Coming to you live from Maryland, it’s Montgomery County’s arts and humanities sector! Your communities, audiences, and colleagues have missed you and are looking forward to experiencing creativity and culture live and in-person once again!
The past year has taught us exactly how critical creativity is for the mind, body, and soul. Not to mention the societal and economic benefits the cultural industry provides our local, state, and federal economy. Montgomery County Government recognizes the extraordinary value our sector brings to the table both economically and socially, and as a result, appropriated a budget of $5.7 million to help sustain the arts and humanities as we recover and rebuild. A vibrant arts and culture community that increases the quality of life for residents and visitors underscores the vital role we play in supporting a strong economic rebound in the county.
Despite the innumerable challenges we faced during the pandemic, our creative sector persevered and played a powerful role in uplifting and uniting Montgomery County residents. From lawn concerts and virtual storytelling to encouraging artwork, messages of gratitude and civic murals, arts and humanities practitioners remained pillars in the community by pivoting, discovering, and creating new pathways to engage, support, and convene with audiences.
Now…the moment we’ve all been waiting for…we are reopening our doors and inviting people back in! In-person experiences are generating excitement and buzz all around the county. The popularity of events such as the Rockville Redgate Park concerts, Variant Strains by Best Medicine Rep, and Artisans and Farmers Market at BlackRock Center for the Arts demonstrate how hungry people are to engage with our industry and one another.
As exciting as this moment is, the next phase of reopening still represents facets of the unknown. When should we reopen our doors? Does indoor programming make sense financially at this time? How can we produce in-person programming if we cannot find an available space? Should we continue producing virtual programs, switch to in-person only, or use a hybrid approach? The questions go on and on, but I want to encourage you to not let fear, anxiety, or frustration overwhelm you.
We are once again facing something new and the discomfort that comes with being vulnerable and inexperienced is normal. But if we embrace the discomfort, we will discover the strength to survive and emerge on the other side with new skills, habits, ideas, and more. Researcher and storyteller Brené Brown has a wonderful 3-step strategy for persevering through awkward first-time experiences. She encourages us to first normalize not knowing what to do and acknowledging that the anxiety we feel is okay. Second, she suggests putting everything into perspective; remember, this situation is not permanent. Third, reality check our expectations and give ourselves a break! The situation is going to be uncomfortable for a while and you will not be an expert at it right away, but you will improve, you will grow and things will be better in the long run.
It is my hope that you keep these things in mind as you move forward with reopening and know that AHCMC is here to fully support you in every way we can. Starting with #ArtHappensHere, our latest public art initiative designed to promote the safe reopening of Montgomery County’s creative economy. We are also developing a paid county-wide marketing campaign to engage audiences and increase participation in the arts and humanities this summer and fall. These efforts work in concert with the services offered through CultureSpotMC and MarketPower. Remember to upload your events and programs, and send us your stories, ticket giveaways, cooperative ads, and more so we can promote all of the incredible work you do!
Looking forward to a much brighter tomorrow with each one of you. Onward!