Life and Death in Chesapeake Country Arts
Annapolis distinguished itself as another kind of capital in the closing weeks of the old year.
First Night concentrated dozens of artists in 30 downtown locations, filling the streets with musicians, magicians and mimes applauded by thousands - the organization estimates 25,000 - of New Year's revelers.
Leading up to that celebration, local musicians took the Ram's Head stage in record numbers, with several dozen acts performing in two nights of holiday extravaganzas on behalf of an emergency fund for musicians down on their luck.
Ram's Head wasn't the only venue where audiences thronged to sample the song-writing and stage skills of a smorgasbord of local talent. Among others, ACME Bar & Grill staged a holiday buffet of local talent, as did Armadillos.
Meanwhile, Anne Arundel and Calvert stages cheered audiences with pageants of Christmas, among them two Christmas Carols, It's a Wonderful Life and Little Women. Nutcrackers and Messiahs could be enjoyed at every turn, along with concerts by musicians of all ages.
Throughout the holiday season, galleries in Annapolis, North Beach and Solomons filled their walls and shelves with local art, and from what we saw, sales were brisk.
In short, you barely had to leave home to be entertained in this capital region of arts performers and patrons.
Nonetheless, Chesapeake Country is not an easy place to make a living through the arts.
Artists and audiences bumped into that reality when Chesapeake Music Hall took its final bow December 26 after a run of nine years and eleven months.
The point is that arts survive by patrons and paying customers.
Did you support a local artist during the season of bounty?
If not, you've done yourself and your family a disservice, not to mention your community.
Did you buy a painting, pot or picture in your frenzy of holiday spending?
If not, you're giving local meaning to the phrase starving artist.
But those are lost opportunities.
It's too late to ever see a show at Chesapeake Music Hall, which fed and entertained tens of thousands of people over thousands of nights. That story ended December 29 as Sherry Kay's enterprises auctioned off its theatrical properties.
But throughout Chesapeake Country, the show goes on.
New shows are going up in galleries as you read these words, and curtains are rising on new plays, starting next week with Colonial Players' As Bees in Honey Drown. Musicians are playing as hard as ever, as you can see each week in Bay Weekly's Music Notes calendar.
And that's not just in Annapolis. We've marked January 12 and 26 as nights we want to be in Chesapeake Beach for the blues jam at Beach Cove restaurant. One Bad Jack opens and then hands the mike over to musicians from Maryland, the District and Virginia.
The General Assembly does its work in our capital for only 90 days. But every night of the year, Annapolis is the capital of a thriving state of the arts, which we support through our patronage - not by our taxes.