The "Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award," is named in honor of our first Chair of the Board of Trustees and the longest serving member of the organization. The award recognizes an individual whose advocacy efforts have significantly increased support for and public recognition of the Arts in Maryland.
The award's namesake, Sue Hess, has been a leader and staunch defender of the Arts in Maryland for over forty years. Soon after the founding of MCA in 1977, Sue became the Chair of MCA and is the longest serving member on the Board of Trustees. Working on her own for the first three years at her kitchen table in Ocean City, Sue began forming a network of grass roots art supporters across the state. Over the years, she has been instrumental in driving the tremendous change and growth for the arts in the state.
Beginning in 2009, the Sue Hess Award has been presented during Maryland Arts Day to individuals whose advocacy efforts have significantly benefited the entire Maryland arts community.
Busy Graham has been a passionate advocate for the arts over the past four decades, starting with a career in music education and then in arts administration. She recognized at an early age the impact of the arts and the importance of arts accessibility for everyone. This lifelong dedication has resulted in her imaginative conception and direction of “big picture” arts programs at both state and local levels.
During her time as director of the Institute of Musical Traditions in the early 90’s, and as an elementary school parent, Busy realized that schools and PTAs needed help in identifying high quality cultural arts assembly programs and artist residencies that reflected and celebrated the diversity of their communities. In response, she founded the non-profit Artivate
(formerly Class Acts Arts)
in 1995 and developed a roster of international master artists/educators and program offerings.
During her ten-year tenure with Artivate, Busy initiated and expanded outreach to include low-income schools, special needs centers, senior care facilities, wounded warriors, and other underserved audiences throughout Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia - facilitating an average of more than 2,000 performances, workshops and residencies, reaching an estimated 250,000 residents each year. In 2000, she launched the Project Youth ArtReach program with Artivate, which has earned national recognition for the quality and impact of its programs in correctional facilities and juvenile detention centers. The organization is now celebrating its 22nd anniversary and continues to flourish.
In 2006, Graham founded Carpe Diem Arts
, presenting multi-generational and multi-cultural community events and arts outreach activities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and in Montgomery County. Among her signature programs are Jump Start with the Arts, Ukes on the Move, Carpe Diem Choral Arts Residency Project, Youth ArtBeat after-school programs working with immigrant and refugee populations; Spanish and French immersion summer arts camps; numerous public performance series; and the Arts-to-You e-postings of arts events and activities.
In Talbot County, she has succeeded in raising the funds needed each year since 2010 to guarantee that all schools receive 100% of matching funds for Arts-in-Education programs. As a result, 10 public and private schools in the County will benefit this year from more than 60 programs plus artist residencies-more than double what would otherwise have been possible.
Through fundraising, block-bookings, and creative partnerships with other non-profits, schools, housing developments, and social service agencies, Carpe Diem Arts has effectively extended its reach, while also supporting the livelihoods of many visual, literary, and performing artists representing diverse cultures and traditions.