Flannery Winchester recently joined our staff as the new Public Art Manager. We sat down with her to chat about her first few weeks at the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, her interest in working in the arts, and more.
AHCMC: So, tell the readers a little about yourself.
Flannery: I’m originally from South Florida but moved to Baltimore to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art, where I earned my BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture with a minor in Art History. I then spent a few years in New York City working with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to coordinate grant programs for artists and small arts organizations, creating public-facing, community-engaged arts projects throughout the borough. I love experiencing the arts in as many different ways as possible in my spare time, from attending festivals, music and theater performances, puppet shows and dance events to exploring public art around town and frequenting gallery exhibitions. I’m a big fan of science fiction and in particular, enjoy getting lost in Octavia Butler’s work during a quiet evening at home or while in transit. And in my own practice, I love to sew and create fiber-based work.
AHCMC: What led you to work in the arts management field?
Flannery: I started painting, drawing and working on creative projects at an early age, and was lucky enough to meet a mentor while still in high school who ran my hometown’s public art program in Florida. She offered me an internship, during which I got a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how public art projects are brought to life and the complexities of developing impactful and resonant site-specific work. After moving to Baltimore to attend college, I became involved with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. While there, I wore many hats, including managing temporary public art projects at festivals and collaborating with artists to develop educational programs at the organization’s satellite art gallery. I’ve always been most excited by opportunities to increase support and resources for artists doing meaningful and compelling work in their neighborhoods and communities.
AHCMC: Tell us more about your background as an arts administrator.
Flannery: In addition to my background in public art management, I also spent several years working in grantmaking with a focus on increasing the financial resiliency of artists, collectives and small arts organizations in NYC. This included both administering grant programs and offering professional development resources and technical assistance tailored to the needs of the local artists we supported. One of my favorite aspects of working in this field is that it allows me to interact with and hear directly from artists and community members daily; to be responsive to the challenges and opportunities they encounter.
AHCMC: What have your first few weeks at AHCMC been like?
Flannery: Invigorating! Montgomery County has such a rich and diverse arts landscape. I’m so grateful to be back in Maryland and cultivating relationships with the incredible artists contributing to this county’s cultural vitality. We have numerous exciting projects and initiatives underway, and I’ve spent these first few weeks absorbing as much as possible.
AHCMC: What are you most looking forward to as the Public Art Manager?
Flannery: I’m looking forward to further learning about and collaborating with Montgomery County’s artists and communities to grow the public art program as a supportive and impactful resource representative of the diversity and vibrancy of the region. I’m so thrilled to be here.