Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award

Bookmark and Share

MCA Trustee, and namesake of the Arts Advocate of the Year Award, applauds the performance by Warner Williams and Jay Summerour.
Photo by Edward Winter


Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate
of the Year Award

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. 
2017 Winner

Busy Graham
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. 

Nomination Instructions

Deadline for nominations is Friday, January 13, 2017 at NOON

Nominees must be residents of Maryland. Current government and elected officials, current Maryland State Arts Council staff and councilors, and current trustees and staff of Maryland Citizens for the Arts are INELIGIBLE.

Submit a completed nomination form for each nominee. Please DO NOT submit multiple forms for the same nominee.
For more information call 410.467.6700 or email

Past Winners
2016 Winner: Herb Massie   2015 Winner: Brooke Kidd   2014 Winner: Fred Lazarus
2016: Herb Massie, Director of Community Engagement, Baltimore Clayworks 
2015: Brooke Kidd, Founder/Director, Joe's Movement Emporium 
2014: Fred Lazarus IV, Former President, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) 
2013: Susan S. Farr, Executive Director, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland
2012: Toby Orenstein, Founder and Artistic Director, Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts
2011: E. Scott Johnson, Former Chair, Maryland State Arts Council
2010: Nancy Haragan, Founder and Former Executive Director, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance
2009: James Gillespie, Former Executive Director, Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council