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Gov. Martin O'Malley joins (l to r) Tonya Fitzpatrick, a travel writer for; Margot Ameilia, executive director of the Maryland Tourism Office; and Margaret Horton Edsall, from the Annapolis Capital, at the Governor's Buy-Local Challenge Picnic in Annapolis, July 18. The Tourism Office partnered with the Department of Agriculture to provide impetus for Maryland's Buy Local campaign. (story below)


Arts Council awards grants to save jobs in nonprofit arts sector

The Maryland State Arts Council recently awarded $306,050 in federal grants to 29 Maryland arts organizations in an effort to preserve jobs.

The source of funds was the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). NEA had received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 – then funneled money into Maryland's program for saving jobs in the nonprofit arts sector. NEA also awarded $600,000 in ARRA grants directly to 10 Maryland arts organizations.

"These funds are critical to sustaining Maryland's creative economy during this time of unprecedented fiscal challenges," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "Through the Maryland Arts Employment Stabilization program, 40 jobs in Maryland's arts community will be saved or retained, ensuring that our valued arts organizations have the support and resources they need for continued growth."

Maryland arts organizations that had received funding through the Arts Council's Grants for Organizations, Community Arts Development and ARTvantage programs during fiscal year 2009 were eligible to apply to the Arts Council for employment stabilization grants. A total of 95 applicants in 20 counties had requested a total of $1.6 million.

Governor conveys support for Tubman park to Senate

Gov. Martin O'Malley reaffirmed his support for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in a July 15 statement to the U.S. Senate subcommittee that is considering the issue.

"The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park will play a critical role in developing an authentic and sustainable tourism experience in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot counties in Maryland," Gov. O'Malley said. "The center will memorialize the struggles and triumphs of a truly remarkable woman, while the protected landscapes will allow visitors to travel in the footsteps of her journey and hear history interpreted through volunteers, and professionals from the National and Maryland Park Services."

The Harriet Tubman Discovery Center, a focal point of Maryland's planned Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, is expected to draw 50,000 to 75,000 annual visitors.

Federal legislation was introduced earlier this year to create National Historical Parks focused on Tubman in Maryland and Auburn, New York. The bill enables the federal government to include the Tubman state park in the proposed national park, allowing the National Park Service to co-manage it with the state of Maryland.

The Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Business and Economic Development, along with Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties, are developing the project. Officials at the Maryland Tourism Office expect the visitor center to open by 2013.

European football match set for sold-out Ravens stadium

The Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank Stadium will host a sold-out World Football Challenge match between two of Europe's premier football teams – Chelsea and AC Milan – Friday evening, July 24. ESPN will broadcast the match.

"Working with our partners in the state, Baltimore City and the private sector to secure this event," said Gov. Martin O'Malley when the match was announced in the spring, "shows that our newly launched Sports Marketing Initiative is really positioning Maryland as a top-tier destination for the kinds of high-profile international sporting events that we want to attract."

The July 24 match is part of a six-city series in the U.S. In addition to Chelsea and AC Milan, two other teams – Inter Milan and Club America – are in the July 19-26 tournament, which brings European football to this country.


Media tour spotlights 'buy local' theme

The Tourism Office, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, hosted a "buy local"-themed media tour last week. Eight journalists participated in the two-day tour.

Participants learned about Maryland's seafood industry, as they motored along the Chesapeake Bay aboard Captain Ed O'Brien's charter boat, Semper Fidelis III. Later, they gathered at Abner's Crab House in Chesapeake Beach for a crab feast.

During the tour's second day, the journalists gained exposure to Maryland's agri-tourism industry. They visited Clark's Elioak Farm and Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant in Ellicott City, Schillinger's Farm in Severn, and Boordy Vineyards in northern Baltimore County.

The Governor's Buy-Local Challenge Picnic in Annapolis was also on the itinerary. This was the kick-off event for Maryland's Buy Local Challenge Week – when Marylanders are encouraged to have at least one homegrown food product each day.

Other partners for the tour included Calvert County Tourism, Howard County Tourism and Baltimore County Tourism. Hilton Garden Inn Arundel Mills provided lodging for some of the journalists.


Baltimore Community Foundation to arrange Kresge arts grants

The Kresge Foundation, a $3.1 billion private, national foundation based in Troy, Michigan, will invest $200,000 in Baltimore as part of a three-city test for using grants to transform neglected urban neighborhoods through arts and cultural projects. Kresge has designated the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) to administer Kresge Arts in Baltimore. Detroit and St. Louis are the other cities in this pilot program.

As intermediary for Kresge, BCF will award the grants – ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 – according to criteria that must include arts and cultural components, connections to community issues and neighborhood-resident participation.

The deadline for application proposals is Aug. 14. E-mail or call Melissa Warlow, a BCF program officer, 410-332-4172, ext. 150, for details. Applications are available at the BCF web site.


Tourism Monitor shows increase in tourism-tax revenue

The latest issue of the Maryland Tourism Monitor – the Tourism Office's monthly report measuring visitor activity, advertising response and state travel trends – is now available online.

The Monitor details fiscal year-to-date sales and use tax revenues, as reported through May by the Maryland Comptroller's Office. Tourism-related tax codes are performing twice as well as overall sales tax collections to date, increasing by 9.9 percent over last year's figures, compared to a 4.6 percent gain for all sales tax categories.

In addition, traffic to the Maryland tourism web site – – continues to climb. More than 245,000 unique visitors interacted with the site in May 2009 – compared to 144,054 in May 2008.


Watch artists compete in Eastern Shore contest
Visit the Plein Air-Easton! Competition and Arts Festival, a week-long event that runs through July 26. About 60 juried artists are convening in Easton for this fifth annual festival, which features exhibits, workshops, lectures, theater and music.

Show your product at Travel Show in August
The deadline for exhibitors to participate in the Maryland Tourism and Travel Show has been extended to July 27. Sponsored by the Maryland Tourism Council and Arundel Mills, the annual show is Aug. 28-30 at Arundel Mills.

Win a $100 VISA gift card
Provide your opinions about exhibits at a new state park on the Eastern Shore that honors the life of Harriet Tubman. The park will be located near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge.

Looking for a few good arts-grant panelists
The Maryland State Arts Council is recruiting potential grant-review panelists. Check the Arts Council web site for details. Nomination applications are due Aug. 7.


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