GAITHERSBURG – According to city officials, Gaithersburg’s cultural scene is robust and vibrant with potential for growth.
The city’s Arts on the Green program sponsors performances at two venues in Kent Square. Community theater groups, singer-songwriters and magicians regularly perform at the 99-seat Arts Barn, while chamber performances and interactive murder mysteries are held at the Kentlands Mansion. Both venues also serve as galleys for art exhibitions.
On Monday night, Arts Administrator Shellie Williams participated in a work session with Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to discuss the steps her department had taken to improve and promote Arts on the Green, as well as the program’s future. Williams cited the development of a patrons list as a crucial support for the program.
“We had to actively court new and existing patrons by providing great experiences and excellent customer service to earn their trust and gain their repeat business,” Williams said.
Williams said that the appeal of the Barn and Mansion was largely responsible for inspiring interest in the program.
“Aside from our staff, our greatest assets are our facilities,” Williams said. “The elegant Mansion and the charming Arts Barn play a huge role in setting the stage for a magical night.”
“As a performer, one of the things I really like about Arts on the Green is the intimacy of the settings,” said Ken Kemp, an actor and musician who lives in Gaithersburg. “Whether you’re performing on the stage of the Arts Barn or in the Mansion, you can really connect with your audience in a very personal and intimate way.”
Williams said that her program will expand outreach efforts and work with other arts organizations to promote Arts on the Green’s programs.
Ashman praised Arts on the Green’s efforts.
“Our first role as a municipal government is to make sure that everyone’s safe, that the roads are clear and paved, and all of that great stuff,” Ashman said. “But to actually create Gaithersburg as a place, more than just streets and addresses, that’s where culture comes in. I have to congratulate you on your success here and for doing a lot with a little. We don’t have a huge budget for these things, but what you’ve laid out was a lot of creativity, passion, work with partnerships, creative marketing, and it’s showing in the bottom line.”
Other members of the council also praised Williams’ efforts. Council member Henry Marraffa called for reform of liquor laws to allow for the revival wine tastings and similar events, which were held at the Mansion in its early days.