Supporting the Arts through the Pandemic

By Jillian Amodio 

With COVID-19 still affecting the daily lives and financial security of many Marylanders, government-funded relief has brought welcome assistance for many. Unfortunately, not everyone qualified for that financial assistance—like those who make their living creating art. That’s where the Anne Arundel County Art Council stepped in. 

Last month, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and the Arts Council’s Executive Director April Nyman announced a grant for artists and art educators, providing $1 million in federal CARES Act funding. 

“During trying times people turn to the arts for comfort,” said Nyman. “Whether it’s listening to music or watching a film, the arts touch everyone in some way.”  

The funds offered through this grant are critical in helping sustain area artists who have not qualified for other forms of relief.  “Too many of our artists have lost income during this pandemic,” said Pittman. “These grants will help local artists survive the pandemic economy.”  

For Allison Harbaugh, who owns Art Farm in Annapolis, these funds provide much needed breathing room by helping with basic operating costs. When COVID initially hit, Harbaugh says “It was scary and we didn’t know what our future looked like.” She says this funding “could be the path we need to get through this rough patch of winter to be able to keep our business going.” 

 CJ Shiloh is the owner of Annapolis Music Therapy and executive director of The Musical Autist, a music therapy program for individuals of all ages and abilities on the autism spectrum. At the beginning of the pandemic, she and her staff had to quickly work out a plan for tele-health appointments that would allow them to continue to serve their clients. Programs that were going to be implemented in a hospital setting had to be canceled. She hopes to be able to use the grant funds for scholarships for those who need financial help to pay for services.  

For Lynne Streeter Childress, owner of theater company Building Better People Productions, the grant fills in the gap when schools and camps closed down. Childress offers programs to the community often focused on themes like empathy, kindness, and respect. “With this grant we would have some sort of stability to help us continue working to provide theatre opportunities. It would replenish money needed to move forward with future shows that would in turn be able to provide us with opportunities to begin bringing in revenue again.” 

The funds are supplied through the county’s allotment of the federal CARES Act and will be administered by the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County. Grants are separated into two categories: $250,000 will go to support individual independent artists; and $750,000 will go to nonprofit art organizations and businesses that employ artists or performers in Anne Arundel County.