Bershon Appointed to Maryland State Arts Council

Barbara Bershon has been appointed to the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). (Submitted photo)
ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. (Oct. 14, 2008)—Governor Martin O'Malley recently announced the appointment of Barbara Bershon to the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). Bershon, executive director of the River Concert Series at St. Mary's College of Maryland, was appointed by the governor and legislature to an inaugural three-year term.

"The caliber and experience of Barbara Bershon, together with the vision and capacity of our leadership team, will ensure that accessibility, artistic excellence, and diversity are hallmarks of Maryland's arts community," said O'Malley. "We are inspired and grateful for her commitment to serve this vibrant sector."

"I'm honored to be appointed as a councilor to the MSAC, and to have the opportunity to represent Southern Maryland on the Arts Council," said Bershon. "There are four major issues that I'd like to address as a councilor," she added. These include increasing access to the arts; creating a marketing plan to make Maryland an arts destination; developing regional film location offices; and providing a way for major musical artists to perform in venues outside of metropolitan areas.

An agency of the Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), MSAC councilors serve as advocates for the arts and help ensure that they thrive in all forms in every region of the state by encouraging artists and organizations to participate in grant, promotion, and technical assistance programs. The 17-member governing panel guides the operation of the Arts Council in conjunction with the Council's professional staff.

Bershon has served as the executive director of the River Concert Series since 2003, as well as a psychology professor at SMCM. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Maryland. She is past president of the St. Mary's County Arts Council. Bershon recently published "Tales of Teenage Survival: Former Teens Recount Their Adolescence and Lived to Tell about It" (iUniverse, Inc., 2007). She moved to St. Mary's County 12 years ago from Chevy Chase, Maryland, and now resides in Leonardtown, Maryland.

The mission of the MSAC is to encourage and invest in the advancement of the arts for the people of Maryland by supporting artists and arts organizations in their pursuit of artistic excellence; ensuring accessibility of the arts to all citizens; and by promoting statewide awareness of arts resources and opportunities. A DBED economic impact study showed that 14 million people attended state-funded arts events during the 2007 fiscal year. More than 15,000 Marylanders are employed in nonprofit arts organizations, a $1.2 billion industry for the state.

The River Concert Series' goal is to provide the citizens of Southern Maryland with high-quality, professional performances throughout the summer. The series aims to enrich the cultural offerings of the region and assist in economically enhancing it and cultivating a cultural tourist destination. In 1999, SMCM initiated the River Concert Series. Since then, SMCM has sought to provide musical programming to reach the broadest possible audience. The River Concert Series has become the cornerstone of growing arts activities at SMCM and throughout St. Mary's County. The Friday evening open-air concerts draw 3,000 to 5,000 people each week to the SMCM campus in June and July.

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