“Creative Placemaking” is a term that has been used in the arts community for a number of years. According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) the definition of creative placemaking is, “a concept tying in the work of multiple sectors to strategically shape the physical and social characteristics of a place around arts and cultural activities.” 

As we begin to build our confidence to move back into the world, I have been thinking about how experiencing art is tied to experiencing the place in which the art exists. While we can continue to honor and use what we were forced to invent virtually, the truth is our sector is dependent upon experiencing art in its place. Over the past 14-months, we may have been fortified by a digital exhibition or a recording of a performance, but nothing replaces the ability to move around a sculpture or the energy exchange between live performers and a live audience.

As much as I have enjoyed and will continue to hold virtual spaces for a variety of exchanges, I look forward to site visits again. I am working with Commerce leadership to develop safety protocols for the MSAC staff to use and to be shared with constituents as we begin to schedule site visits. There is something invaluable that occurs when we meet in a creative place to share ideas about how art can elevate our collective experience. 

To quote Pam Breaux, the Executive Director of NASAA, “Community members know better than anyone their assets and their challenges, and they should be central to charting their own courses forward.” The MSAC staff and I look forward to, once again, meeting in your galleries, performance venues, and studios - in your communities - to deepen our connection with your vision and offer you our support to bring your ideas to fruition.

Ken Skrzesz, Executive Director, Maryland State Arts Council
The Maryland Arts Summit, now in its third year, is presented by and for the Maryland arts sector and curated by MSAC, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the Fine Arts Office of the Maryland State Department of Education, and Arts Education in Maryland Schools. The 2021 Maryland Arts Summit: Art OF the Community will hold six live streamed sessions focused on current topics in the Maryland creative sector, interspersed with creative bursts of art-making and performances. All together, the Summit will elevate voices within Maryland’s arts communities. 

The Summit is free and takes place virtually June 3rd and 4th. To view the full schedule and to register, click here.
Please help us welcome Abdul Ali, MSAC's new Arts & Entertainment Districts and County Arts Development Program Director!

Abdul is a literary artist, educator, and arts administrator. Previously, Abdul was program coordinator at CCBC where he oversaw arts and humanities programming at the Community College of Baltimore County. He has worked in the nonprofit sector for 15 years, in various capacities including programming, communications, and development. He is also a graduate of American University where he received an M.F.A in Creative Writing. Abdul has published in dozens of literary journals, newspapers, and magazines.

We a thrilled to have him join the MSAC team! Want to get in touch with Abdul? You can email him at abdul.ali@maryland.gov.
 Highlandtown Arts & Entertainment District
MSAC’s Independent Artist Awards (IAAs) recognize achievement by Maryland artists making work independent of an institution or organization. The awards are accompanied by grants of $2,000, $10,000, and $15,000 that encourage artistic growth and sustained practice. 

2022 IAAs will recognize artists in the Literary ArtsArtistic categories rotate in a three-year cycle. Performing Arts applications will be accepted in Summer 2022; Visual/Media Arts applications will be accepted in Summer 2023. Artists may apply to the category they feel best represents their work.    

For further details and information, including IAA Guidelines, please visit our website here. The application deadline is Thursday, July 1st at 5 p.m.

  MSAC Public Art Program DirectorLiesel Fenner & Artist, Nnamdi Okonkwo on a recent visit to the Coppin State University construction site.
The Public Art Across Maryland: Artwork Commissions program is pleased to announce the selection of three artists commissioned to create public artwork for new buildings on Maryland HBCU campuses. Two artists were selected for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s new School of Pharmacy & Health Professions building. Ebon Heath will develop a hanging mobile for the building's atrium, and Ayokunle Odeleye will be creating two sculptures for the building's entrance plazas. The artist Nnamdi Okonkwo was chosen to create an exterior sculpture for Coppin State University’s new College of Business. The three artists are making site visits as they develop their site-specific artwork for each respective university. We will continue to share project updates in future newsletters. 

Artist’s interested in applying for commissions at State of Maryland buildings and campuses are encouraged to check the Artwork Commissions page on the MSAC website where there are currently two open opportunities with an application deadline of June 7, 2021.

Gregg Morris (Cecil County), 2021 Independent Artist Awardee. Set Design for a Ballet. Canvas, acrylic on wood panel, 2019.
MSAC relies on a diverse array of experts from across the state of Maryland to do the important work of evaluating applications. We invite participation through program-specific public calls for panelists, and we select panelists with a focus on diversity of experiences, diversity of location, and expertise in varying artistic disciplines.

  • IAA panelists help MSAC recognize the achievement of Maryland artists, awarding $2,000, $10,000, and $15,000 awards. 
  • Public art panelists bring expertise to reviewing and scoring applications from artists and organizations applying for grants that support the planning, creation, and conservation of public artwork across the state. 

Click here to apply. Log in or create a free account in SmartSimple. Under Funding Opportunities, select "Public Call", and choose the program you would like to serve. Please feel free to reach out to the IAA or Public Art program directors with any questions. 
The first post in the “Still Here” social media series focuses on the Pocomoke Indian Nation, whose traditional lands include places commonly known today as Somerset County, most of Worcester County, and eastern Wicomico County, Maryland; northern Accomac County, Virginia; and southern Sussex County, Delaware.
Maryland Traditions is excited to announce a new social media series, “Still Here,” which focuses on the histories and cultures of American Indian tribes whose lands are claimed by Maryland. “Still Here” derives from the MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project, in which staff are consulting with tribes to create publicly-accessible land acknowledgement statements and resources.

The “Still Here” series joins another, “Did You Know,” which weekly features traditional arts and artists, cultures, and heritage located in Maryland. Follow Maryland Traditions on Facebook and Instagram to learn more!
Artist, Charles County

Aroha Philanthropies and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies announced recently that MSAC is one of 36 arts agencies receiving a grant through its Leveraging State Investments in Creative Aging initiative. The grants are meant to expand opportunities for creative aging across the nation, facilitating lifelong learning, joy, social engagement, and improved wellbeing for older adults.

MSAC’s grant will support a Creative Aging Arts Provider and Venue Training project, which includes collaboration with the Fine Arts Office of the Maryland Department of Education (MSDE) to expand existing professional learning as part of MSDE’s Maryland Micro-Credentials for Creative Classrooms (#mcreds) Creative Aging Provider training. It will also support two biannual networking events for #mcreds alums and community partners as well as an annual convening at the Maryland Arts Summit. To read more, click here.
Maryland's most common emergencies involve severe storms, resulting in flooding, thunder/lightning, high winds, power outages, etc. Check out the link here for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency list of ways your arts organizations and/or households can be prepared this summer.
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 caitlin@mdartplace.org.
(L- R) Thomas Riford (Assistant Secretary, Tourism, Film, the Arts, Marketing, and Communication),
Patrick Dougherty (artist),
and Ken Skrzesz (Executive Director, MSAC).
Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists’ Exhibition, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the following year, he had his first one-person show entitled, Waitin’ It Out in Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the last thirty-some years, he has built over 300 of these works, and become internationally acclaimed. His sculpture has been seen worldwide---from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.

While not based in Maryland, Patrick did recently install "Old Home Place" - a large scale sculpture installation at Maryland Hall's campus in Annapolis in early May with the help of volunteers and local collaborators. The sculpture took three weeks, with 150 volunteers, and the collecting of saplings and branches from trees found on three farms on the Eastern Shore. The final sculpture will stand on campus for one to three years and is open to the public. For more of of Patrick's work, visit stickwork.net!

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

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

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