A Signal to Belonging

Dear Montgomery County Residents, AHCMC supporters and Friends, 

As many of you know, it is advocacy season in the county, and I want to thank County Executive Elrich and the Montgomery County Council for their unwavering support of our agency in previous years.  

This year, the County Executive proposed a $6.8M FY2025 budget allocation for AHCMC. This proposed budget for re-granting and administration represents a nearly 3% increase for our sector, where, unfortunately, public funding has not kept pace with the rising cost of inflation and recovery from the pandemic remains slow. While AHCMC is grateful for this recommendation, we must acknowledge this proposal does not adequately address our community’s most significant needs: the rising cost of living and business operations and increased demand for support from new, eligible applicants.

On Thursday, April 25th, I testified before the county’s Education & Culture Committee on behalf of AHCMC and Montgomery County’s local creative sector to request the County Council support the County Executive’s FY2025 budget proposal and to request an additional $700,000 appropriation to meet the 14% increase in demand for grants. 

Our local creative sector continues to experience steady growth from individual artists and scholars and small culturally specific organizations. Why, you ask? Because during the pandemic, the world turned to cultural communities for hope, solace, healing and support. As a result, a new community of creatives emerged and now needs our support. The additional funding requested will provide these newcomers to the field with the same technical assistance, professional development, and grant support that others in our community have received for many years.

Photo Courtesy of DC Beauty of Beijing Opera
Mama Moon at the 2022 Silver Spring Blues Festival | Photo Courtesy of the Silver Spring Town Center
Photo Courtesy of the Sutradhar Institute of Dance and Related Arts

Supporting AHCMC’s request signals BELONGING. It welcomes this expanding pool of applicants into Montgomery County’s cultural industry and bolsters their contributions to the county in a tangible way. Our county population is diverse, multi-generational and multi-cultural. Wallet Hub reports three of the most diverse cities in the United States are in Montgomery County. So, as the newcomer population increases, it is vital the county embrace this new community and the cultural traditions they share with us.

AHCMC understands the colossal challenges county leaders face as they consider budget priorities. No stone can be left unturned in their search for comprehensive, viable and equitable economic solutions to cultivate our economy. However, it is critical to understand that supporting AHCMC’s request is not simply an ask for financial support but a call to consider a worthwhile solution benefiting our local creative industry and the county’s economy

In 2022, our local cultural sector delivered a $183M return on the county’s investment of $6.3M. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the arts and humanities mean business. These monetary resources flow throughout the county- supporting small local businesses, jobs and families- and help provide essential resources and prosperity opportunities for all residents. Undoubtedly, any continued and increased investment in Montgomery County’s creative economy will strengthen the county’s overall economic development. 

We Need Your Support! Please join us in advocating for this crucial funding. The arts and humanities are more than an incredible economic engine; our industry contributes to our communities’ well-being in many ways- supporting mental wellness, public safety, tourism, quality of life, workforce development and more- which helps them thrive. Let YOUR councilmember know how important arts and culture are to you and your community. Write a letter today asking them to support our request to add $700,000 to the County Executive’s proposed budget for AHCMC in FY2025! Thank you for continuing to bolster our work in the community. Your advocacy encourages us to keep moving forward! Together, we can ensure creativity and culture remain accessible, impactful, and thriving throughout Montgomery County.