Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC)

Survey Question: Workforce Development

According to Workforce Trends in Montgomery County, Maryland 2012-2017 by Dr. Stephen S. Fuller, the Countyís employment base is projected to grow 5.9 percent by the year 2017. Fuller notes that the arts and humanities are an important part of that growth. In your view, can the arts and humanities help address some of the workforce development challenges facing Montgomery County? If so, how? And if not, why?


Roger Berliner - County Council - Absolutely, and I am happy that you already have a seat at the table in that important conversation. I am pleased to have worked with many county nonprofit leaders, Montgomery Moving Forward, and the MBDC to craft the ìcareer pathwaysî legislation that I introduced several weeks ago with the support of all of my Council colleagues. I am grateful for Suzan Jenkinsís contributions to this important and diverse organization of stakeholders throughout all sectors of our County. Speaking more broadly, educating and cultivating a creative workforce is essential to ensuring we have the brightest, most innovative minds in Montgomery County. The businesses that are changing the world through innovation demand a creative, problem-solving, think-outside-the-box workforce. And studies show that students with some sort of arts training are statistically proven to better meet this criteria as opposed to their peers who have not been exposed to or trained in the arts. If we want to attract great jobs to the county, we need to continue to cultivate a creative, nimble workforce.

Neda Bolourian - County Council - The arts and humanities can usher in a plethora of new jobs to Montgomery County. We must advocate the importance of getting people involved in programs that allow healthy self expression. A lot of art groups have sprung up in Montgomery County in the recent years and have received a warm reception. It's time that we move forward and bring more arts and humanities to our county, which will also bring in more jobs.

Beth Daly - County Council - Arts and Humanities provide creative and critical thinking skills that enable innovation in all sectors of the economy, and that are increasingly necessary to adapt to a changing society and workplace. The most direct way they can help address those challenges is through classes and workshops at Montgomery Community College. Beyond that, I welcome further ideas and input from the A&H community on this matter.

Marc Elrich - County Council - The arts and humanities employ a fair number of people and I've spoken to people who feel that our continued support has provided opportunities that our support has allowed them to sustain themselves as artists. I would imagine that our continuing to support arts will serve to encourage the efforts of existing, as well as, new artists. I know the Executive is working on a very creative idea that could involve the arts in the re-use of the Silver Spring police station, and I'm interested in the possibility of a project similar at least in function, to the Torpedo Factory. And I've long been supportive of bringing a Children's Museum to the County. I would continue to look for innovative and creative ways to expand access to the arts and humanities in the County, and jobs will come with that.

Nancy Floreen - County Council - Certainly, we can encourage the investment of private sector dollars to help leverage arts and humanities spending to support job growth.

Evan Glass - County Council - Many members of our diverse community can use their arts training toward improved workforce development. Whether it is an actor in Artstream or a local visual artist, the work undertaken by the Arts and Humanities Council crosses all boundaries.

Dick Jurgena - County Council - I don't see how the arts and humanities can help address the workforce development challenges facing Montgomery County. Most of the employment base increase for the next few years is going to come from illegal non-citizens in low paying jobs. They are going to be more interested in surviving than in the arts and humanities. The wage earners, business owners and retired who would be most interested in the arts are being driven out by high taxes and overwhelming regulations. Can the arts and humanities stem the tide of illegal non-citizens?

George Leventhal - County Council - In addition to providing direct employment, participation in the arts enables job applicants to become well-rounded, creative thinkers.

Vivian Malloy - County Council - Yes, the arts and humanities can help stimulate new workforce opportunities and increase sales of goods that will significantly contribute to enhancing our local community economy. The public is generally interested in supporting the Arts due to the variety of entertainment and the night time social life it offers to the community. The attraction of having arts and humanity either near or within walking distance in your local neighborhood brings many benefits to creating a vibrate local economy because of being able to work, live and be entertained within your own community. Additionally, I am an avid supporter of national recognition programs that celebrate the cultural heritage and arts of our diverse population here in Montgomery County.

Tom Moore - County Council - They can, yesóbut within reason. The figures in question 11 are impressive, but they are a small part of the whole. Strictly defined, the arts and humanities fit into the ìtourism clusterî of industries, which make up perhaps 2 percent of the stateís job base. Thatís why itís so impressive that in a county without professional sports and casinos, this sector is actually 50 percent bigger and stronger than the U.S. average, according to a new study through the University of Maryland. Still, I want to be sure Montgomery Countyís offerings are not lost in the shadow of Washington and Baltimore. The past decade-plus has seen our cultural offerings expand through Strathmore Hall, Round House Theatre Silver Spring, Montgomery Collegeís Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, the Fillmore Silver Spring, and Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, among others. This expansion has made our county more attractive to residents, visitors, and employers. Our museums and historic sites are just as worthy, from Brookside Gardens (my kids love nature) to the Beall-Dawson House, just two blocks from my home. As a former board member of Peerless Rockville, Iím a big believer in historic preservation and passing on the significance of our history and cultural heritage. The DC areaís theater scene is second only to New Yorkís, and Montgomery County has a healthy collection of award-winning community, college, and professional theaters and concert halls. Current employees of Olney Theatre Center and Gaithersburgís Arts Barn, among others, came out of community theater, so moving into the arts full-time can be done. Another new Olney Theatre Center employee moved here from Arena Stage. Just as Strathmore drew the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, our county is attractive to good employeesóand as our Department of Economic Development states, the arts and humanities here are clearly part of that.

Nancy Navarro - County Council - This is a strong sector of our economy and we should integrate it into our workforce development strategy

Hans Riemer - County Council - By investing in the arts and humanities, we are making Montgomery County an even more attractive place to live, work, and start a business. Arts and humanities not only provides opportunities for employment, it contributes to our overall economic development goals. I know that arts and humanities supports 3,843 jobs in our County and generates $81.7 million in local salaries, artist fees and other compensation.

Ryan Spiegel - County Council - Yes. The arts and humanities contribute in many ways to workforce and economic development. In Gaithersburg, the growth of our successful Book Festival has brought tens of thousands of people to our city, where they patronize our shops and restaurants and support all kinds of other local jobs. Arts education and experience teaches creativity, helping to train the next generation of innovators to think big. And more directly, a robust arts and humanities sector can support arts-based jobs in many fields, from cuisine to literature, fashion to construction. The arts permeate all of these industries.

Jeffrey Thames - County Council - Yes. It could channel the energy being spent by a lot of young people seeking to be professional rock stars into a creative hobby type activity which would then highlight the importance of maintaining a full time W2 job, while having an outlet for fun.

Duchy Trachtenberg - County Council - Yes I agree with Dr. Fuller that arts and humanities opportunities can help create greater economic vitality for the county. I believe the Council must do the following: 1) Increase grant amount to $500,000 to be applied equitably across all levels of grant recipients 2) Continue $200,000 matching funds for Executive Ball 3) Increase operating and project funding for the arts and 4) Support capital projects for the arts for next 5 years

Tim Willard - County Council - Sustainable growth for the county will require a more vibrant local business community. Arts and humanities projects will be an important part of this development.

Phil Andrews - County Executive - Yes. As County Executive I will create many more opportunities for service-learning through programs like AmeriCorps, including programs that have a focus on the arts and/or that can provide volunteer coordination.

Douglas Duncan - County Executive - I believe that the answer is yes. What I did as County Executive was to say that arts facilities are a major part of our economic development efforts. That as we move to revitalize our town centers weíve got to have arts centers as a part of that as activity centers for people to come. So you can look to AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring or the Black Box Theater in Silver Spring. You could look to Imagination Stage in Bethesda, you can look to Round House Theater in Bethesda, you can go to Black Rock Center in Germantown, you can look to what was Rockville Arts Place, now VisArts in downtown Rockville. And people understood that, they bought that, they liked that idea of having arts facilities, and frankly weíre doing libraries now as part of sort of town center gathering places as well. And I think itís an easy way to convince the public. So if you combine arts facilities, art programming, with direct economic development efforts, the public becomes much more supportive of that. And thatís what I did as County Executive before, and thatís what I intend to do in Wheaton and other places as we continue to redevelop and continue to revitalize this county. Arts is an integral part of who we are as a community. Itís a part of our culture now with facilities that weíve had, and Iím very proud that the public understands that as part of our economic development efforts. So I want to focus on making Montgomery County the center for the innovation economy. Itís one way to help grow jobs. As Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL and a venture capitalist, said ìthis is the job growth of the futureî. We need Montgomery County to be the center for startup companies in this region. But instead of that we are closing incubators; weíre evicting 38 bio-tech startups from the Shady Grove incubator to make it a federal cyber research center. Weíre going to close the Wheaton incubator when the lease runs out. We should be expanding and adapting our startup space and opportunities for companies to come here. You need a diverse economy to make sure that as the bigger economy goes up and down weíve got enough of a diverse base here of businesses to help sustain us through that. And the way to do that is to make Montgomery County the startup center for businesses here.

Sidney Katz - County Executive - Yes. There is a tremendous amount of employment based on the arts and humanities in the County.

Ike Leggett - County Executive - Yes. But it requires appropriate training to ensure that we have adequate personnel in the industry. But as it becomes more technology based, we need to do a better job so that the people are better trained in the industry for the future. Second, we need to make sure that the artists, the people that that are working in the industry have the resources and supports that they need so that they can participate fully in their crafts and arts and be paid an appropriate sum. Thirdly, we need to devote more time to publicize and develop the awareness of the arts community in Montgomery County so that we can generate more philanthropic support from the private sector to help the industry as well. For example, there are very large numbers of donors who participate in the arts in other communities such as DC and Virginia, but are residents of Montgomery County but we need to reverse that trend.

Jim Shalleck - County Executive - Yes. Increased facilities and programs will create more jobs which will benefit the economy.


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