As the one year anniversary approaches of William Donald Schaefer’s death, Comptroller Peter Franchot has created a new program to recognize individuals and organizations in each county in Maryland best exemplifying Governor Schaefer’s lifelong commitment to helping people. The honor is called the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award, and winners have been selected based on their demonstration of improving the community, swiftly solving a citizen problem through effective government intervention, directly aiding the most vulnerable in society, or creating a public/private partnership to improve the lives of Marylanders.
Comptroller Franchot will present the award to Leslie Prince Raimond of the Kent County Arts Council on Thursday, June 21 at 2:30 pm at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre in Chestertown. The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre: Funding from the Arts Council has supported this theater since it was restored and opened in 2000. The Arts Center hosts myriad programs by local artists, musicians and actors, as well as a vibrant stage for performers from around the state, country and the world. The New Gospelites will perform and refreshments will be served.
Raimond’s contributions throughout Kent County, have involved arts, humanities and history. As Executive Director of Kent County Arts Council she has overseen the blossoming of festivals, arts in education, art galleries, theater events, oral history recordings, musical performances of all sorts, history celebrations, radio productions, and most recently, the developing of a museum and cultural center at the Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic. Through her participation at Kent County Senior Center, she developed lasting friendships and involvement with the elders in the community encouraging them to share their wisdom and stories for future generations.
To recognize the unique honor of the Schaefer Award, the Kent County Arts Council (KCAC) had originally planned to lead a Chestertown walking tour of some of the key places and events that have blossomed in the town due to the funding and support by Kent County Arts Council, Maryland State Arts Council and County and State Legislators. However, due to the weather forecast for excessive heat on Thursday, it was deemed better to hold the event in an air conditioned space.
Highlights of the tour were to have included:
Town Arts Building: This building was the site of the Kent County Arts Council from 1992 to 2007. It was the venue for First Friday Art Shows, and Coffee House performances from 1994 until Chestertown began a monthly town-wide First Friday Celebration in 2002.
Play it Again Sam’s: This thriving coffee shop was the setting of the first Coffee House performances in the early 90s and has been a musical venue ever since.
The Bookplate: Poetry readings and other celebrations in a fantastic book & pottery store.
Robert Ortiz Studio: The furniture maker and musician was a founder of the Chester River Craft and Art, the organization which later evolved into Chester River Art Works and The Sultana. His workshop is a venue for live performances.
The Sultana: The replica of a 1768 Schooner is a work of maritime art, as well as a tourism engine. Sails on the boat bring throngs of visitors to the area. In addition The Sultana has been a key instrument in educating school children from around the state about sailing, maritime history and the environment.
The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre: Funding from the Arts Council has supported this theater since it was restored and opened in 2000. The Arts Center hosts myriad programs by local artists, musicians and actors, as well as a vibrant stage for performers from around the state, country and the world.
Evergrain Coffee House: This recently founded artisanal bakery exemplifies a burgeoning new culinary local business, while doubling as the setting for live musical performances & poetry readings.
Art Galleries: The town boasts a plethora of art galleries that display art work of local, national and international artists.
The walking tour was to conclude at the historic Charles Sumner Post # 25, Grand Army of the Republic. Kent County Arts Council is currently raising funds to complete the acquisition and restoration of this historic building, which has a deep legacy as a gathering place for Civil War Color Troop veterans. It was built in 1908 by African American veterans of the Civil War and served as a gathering place for veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops. It was named in honor of the famous Massachusetts antislavery senator. It served as the center of African-American community life for 60 years. The stage on the second floor featured live performances by Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Web and the all-girl Big Band, The Sweethearts of Rhythm. It is the only building of its kind in the state of Maryland, and one of only two such monuments left standing in the United States. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
There are plans to develop a world-class museum with an exhibition about the nation’s Civil War and the story of African Americans’ involvement in it. The building will also include an event space featuring jazz, blues, gospel and classical music, youth programs, poetry readings, lecture series, theatre and a film series for everyone to enjoy.
The awards ceremony was documented by The Chestertown Spy with an article and two videos.
Kent County Arts Council is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization founded in 1973. KCAC helps fund, support and produce the arts in Kent County, Maryland. Funded by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Commissioners of Kent County, foundations and private citizens, KCAC supports community events, school cultural arts presentations and individual artists.