Maryland Arts Day

What is Maryland Arts Day?

Maryland Arts Day is the largest annual gathering of arts professionals in Maryland. With more than 500 participants, representing every county in the state and Baltimore City, this statewide arts advocacy event connects artists, educators, administrators, volunteers and trustees with lawmakers from every legislative district in Maryland. Maryland Arts Day needs your participation to show strong support for the arts in Maryland and its impact on the economic and cultural vitality of the state.

Where is Maryland Arts Day?

Maryland Arts Day will return in person to St. John’s College in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium, located at 60 College Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401.

What do I do at Maryland Arts Day?

At Maryland Arts Day, you spend the day networking with colleagues from around the state, all while learning about the arts advocacy process. After a networking breakfast, participants will gather for the morning session which includes greetings from lawmakers, presentation of the Sue Hess Legacy Arts Advocate of the Year Award, a keynote speech, and a state budget overview. After all of this great information, we will prep you with talking points and best practices for meetings with your legislators.

During the next portion of the day, you will be meeting with YOUR legislators and their staff in their offices in the council. Guided by county arts council directors representing your district, you will have an opportunity to tell legislators about the importance of the arts in Maryland and specific impacts the arts have in your community. 

What are three things that I can expect to get from Maryland Arts Day if I attend? 

  1. Networking, networking, networking! Network with your fellow arts advocates and legislators from across the state.
  2. Learn lots of facts about the impact of the arts in our state and about this year’s state budget for the arts.
  3. Strategize and plan with experienced arts advocates about making a strong case in support of funding for the arts in Maryland.


8:00AM Check In and Networking Breakfast

9:00AM Opening & Welcome

9:10AM Elected Official Addresses 

9:30AM Sue Hess Arts Advocate of the Year Award Presentation

10:00AM Keynote Address by Ruby Lopez Harper

10:35PM Brief Budget Overview by Nicholas Cohen, MCA

10:45AM Dismissal for legislative office visits

11:30AM-12:30PM Legislative Office Visits

12:00PM-2:00PM Lunch Pick-up

Keynote Speaker -Ruby Lopez Harper

Mexican, Mother, Wife, Dancer, Fiber artist, Photographer, Poet and Social Justice Warrior. Ruby is the Executive Director of the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+). Ruby’s work has included external equity strategies and field education, leadership development, local arts advancement, and cohort building for the local arts agency field, arts and culture administrators, and arts marketers. Ruby’s background includes experience in supporting individual artists, community development, economic development, cultural tourism, and public art. She draws on a varied background that includes corporate affairs, community relations, volunteerism, employee engagement, marketing and communications, and business administration. She is an Adjunct Professor with George Mason University, and currently advises with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums and the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective. She has consulted with numerous local, state, regional and national organizations on grantmaking, operationalizing equitable practices, and developing leadership and cohort programming and capacity building initiatives.

She was appointed to the Maryland State Arts Council in 2023 by Governor Wes Moore, and serves as Advocacy Chair on the board for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. She was selected for the 2021 BIPOC Leadership Circle Cohort with Artequity. She was a 2019 Arizona State University Practices for Change Fellow. She was recognized as a 2019 Inspirational Woman (Arts Advocate) by “And I Thought” Women in Literature. She is a steering committee member for the National Coalition on Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response, serves on Aha Creative board and WETA/PBS Community Advisory Council.

She is a 2017 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Advocacy Leadership Institute Fellow, Class of 2017 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni and Class of 2010 Next Generation of Leaders Fellowship program. She served as Chair of the Robert E. Gard Foundation, on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts, was the primary contact for the Arts and Economic Impact Study for Central Ohio and served as a mentor with Arts Administrators of Color Network. 

Sue Hess Awardee- Lorna Green

Lorna Green is the Founder and CEO of the Cultural Academy for Excellence, Inc., (CAFE) a non-profit arts-in-education organization established in Prince George’s County in 1996.  Born on the twin island nation of Trinidad & Tobago, Green migrated to New York where she met her future husband, Joseph. After moving to Maryland, and while raising their three children, Green noticed the dearth of arts programming available to public school students, a deficiency especially widespread in underserved communities.

In the vibrant cultural milieu of Trinidad & Tobago, Green experienced the dynamic impact of arts-immersion programs on marginalized children. She was especially impressed at how adolescents from poor and working-class families “took” to the steelpan, aka, “pan”.  Seeing juveniles willingly spend countless hours honing musical skills and using this instrument as a means of artistic expression, gave Green the vision to start a music program for students from K-12.

Green recruited world class pan experts to work with CAFE students, teaching music theory and training players to perform a wide array of genres on the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century.  Green required students to also participate in academic tutoring sessions, and achieve passing grades in school, to continue in the music program. Her goal of using arts to boost self-confidence and scholastic achievement has produced results, with 90% of students graduating from high school, and 90% attending college.

Green is a proponent of artistic exchanges with foreign students and has facilitated young musicians’ trips to Maryland.  CAFE students have performed in Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, and Senegal, and at local venues, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Widely recognized for her activism for arts education on behalf of underserved children, Green was designated “Washingtonian of the Year – 2007” by Washingtonian Magazine.

Talking Points

MCA Talking Points for the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Session:

  • Please support fully funding the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) at the mandated level of $31 million
  • Please support fully funding  the Arts and Culture Capital Grant Program at $3 million
  • Please transfer the funds from the Preservation of Cultural Arts to MSAC
  • Please vote yes on SB 764 – a bill to establish an arts incubator workgroup.


Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS)

  • As Maryland’s statewide arts education advocacy organization, AEMS is committed to ensuring that all Maryland public school students have access to high quality arts education by mobilizing power to communities through professional development, leadership development, advocacy programs, and resource building and sharing.

County Arts Agencies of Maryland(CAAM)

  • CAAM is a non-profit statewide assembly of Arts Councils established to: foster, promote, and develop skills and articulate the needs of the arts communities in Maryland. CAAM works in cooperation with the MSAC and MCA for increased artistic opportunities for all Maryland artists, arts organizations, and citizens.

Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA)

  • GBCA exists as a catalyst to create a cohesive cultural community that strengthens the livability and economic vitality of the Greater Baltimore region. Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance serves arts organizations, coalitions and individual artists by: being a unifying voice and bridge builder; acting as a convener; providing information and services.

Maryland Nonprofits (MANO)

  • MANO works to promote a thriving and effective nonprofit sector. Through their nationally acclaimed Standards for Excellence program, education, resources, and consulting, they help build strong organizations at every stage of the lifecycle, from start-up to growth to peak performance and renewal. MANO leads public policy advocacy, raising the collective voice for needed investments, governmental transparency, and community empowerment.

Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC)

  • MSAC is an agency of the State of Maryland, under the authority of the Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts. Since it was established in 1967, the purpose of the Council has been “to create a nurturing climate for the arts in the State” as stated in its founding legislation. To carry out its mission, MSAC awards grants to not-for-profit, tax-exempt organizations for ongoing arts programming and arts projects. MSAC awards grants to individual artists, and provides technical and advisory assistance to individuals and groups. The Council also carries out programs of its own to enhance the cultural life of the residents of Maryland.

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (MDVLA)

  • MDVLA is a nonprofit service organization dedicated to protecting Maryland artists’ legal rights through low cost and pro bono legal referrals and education to artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Their lawyers take on cases for artists as they would for any client. They strive to help artists and organizations overcome legal barriers that limit their ability to create, distribute, or profit from their creativity. MDVLA, along with PNC Bank, team up with MCA to bring free workshops on legal and financial literacy for artists throughout the state, such as the Mind Your Business workshop.