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Volume xviii, Issue 9 ~ March 4 - March 10, 2010

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Between the Beltway and a Hard Place

Chesapeake Arts Center celebrates nine years of art in 10th anniversary

by Diana Beechener

The Chesapeake Arts Center is using artistic license in celebrating 10 years of bringing lively arts to Northern Anne Arundel County.

“We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of our gala,” explains executive director Davina Grace Hill. “The arts center is actually nine years old. You gotta raise the money to open the building. We’ve been doing galas for 10 years so we could be in business for nine.”

Even a year short of the decade mark, Chesapeake Arts Center has plenty to celebrate. Nine years ago, the center was a lofty idea in need of a building.

The idea became reality in 2001 as part of Maryland’s Smart Growth initiative.

“There were some really passionate art advocates in the northern county who felt that they were missing amenities,” says Hill. “The community got together and said they didn’t need a high school. They needed a middle school, a senior center, a juvenile courts center, a parks and rec center and an arts center. So we were all put together in this building. It’s a big building.”

Chesapeake Arts Center moved in to more challenges. The first problem to tackle was convincing Anne Arundel Countians that they had an arts center.

The center was aimed at citizens of Brooklyn Park, Linthicum and Glen Burnie, though Hill says regular visitors come from as far as York, Pennsylvania, for Irish step classes. To reach out, the center made its ample stage space available to its patrons.

“One of the biggest things we do is provide a venue for dance recitals,” Hill says. “We offer a place where amateurs and people starting off can perform in a really professional space.”

Even in hard economic times, the arts center has found that people want to dance.

“We still stay busy,” says Hill. “What we’ve seen in these economic times is that people who used to book three days of dance competitions now book two.”

Community recitals aren’t the only events that keep the space lively. The main stage has housed the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum, a 28-year-old production company known for packing the house. The center has also developed one of the region’s most popular Christmas events, The Hack and Slash Christmas Carol.

The center has also worked to develop a following in the musical community.

“We are trying to build a following in three specific tracks: One is our family concert series, one is our folk music series and one is our international performance series,” Hill says.

Classes are another way to bring curious countians to the center.

“We are now partnering with Ballet Theatre of Maryland and Bay Theatre Company to provide professional dance and theater instruction through our classes,” Hill says. “We also have private music instruction and a state-of-the-art ceramics lab.”

On Saturday March 6, Chesapeake Arts Center celebrates almost a decade of success at an ornate gala at the BWI Sheraton. For $100 you can experience the live music and entertainment that the center offers. For $5 to $15, however, you can attend any performance at the center year-round.

“If you want to do it, if you want to learn how to do it or if you want to watch it being done, we’ve got it,” says Hill.

For a direct route to the center, follow Ritchie Highway north, past Rt. 50 and Rt. 100 and under the Beltway (Rt. 695). Once inside the Beltway make a left at Hammonds Lane. Chesapeake Arts Center is located at 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park.

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