empowering stories of the artists that created the work. Artists share new skills with students followed by time in the classroom for students to create a version of the artwork that demonstrates their own feelings and ideas related to the themes. “These activities offer elementary and middle school students with wonderful opportunities to connect with artists, hear about their careers and artistic processes and then express themselves through art,” says Spehar.
Jovenes Artistas (Young Artists)
This after-school program which began its 5th year in Fall 2016 is for Middle and High School students facing adversity. Providing a safe environment for self-expression, confidence building and motivation to stay in school, Jovenes Artistas combines mentoring, arts experience and emotional support to allow students to express their personal stories in creative ways. The program meets three times a week at Maryland Hall and serves 25-30 students each academic year. At the end of each 6-week arts session, students present a gallery exhibit of their artwork or perform music recitals. “We are excited that two graduating members of the program are now assisting younger students,” says Spehar, “leading a mural painting project and abstract art class after school for new middle school participants. Seeing former students become leaders has been an inspiring process.”
ArtReach for the Department of Juvenile Justice Services
This new Maryland Hall program kicked off in Fall 2016 for High School youth on probation, focusing on themes of healthy self-expression and productive interaction with peers. Nominated by officials from the Department of Juvenile Services, these youth meet once-a-week for workshops led by guest artists and music and art therapists. Youth are introduced to a different visual or musical art each week and assume creative and administrative responsibilities to create an overall, interactive arts exhibition that is shared with the public at the finale of the session. This mentorship program serves 16 youth per session with activities taking place Maryland Hall and the Chesapeake Center for Youth Development in Brooklyn Park.
Annapolis Young Artists Program
AYAP is the newest addition to MHCA’s ArtReach umbrella, enabling young musicians to develop high-level performance technique as well as entrepreneurial and leadership skills. Student musicians attend monthly workshops led by faculty members and guest artists that have excelled as performers as well as entrepreneurs. Using music as a tool to promote community, AYAP students work with faculty to create free concert experiences for the Annapolis community, often taking place in assisted living centers or other community centers. In addition to performing, AYAP students volunteer as ushers at Maryland Hall performances and provide music instruction on a peer-to-peer basis to beginning instrumentalists through the music activities portion of Jóvenes Artistas. Approximately 25 students are active AYAP members each semester.
Each academic year, Maryland Hall provides scholarships to students that have a strong interest in the arts but lack the financial resources to take classes. MHCA partners with area organizations including Centro de Ayuda, Stanton Center and Eastport Girls Club to assist in identifying prospective scholarship recipients. Each year, approximately 100 students receive scholarships toward class studies at MHCA. Scholarship opportunities are funded by the generosity of local individuals, corporations and foundations. Please click here for more information about scholarships at Maryland Hall. Donations to the MHCA Scholarship Fund can be made by clicking here.
Free Events, Performances and Activities
With keeping the arts accessible as a vital part of our mission, Maryland Hall sponsors a variety of programs each year that are free and open to the public. Annual events include our ArtFest Open House, art gallery talks, music lectures, exhibitions and tours, drawing thousands of community visitors. Our partnership with World Artists Experiences brings thousands of local residents to Maryland Hall for free performances by performing artists from around the world. Through our Outreach Program, we also ensure performances for school children are accessible by underwriting their class trips to Maryland Hall to see school show performances.
Community Partnerships and Local Collaborators
MHCA collaborates with numerous arts-related organizations to ensure their missions are supported. These groups include: The Annapolis Watercolor Club, Digital Photography Club, Creating Communities, VisionWorkshops, Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra, Chesapeake Woodturners, Annapolis Young Artists Program and Bates Middle School (including the Performing and Visual Arts Magnet School). In addition to encouraging collaborative projects among this network of arts supporters, Maryland Hall often donates space and technical support to local organizations for their workshops and events.