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BSO OrchKids gets $1M donation

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's (BSO) OrchKids program received the best Christmas present ever. Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker will make a leadership gift of $1 million to the BSO's music education and life-enrichment program for kids.

The gift provides essential seed capital to support 50 percent of the OrchKids' incremental expenses as it expands over the next four academic years (years 2-5 of the program). These expenses include hiring additional instructors, purchasing supplies and instruments and adding one full-time administrative position to oversee the program as it grows to more than 300 students over the next four

Inspired by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop's artistic leadership and community vision, OrchKids is a year-round after-school program that provides music education, instruments, tutoring and mentorship to youth in Baltimore City at no cost to participants or the school. Launched in Fall 2008, the program served 30 first-grade students from Harriett Tubman Elementary School in its pilot year (2008-2009).

The school's closure at the end of the school year brought the program and the majority of the students enrolled in the program to OrchKids' new home, Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, also located in West Baltimore. In its second year, the program has grown to serve more than 150 pre-K through second grade students, both during the school day two days each week and after-school four days a week.

Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker have been involved in OrchKids since its early planning stages. They were among several community members who stepped forward to match Marin Alsop's initial founding contribution of $100,000. "The growth of the OrchKids program would not be possible without this visionary gift from Bob and Rheda," says BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham. "It is a huge vote of confidence in the remarkable progress already shown by the young students, whom they have come to know and love. Their gift, covering approximately 50 percent of the cost of the program over the next four years, will hopefully inspire others to help make a real difference in these children's lives."
"I have, for many years, been interested in providing educational opportunities to the underserved population," explains Meyerhoff. "The Meyerhoff Scholar Program at UMBC provides the opportunity to study and earn advanced degrees in Math and Science. The OrchKids project is focused on this same population in the beginning of their educational life. We're hoping to make a big difference there so that they can learn skills such as working with a team to produce something so beautiful and joyous as music. Rheda's longstanding relationship with the BSO and her interest in education makes us the happiest of partners in the OrchKids program."

Source: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore City launches screenwriting competition

In an effort to boost the profile of Baltimore's screenwriters, The Baltimore Film Office, in conjunction with Morgan State University's Film and Television Writing Program, and Johns Hopkins' Film and Media Studies Program  has launched a search for aspiring film writers for itsfifth annual Baltimore Screenwriters Competition

Designed to create awareness of screenplays as a literary art form and to encourage new screenwriters into the entertainment industry the contest offers applicants the opportunity to win prizes including cash and all access passes to the Maryland Film Festival.

Early submission begins Thursday, October 1 through Monday, November 30, 2009 with a $35 application fee. The final deadline is Friday, January 29, 2010 with a $50 application fee.

Writers interested in participating in the contest can submit applications and original feature length screenplays that must be set in or around Baltimore. Materials can be mailed or delivered to the Baltimore Film Office, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, 7 East Redwood Street, Suite 500, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. The Baltimore Screenwriting Competition is a project of Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and sponsored by Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore (MECU), Maryland Film Festival, NEXTCAR and Visit Baltimore.

All eligible scripts will receive coverage by local screenwriters. Additionally, film industry professionals will judge final scripts. Participating judges will be announced at a later date. Competition winners will be announced during the Maryland Film Festival on May 6-9, 2010.

To download the 2010 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition application, visit Baltimore Film or call 410-752-8632.

Source: Baltimore Film Office
Writer: Walaika Haskins

New $500K grants program from City and NEA seeks to help artists keep their jobs

In an effort to assist with job retention for members of Baltimore's cultural community, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA) are seeking applications for the new National Endowment for the Arts/Baltimore City Job Retention Grant.

Funded by a $250,000 award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and matched by Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore City Council, the grant program offers $5,000 to $25,000 to support full-time, part-time or contractual positions in the arts.

Non-profit 501(c)3 cultural organizations serving the Baltimore City community that have not received economic stimulus awards through the Maryland State Arts Council, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation or directly through the NEA are eligible to apply.

Applications or the grants are available at the BOPAwebsite. The deadline for applications is Friday, September 25, 2009.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Baltimore Office of Promotions and the Arts
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