Maryland Hall hires new executive director to lead Annapolis arts organization out of COVID pandemic – Capital Gazette


On her second day on the job as the new executive director of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Jackie Coleman was introduced to one of Annapolis’ biggest arts events.

In between unpacking her things after moving from Connecticut, Coleman attended the opening night of the Annapolis Film Festival on March 31 and later attended a screening of a documentary about soul and pop singer Dionne Warwick .

The annual film festival is one of the many reasons the job at the helm of the city’s leading arts organization was so enticing, Coleman said.

She comes to this position with extensive artistic experience, including two degrees in theater and experience in education, administration, leadership and performance. Coleman recently worked for five years as Senior Community Impact Manager for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in Connecticut.

Maryland Hall was founded in the late 1970s by a group of community members, including Ellen Moyer, the former alderwoman and mayor, who felt the city needed a community arts center. For the past 40 years, the organization has rented studios in the former Annapolis High School to resident artists and art companies and offered a year-round program of classes and performances focusing on visual arts, music, theatre, writing, dance and more. .

“I think it was the range of programs that Maryland Hall offers,” Coleman said of what attracted her to the position. “The fact that there is the possibility of performances and exhibitions in the same space where there are educational experiences – because I also have a background in arts education – I really loved all of this coming together.

“I love being able to come downstairs and watch 6-year-olds practice ballet,” she added. “I took ballet lessons when I was 6. So I love that all of these things exist and exist in this historic building.

Coleman is the third person to lead Maryland Hall since 2017. She succeeds Emily Garvin who served as executive director since late 2019. Prior to Garvin, Margaret Davis served just under two years from late 2017 to September 2019 when she resigned for unknown reasons. .

Last summer, Maryland Hall’s board of trustees, led by its president Debbie Mayer, formed a committee that conducted a nationwide search to replace Garvin, communications director Katie Redmiles Barron said.

The committee used a ranking system to review 120 applicants before landing on Coleman, Mayer said.

Coleman arrives as Maryland Hall begins to fully reopen after closings and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, including dropping its mask mandate on Monday.

During the pandemic, the creative arts center has been kept afloat by programs set up to help financially struggling arts organizations, Barron said. These included a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Loan Program and a grant from the Enclosed Venue Operator Grant Program established by the US Small Business Administration to help theaters, museums and other performance venues make ends meet. Additional funds came from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Anne Arundel County Arts Council.

“We are now moving away from this emergency financial support and hope to continue to bring our audience back more and more to keep moving forward,” Barron said.

In his first week, Coleman prioritized getting to know his staff and understanding their needs moving forward. During the pandemic, the staff was cut in half from 19 to 10, she said.

“It made sense when the place was closed because they couldn’t have anyone,” she said. “But now that we are reopening, the staff are starting to feel that we need more physical bodies; we need more support to truly be able to be the vibrant community asset that we have been.

Coleman’s ability to jump in and apply her vast professional experience was part of the reason she was hired, Mayer said.

“His ability to build teams within an organization and in the community, that’s really important coming out of COVID, in particular,” Mayer said. “After the pandemic, we were all isolated. Maryland Hall was opened, but not as we knew before.

At the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Coleman led the organization’s arts strategy and helped create Catalyst for the Arts, an initiative to help arts organizations develop sustainable programming and operations in response to the pandemic.

In the 1990s, Coleman earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater at the University of Connecticut.

She then worked as a professional actress in New York City for 10 years and continued performing full time earning a Masters of Fine Arts in Theater from the University of South Carolina.

For six years, she was the educational director at Hartford Stage, a Tony Award-winning theater. She then served as Senior Executive Arts Advisor for Hartford Public Schools for five years. In 2015, she became an arts education consultant with the Connecticut State Board of Education.

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Although acting is the art form in which she was trained the most, notably at many Shakespeare festivals, Coleman developed a passion for other arts. During his professional career,[M]y lens was all arts – dance, music, theatre, visual arts, media and arts education,” she said.

As she settles in, Coleman isn’t ready to discuss her vision for the organization just yet, but she said she hopes to honor the city’s history while considering today’s social climate. today.

“We will honor [the history] but then make sure to consider the context, to consider that it’s 2022 and we’re hoping to come out of a pandemic and have a keen awareness that during those years the social unrest that has taken place in our community strongly impacted the art sector,” she said.

Coleman succeeds Garvin, who recently left the organization when his family left the area. For the past 23 years, Garvin served as director of education and vice president of programs at Maryland Hall before being promoted to chief creative and operations officer in 2017, then executive director.

“Emily Garvin was an incredible and dedicated arts professional for so many years at Maryland Hall,” Mayer said. “She went above and beyond in helping guide us through COVID.”

With Coleman in the fold, Mayer said she can’t wait to see more people in the halls and fill the old school theater and classrooms. She also hopes to continue some of the outdoor programs developed during the pandemic.

“All the things I loved about Maryland Hall because I’ve been involved with it for almost 30 years,” Mayer said. “Everyone is on board to resume the hard work of fulfilling our Art for All mission.”


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