“Almost every day of the year, something is going on at the college’s Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, and our students are involved,” says Valerie Lash, Howard Community College (HCC) arts and humanities division chairperson.
ARTS FROM 'A' TO 'T'
Associate degrees, transfer patterns, and credit courses are currently offered in the following subject areas:
• Art (studio, architecture, interior design)
Coleen West, executive director of the Howard County Arts Council, is also a fan. “HCC is a major resource for the arts and the community,” says West. “The expanded curriculum provides students of all ages with a strong foundation in a wide variety of artistic disciplines – including traditional art forms and new digital media – and prepares them for successful careers.”
According to Dun & Bradstreet, Howard County is home to more than 700 arts-related businesses that employ 2,700 people and enrich the lives of residents. The developed by the Americans for the Arts, shows that the total economic impact of the county’s nonprofit arts organizations in 2011 was $7.3 million, including $716,000 in local and state government revenue.
Technology is not usually what comes to mind when you think about the arts. However, technology adds an important dimension to HCC’s arts programs. Students benefit from advanced electronic music labs and soundproof studios; hands- on experience with digital video and audio equipment; and classrooms with the latest graphic output capabilities.
Another distinction of the arts programs is an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Last year, students and professional artists collaborated on a multimedia exhibit, dance performance, and concert thematically exploring the “art of seduction.”
The college expands opportunities for students by partnering with area cultural arts organizations, providing performing and exhibition space, technical expertise, and creative support. “Collaboration builds understanding of how to function in the world, meet deadlines, work with different personalities, and appeal to an audience,” Lash explains. Partners include the Columbia Festival of the Arts, HoCoPoLitSo, Howard County Center of African American Culture, Red Branch Theatre Company, African Art Museum of Maryland, Candlelight Concert Society, Columbia Film Society, and the Howard County Arts Council.
Last but not least, HCC’s arts faculty distinguishes these programs – all are working artists who bring a wide range of experience to share with their students. “We strongly believe that students benefit from studying with professionals,” Lash says. “They learn to understand the passion, energy, and commitment the arts require.”
Lash herself is an actress and founding director of Rep Stage, a professional Equity theatre in residence at HCC. She has earned the Howard County Arts Council’s Howie Award as Arts Educator of the Year and was inducted into the Howard County Commission for Women for her contributions to the cultural community.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
In addition to HCC’s external partnerships, several resident organizations give students the invaluable opportunity for hands-on, real-world learning experiences, including:
Arts Collective (AC), under the direction of founder and producing artistic director Sue Kramer, gives students, alumni, employees, and guest artists the opportunity to hone and showcase their talents on stage and behind the scenes in community theatrical productions, improv comedy shows, and AC Dance Company performances.
The Rouse Company Foundation gallery and Art Department Gallery
Two beautiful public galleries in the Horowitz Center furnish students with experiences in organizing and exhibiting their work and showcase HCC faculty and other professional artists from around the world. Students interested in arts administration, gallery management, or museum studies take classes with Becky Bafford, associate professor and art gallery director, to learn exhibit design, lighting, and promotion while working in a gallery setting.
HCC-TV, as part of Howard County’s educational access cable system (Comcast 96 / Verizon 41), produces original shows and public interest programming for more than 500,000 viewers. The facility includes Howard County Government Television (Comcast 99 / Verizon 44). HCC-radio “The Dragon,” is a student-based Internet streaming station. Margaret Kahlor, executive producer/television services director, and staff provide HCC students with hands-on programming and production opportunities in both media outlets.
HCC’s music department hosts an annual Music Concert Series in the John G. Monteabaro Recital Hall to showcase faculty talent, student ensembles, and guest artists, while allowing students to learn, perform, and network with professional musicians. The music department also provides noncredit instruction and performance opportunities in The Music Institute and the Little Patuxent Opera Institute.
Rep Stage is an award-winning professional Equity theatre in residence at the college, but it is also an important learning platform for HCC students, according to Michael Stebbins, producing artistic director. “Students work side-by-side with professionals as actors, crew, stage hands, and production assistants,” he says.