By: David Froom and Maryland State Arts Council

The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce, announced today that $290,000 has been awarded to 50 Maryland artists through the 2020 Independent Artist Awards (IAA). With awards this year focused on performing arts, 2020 awardees represent a diverse range of artistic talent from across the state – from puppeteers and choreographers to a set designer and a highland bagpiper.  

“The arts play an important role in our communities and in our lives, now more than ever. As an artist myself, I know that these awards will help support and strengthen our artists to continue to uplift everyone in our state with their creative spirit,” said First Lady Yumi Hogan. “I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all awardees and thank them for their incredible talent and significant contributions to making Maryland an outstanding place for the arts.” 

Photograph of Alex and Olmsted courtesy of Sean Dennie Photography

Following statewide listening sessions and a public revision process, the IAA program was redesigned this year to encourage statewide participation, yield more diverse pools of applicants and awardees, and recognize the work of individual artists as well as artists working in collaboration. This year’s awardees were chosen from a pool of over 250 applicants through a process that included the review of applications by multidisciplinary panels of artists and practitioners for regional and statewide awards. See the full list of awarded artists below. 

St. Mary’s College alumna Rie Moore ’19 and Professor of Music David Froom have each been awarded Maryland Individual Artist Awards. They were among the 50 award winners (the only two from St. Mary’s County) chosen from more than 250 applicants. Moore was awarded for “promise and innovation” in piano performance, Froom for “notable artistic achievement” in musical composition.

In addition to the recognition, awardees receive grants to support their continued artistic growth. The 48 regional awardees will receive grants of either $2,000 to recognize promise and innovation or $10,000 to recognize notable artistic achievement. Two state awardees will receive grants of $25,000 to recognize outstanding artistic achievement.  

Photograph of Bamboo and Rain courtesy of Allen Chunhui Xing

“This is undeniably encouraging, to say the least,” said Sarah Olmsted Thomas of the State IAA winning collaborative group Alex and Olmsted. “The timing of this news is also quite powerful for us: we have had several months of scheduled performances canceled in recent weeks due to the coronavirus. We cannot wait to invest this award into our many plans for future shows, creations, company growth, and new forms of sustained practice. We are proud Marylanders and feel deeply honored to be recognized by the Maryland State Arts Council.” 

Awardees will be highlighted on MSAC’s social media (@mdartscouncil) beginning in July and will be honored during a ceremony to be planned once the COVID-19 State of Emergency is lifted.  In 2021, the IAA program will recognize artists in the visual arts, and in 2022 awards will highlight the literary arts. Applications for 2021 awards will be accepted beginning in June with a deadline of July 24, 2020. For more information, please visit our website at . 

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...