Photo courtesy of Ward Museum
“So often, we don’t equate the arts with jobs,” says John Schratwieser, director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. But “these jobs cross many disciplines and make a substantial contribution to the economy.”
How substantial? A recent study by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) shows the arts industry generated nearly 11,000 full-time-equivalent jobs during fiscal year 2010, with arts-related employment accounting for $385 million in salaries.
David Burdick, a costume designer at Baltimore’s Center Stage, is an example of an arts-related professional. A graduate of the University of North Carolina’s School for the Arts, Burdick joined Center Stage in 1984, where he started as a stitcher. Today, he heads the theater’s costume shop.
Gretchen Schermerhorn, who holds an MFA, was a successful artist when she took a job with Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring three years ago. She has since broadened her expertise to include management and budgetary matters.
As artistic director, she works closely with the nonprofit center’s executive director to preserve such traditions as printmaking and bookbinding through hands-on training and a vibrant artists-in-residence program.
“I came to this job as a fine artist and have learned to think like a businessperson,” says Schermerhorn. “To keep Pyramid vital, we must use creative ways to deal with budget cuts and reach our community-involvement goals.
“Our outreach programs range from classes on papermaking for schoolchildren to classes for working artists seeking to diversify their skills and maybe even start their own business.”
Jobs in the arts span a broad spectrum of specialties, from performers, directors, and teachers to ticket-takers, architects, security guards, and set designers.
Renee Fredericksen’s job touches on several parts of that spectrum.
A self-described “lifetime arts aficionado” and current community resource director at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, Fredericksen considers hers a “dream job,” combining her love of the cultural traditions of the Eastern Shore, interest in environmental issues, and degrees in social-science education, human ecology, and public administration.
Internationally known and affiliated with Salisbury University, the Ward Museum employs 16 people and houses the world’s largest collection of decorative and antique decoys. But the facility is equally proud of its internship program for students of education, biology, art history, and environmental science. While unpaid, qualified participants earn academic credits that may propel them toward their own arts-related careers.
“This is an excellent way to attract young people to fields that match a niche job market,” says Fredericksen.
“The arts are critical to developing the minds of our young people, spurring their creativity and imagination, [and] preparing them to succeed in the knowledge economy,” says Teresa Colvin, director of DBED’s Maryland State Arts Council, which provides grants to nonprofits and individuals throughout the state.
Fortunately, she adds, “Governor O’Malley is extremely supportive of the arts in Maryland, as is the General Assembly.
“We are lucky to live in a state where the arts are valued not only for their economic impact, but for their impact on the quality of life.”
To learn more about Maryland Citizens for the Arts, which will host its annual Maryland Arts Day conference in Annapolis on February 8, visit www.mdarts.org. To find out more about the Maryland State Arts Council, visit www.msac.org.
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