Gov. O'Malley recognized for leadership in the arts

maryland-governor-martin-omalleyAmericans for the Arts (AFTA), a leading national arts advocacy organization, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will jointly award Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley the prestigious Public Leadership in the Arts for State Arts Leadership Award on Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C.

The annual award honors governors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts. O'Malley is the first Maryland governor to receive the award.

"I am honored to receive an award that recognizes the arts continue to move Maryland forward," said O'Malley. "The arts support Maryland's identity as a dynamic, cultural and vibrant place to live, learn and visit. But most of all, they have a significant economic impact on our State's economy, supporting jobs for Maryland families."

O'Malley also received the Local Arts Leadership Award from AFTA in 2004 when he was mayor of Baltimore, and he is the only U.S. governor to have received both state and local awards.

"As mayor, he pioneered efforts to leverage the arts as a cultural and economic asset for Baltimore. As Governor, his leadership has led to an expanded arts portfolio that includes 20 designated Arts & Entertainment Districts, a Commission on Public Art and a statewide network of more than 250 arts organizations that have weathered the recession and are showing growth, thanks in large part to stable arts funding from the state," said Hannah Byron, assistant secretary for tourism, film and the arts at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Maryland's arts programs improve under O'Malley's leadership

Under O'Malley's leadership, Maryland schools have ranked No. 1 in the nation for five consecutive years. This record of excellence has been further enhanced by a strong arts presence in classrooms and professional arts development opportunities for Maryland teachers.

"In the 21st century economy of innovation and ideas, the arts in schools foster creativity, a job skill that continues to grow in demand," said Theresa Colvin, executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council. "Arts education provides the critical thinking, communications and innovation skills that will give our students a competitive edge in the modern workforce."

In FY 2012, the Maryland State Arts Council supported performances and workshop sessions for an audience of more than 200,000 students and professional arts training and development opportunities for more than 150 teachers.

In a letter supporting O'Malley's nomination, Doug Mann, chair of Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA), praised the governor for his leadership during the economic crisis, "While the governor has made difficult decisions necessary to balance the budget, he recognizes the critical role the arts play in the education of our children and the economic and cultural vitality of our state. Time and again he has shown the people of Maryland that a strong arts community is key to our quality of life and competiveness as a state."

In December, the Maryland State Arts Council released Economic Impact of the Arts in Maryland: FY2011, a study by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development that details how spending by the MSAC's grantee arts organizations and their audiences ripples through Maryland's economy, creating and retaining jobs and generating revenues for businesses, families and state and local governments. According to the study, Maryland's nonprofit arts sector has a $1 billion impact on the state's economy and supports more than 11,000 jobs that return $399 million in salaries to local residents.