When I was dancing as an undergraduate, I learned the term “kinesphere.” It was a fascinating concept to me - that each of us has a space we occupy, physically, and by extending ourselves we occupy more space and by minimizing ourselves we occupy less space. As my physical confidence grew through ongoing training, I noticed that I took up more space in the room. My strides were longer, my leaps went further, and my limbs seemed to lengthen away from my torso. 

I think about those activities of “kinesphere” a lot as I stand in a moment in history that calls for confidence. This moment demands that we extend ourselves, taking up more space in the world to act against racism, to embrace new environments shaped by COVID, and to believe that our efforts will be the difference between the world as we know it and the world as we envision it. 

The goal is to use your ideas to extend yourself, rather than allow self-doubt about new ideas to undermine your confidence. As Tom Kelley published in the Harvard Business Review, “To overcome this inertia, good ideas are not enough. You need to stop planning and just get started—and the best way to do that is to stop focusing on the huge overall task and find a small piece you can tackle right away.” I invite you to embrace your first small piece and take one action today.

Ken Skrzesz, Executive Director, Maryland State Arts Council
Mia Rollow. Shai, 2019
Stephen Towns. Special Child, 2016.
MSAC is pleased to announce that $266,000 has been awarded to 66 Maryland artists through the 2021 Independent Artist Awards (IAA). With this year’s awards focused on visual and media arts, 2021 awardees represent a wide range of artistic talents from all across the state, from painting, ceramics, and works on paper to digital media, film, and installation. Click here for the full list of winners.
In addition to the recognition, awardees receive grants to support their continued artistic growth. 53 artists will receive a regional grant of $2,000 to recognize promise, and 13 artists will receive an award of $10,000 to recognize notable artistic achievement. Two state awardees, Mia Rollow and Stephen Towns will receive an additional award of $15,000 to recognize outstanding artistic achievement.

Mia Rollow (Prince George’s County), State Award: Mia's work, which includes a wide range of sculptures, installations, videos, and performances, is described as both “collaborative and experimental.” Learn more about Mia and her work through her MSAC Arts Directory Profile!
Stephen Towns (Baltimore City), State Award: Raised in Lincolnville, SC, Stephen is a mixed-media artist. Working primarily in oil, acrylic, and fiber, draws much of his visual inspiration from medieval altarpieces, impressionist paintings, and wax cloth prints. Learn more about Stephen and his work through his MSAC Arts Directory Profile!
The Public Art Across Maryland Artwork Commissions program contracts artists to create new and original artwork for state buildings and public spaces across Maryland. The program is pleased to announce the publication of Request for Qualifications for the following facilities:
  • Maryland District Court, Catonsville District Courthouse: $208,000 budget divided among three public locations throughout the Courthouse.
  • Maryland Department of Agriculture, Salisbury Animal Health Lab: $70,000 budget for a two or three dimensional public artwork. 
For more information on the projects click click here. The application deadline for both projects is 3:00pm Monday, June 7, 2021.

All professional artists or artist teams living in the United States may apply. “How to Apply” informational webinars will be held on May 7th and May 25th. Click here to register. 
WITH OUR HANDS, is an exciting initiative that is part of a current national exhibition, OBJECTS: USA 2020. OUSA 2020 surveys American handmade arts through a curated selection of 100 artists, including 50 of today's most impactful contemporary makers and 50 historical artists from the 1969 Objects: USA exhibition.

Similar to the original show, the aspiration of WITH OUR HANDS is to weave together the diverse community of object makers in America, deepening the dialogue around the handmade arts. Facilitated by the power of social media, this campaign seeks to unite creators across the country to claim their medium, share their practice and find community.

Glassblowers, ceramicists, wood carvers, weavers, metalworkers, and those exploring new materials, are welcome to submit 15-second videos of their hands in action, showing what they make and explaining why they make it. The goal? Celebrate our nation’s creativity; help people to see, be seen, and break the silos among disciplines, large cities and small towns, big shots and young students.

To submit a video, click here for more information.
MAY 14th - 15th
Celebrate the stories of older adults dancing on during the Dance On Festival, a first-of-its-kind online gathering brought to you by Dance Exchange. Join us to gather, move, and make with older adults, artists, caregivers, and leaders in creative aging.

As Dance Exchange marks 45 years of gathering, moving, and making, you're invited to be part of the celebration during the Dance On Festival! On Friday, tune in for performances by MK Abadoo and Judith Bauer, Juliana Pongutá Forero and Martha Wittman, and Thomas Tyger Moore and Vincent Thomas. On Saturday, choose from a range of panels and conversations with Liz Lerman, Ralph Glenmore, Esther Geiger, Anne Basting, Gay Hanna, and others, and participate in classes and workshops led by Dance Exchange, KanKouran West African Dance Company, TimeSlips, Arts for the Aging, and more.

Click here for free registration.
To request a copy of the 2021 Visit Mountain Maryland Destination Guide, please complete the online request form. A digital version is available on
The 68-page, full color guide serves as the county’s official destination guide, showcasing Mountain Maryland with stunning photography and creative curated content. The magazine-quality booklet features lodging, dining, camping, and museum guides, maps of Frostburg and Cumberland, and compelling feature stories that include:
  • “50th Anniversary of the C&O Canal National Historical Park,” featuring itinerary ideas for a full canal experience;
  • “Home of America’s First Road Trip,” with recommendations on where to go and where to stay along the historic National Road; 
  • “Feel Inspired by Public Art,” featuring eight works of public art;
  • “An Artful Weekend in Mountain Maryland,” including a suggested itinerary for artful experiences;
  • “Mountain Maryland Tap & Pour Tour,” showcasing the county’s growing brewery, winery, and distillery businesses;
  • “Stunning Hikes in the Mountainside,” with information on our state parks and trail systems;
  • “Dine in the Outdoors,” featuring our favorite places to dine al fresco; 
  • and “Driving Business During Challenging Times,” honoring business ingenuity in the time of COVID-19. 

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Arts Summit!
Our 3rd Annual statewide Summit will return this year on June 3rd and 4th.

Stay tuned for content and registration information! 
Free professional development sessions that are open to the public.
Click each session below to learn more and register!
The MSAC Online Resource Bulletin, maintained by Maryland Art Place, includes regional, national, and international exhibition opportunities, grants, fellowships, residencies, and information on available studio spaces in the area. To add to the list, email Caitlin Gill at
Allegany Arts Council

Arts Council of Anne Arundel County

Dorchester County Center for the Arts

Harford County Cultural Arts Board

Howard County Arts Council

Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council

Worcester County Arts Council
Shelley Ensor performs at the Common Ground on the Hill summer music series in 2018. Photo courtesy of Pam Zappardio/Common Ground on the Hill.
Gospel music singer, teacher, and composer Shelley Ensor is a long-time instructor at the annual traditional arts summer school at Common Ground on the Hill (CGOTH), a regional folklife center in Carroll County.

A talented soloist and director, Shelley grew up in Maryland’s rich gospel music tradition, performing with and directing choirs and ensembles across the mid-Atlantic and abroad. She founded the CGOTH Interracial Gospel Choir in 1995 and currently directs the gospel choir at McDaniel College, CGOTH’s institutional home. For more information on CGOTH, visit

Arts in Education Grants provide matching funds of up to $5,000 to eligible Maryland-based nonprofit organizations and government entities to support educational engagements led by Teaching Artists on MSAC’s Teaching Artist Roster.
Deadline: Rolling
Creativity Grants aim to strengthen the vitality and sustainability of artists and small organizations, in order to maintain a strong arts infrastructure in the state.
Deadline: Rolling
Maryland Touring Grants provide funding to eligible Maryland-based non-profit organizations to support the presentation of artists listed on the Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster.
Deadline: Rolling

Network Technical Assistance Grants support organizational development activities beyond the scope of regular activities funded by Arts & Entertainment District Operating Support, County Arts Development, or Folklife Network grants.
Deadline: Rolling

Professional Development Grants encourage and support relevant professional development opportunities for artists and arts organizations throughout Maryland.
Deadline: Rolling
Special Request Grants support needs of arts organizations and programs that fall outside of the eligibility of MSAC’s established grant programs.
Deadline: Rolling


The Arts in Education Teaching Artist Roster supports teaching artists and the elevation of their careers by providing funding to Maryland schools and community groups to book Teaching Roster Artists, fostering connections to statewide networks, providing individualized feedback to strengthen artists’ programming, and heightening visibility through print and online marketing.
The Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster is a list of juried, Maryland-based artists who have a demonstrated history of successful, professional touring engagements. Coupled with the Maryland Touring Grant, the Program is designed to promote the artistic collaboration between Maryland touring artists and Maryland presenting organizations to increase opportunities for professional performing artists to obtain successful touring engagements.

Access all MSAC applications in SmartSimple
Questions? Contact the MSAC staff person for the program you’re interested in learning more about.