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Archives for February 2017 | FIR Productions

Leslie Prince Raimond and John Schratwieser on Arts Council Transition and Saving the Fine Arts Building

The Chestertown Spy February 27, 2017 by Dave Wheelan

There will be a very important transition taking place in Chestertown at the stroke of midnight or thereabouts on December 31, 2017. A significant changing of the guards at the Kent County Arts Council will happen when Director Leslie Prince Raimond will formally step down and turn the organization over to her successor, John Schratwieser.

If this were just a time to celebrate Leslie’s achievements during her tenure in promoting the arts, it would be reason alone to justify a major community celebration of gratitude. But, in many ways, that is only half the story.

For it was Leslie, and her late husband, Vince, that were directly responsible for the creation of the Kent County Arts Council thirty-five years ago. And during their time at the wheel, this county saw an explosion of art creation and performance in the visual arts, community theater, music, poetry, dance, and creative writing. It was the combined forces of the Raimond family that have has lead to the region to an unprecedented level of maturity in arts programming to make it one of the Mid-Atlantic’s “go-to” rural arts scenes.

So it was for that very reason that the Spy was all the more eager to talk to Leslie and John about this important transition, and just as importantly, how they plan to use it as an opportunity to bring back the Fine Arts Building on Spring Street as a hub for the arts in Kent County and over time create studio space for local and visiting artists.



“Songs For Our Future” Concert to Highlight Clean Energy & Climate Change March 3 & 5, 2017

“Songs For Our Future” Concert to Highlight Clean Energy & Climate Change March 3 & 5, 2017

“Songs For Our Future” is pleased to announce that we have added a second show for the next performance in our Songs for Our Future series, a Concert to Highlight Climate Change & Clean Energy. In addition to the show originally planned for Friday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m., we are adding a show on Sunday, March 5 at 3:00 p.m. with all the same music and special guests.

The Pam Ortiz Band with Special Guests: Meredith Davies Hadaway, Celtic harp, poetry Andrew McCown, outdoor educator & storyteller Robert Earl Price, poet Jeff Davis, bass

Friday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 5 at 3:00 p.m. [2nd Show Just Added!] Robert Ortiz Studios
207C S. Cross St. Chestertown, MD

$15 suggested donation ($10 students). Reserve seats for all upcoming shows via EventBrite. All donations will be taken at the door. If your plans change, please return to the site to cancel your reservations to accommodate someone on the waiting list.



All proceeds will benefit 350.org.  350.org is building a global grassroots climate movement that can hold leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice.  350.org was founded by a group of university friends in the U.S. along with author Bill McKibben, who wrote one of the first books on global warming for the general public. Today, 350.org works in almost every country in the world on campaigns like fighting coal power plants in India, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S, and divesting public institutions everywhere from fossil fuels. All of their work leverages people power to dismantle the influence and infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry, and to develop people-centric solutions to the climate crisis.


350.org is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Your donation is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
The first two shows in this series were sold out, standing-room only events. They concert series raised $2,775 at the February concert to support the work of the National Immigration Law Center to protect the immigrant community.



12th Annual Women Helping Women Concert Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Please join us for 12th Annual Women Helping Women at the Garfiled Center for the Arts on March 15, 2017 at 7:00 PM – 10:00 pm. The theme for this year’s concert is SHINE A LIGHT!  This concert always sells out! Please purchase tickets EARLY!

Performers: Lester Barrett, Jr. • Sydney Berna • Maddie Berna • Meredith Davies Hadaway • Nevin Dawson • Barbara Ferris • Sylvia Frazier • Jen Friedman • Rebekah Hardy Hock • Joe Holt • Beth Anne Langrell • Jodie Littleton • Sue Matthews • Beth McDonald • Melissa McGlynn • Tom McHugh • Jerome McKinney • Bob Ortiz • Pam Ortiz • Barbara Parker • Caitlin Patton • Mary Phelps • John Schratwieser • Nina Sharp • Mary Simmons • Karen Somerville

Those of you who have been with us for the entire journey of WHW know how far we’ve come. The concert is a joyful celebration for our performers and the audience too. The clinic has a core group of “Angels” who provide for Maria both financially and with hands on assistance.

The Garfield Family welcomes us with open arms and invaluable support each year. Francoise Sullivan of Moo Productions continues to manage our Facebook page and the website for Women Helping Women. Sue Matthews and Joe Holt go above and beyond guiding the production to the stage.

This year, in addition to our fundraising efforts for the Marydel free clinic, Maria wanted to reach out to our local community and SHINE A LIGHT on a serious public health issue – the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic – devastating our families on the Eastern Shore. Since 1986, For All Seasons has provided mental health treatment and crisis services to men, women, children and families in the five counties of the Mid-Shore (Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline, Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties) regardless of one’s ability to pay. For All Seasons recently announced a new partnership with Dr. Eric Ciganek and Corsica River Substance Use Disorder Services in their Chestertown office – providing mental health, substance use disorder and Medication Assisted Treatment. Funds raised by WHW will help provide services to community members regardless of their ability to pay.

Women Helping Women is a private account created solely for the collection of funds for this event. 100% of donations and 80% of ticket sales used for Dr. Boria’s Marydel Clinic and a portion for For All Seasons, Inc.

If you are unable to attend, please consider a donation. For donations please make your checks payable to: Women Helping Women 203 High Street, Unit 2, Chestertown, MD 21620

7th Annual Empty Bowls Monday, March 27, 2017

RiverArts’ Clay Studio potters are busy creating bowls for the 7th Annual Empty Bowls, Monday, March 27, at the Garfield Center for the Arts in Chestertown. This popular community event, a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world, raises funds for the Kent County Food Pantry.

For the price of a $25 ticket, $10 for students with ID, guests will enjoy a meal of soup, bread and dessert in a keepsake handmade pottery bowl. Entertainment will be provided by the Chestertown Ukulele Club.

The event is hosted by the RiverArts’ Clay Studio, and The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre. Sponsors include Bookplate, Kent County Arts Council, Mimi’s Closet and Massoniart.

Reservations are required. There are two seatings, 5 pm and 6:30 pm. For tickets please call the Garfield Center box office at 410 810 2060, or purchase online.

Are we settling for ‘dumbed down’ standards in our schools?

WASHINGTON, DC – “Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice.” That is the point of the Grateful American Book Prize, although we believe that it is good advice for girls as well as boys. However, it was Noah Webster who first put forth the notion in an essay written in 1788.

Yet, the sad fact is that only a mere 12 percent of U.S. High School Seniors are proficient in U.S. History, according to The National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“We established the Prize in 2015 because Dr. Bruce Cole, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and I were deeply concerned by the lack of knowledge among America’s youth about the history of our country. Time and again authoritative reports were showing that in many cases middle school and high school students alike were unable to recall the simplest facts. Many could not identify the first president of the United States. Some did not know who Abraham Lincoln was, let alone that his Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves,” says David Bruce Smith who co-founded the Grateful American Book Prize with Dr. Cole.

Now comes news that so-called improvements in education and graduation rates across the country may have been “artificially propped up by dumbed down standards,” according to a recent article in a journal published by Intellectual Takeout, a non-profit organization promoting education.

“That suspicion was affirmed over the weekend when Tennessee announced that many of its graduates had not fulfilled a number of the requirements for the diploma they received. And it wasn’t just a handful, either. Fully one-third of Tennessee graduates had not completed all the required course work for a high school degree,” wrote Annie Holmquist, a senior writer at Intellectual Takeout

She pointed out in her article that the deficiencies included, in particular, history. “If Tennessee is a microcosm of what’s happening in the other 49 states, then perhaps this explains why only 12 percent of seniors are proficient in U.S. history and only 24 percent are proficient in civics. If school administrators are turning a blind eye and passing students through school without requiring them to take these subjects, then it’s no wonder students know so little about their nation and how it works.”

Smith agrees. He notes that “numerous scholars over the years have proved that in order to be a good citizen, a knowledge of history is required. In other words, we learn how to fulfill our responsibilities as citizens from the events and personalities who shaped our nation.”

Conceding that history class can be boring at times, he says the rationale for the Prize was to encourage new and established authors and their publishers to produce works of historically accurate fiction and nonfiction that make history come to life for young learners.

“We encourage parents and grandparents to actively encourage children to become lovers of history by providing them with such books. Many educators will tell you that giving your kids good reads that capture their imaginations is a smart way to learn their history lessons.”

March 2017 Book Recommendations

John Mills’s, STONER;  a lonely World War I era farm boy defies his parents, and becomes a professor with dreams that never happen.

Christina Baker Kline’s, ORPHAN TRAIN; A foster teenager and a well-off elderly widow discover poignant similarities in their pasts.

Erica Jong’s, FEAR OF DYING; forty years after Fear of Flying, Isadora Wing and her alter-egos stare down aging and mortality.

Carrie Fisher’s, THE PRINCESS DIARIST; the actress’s life in London, before and after Harrison Ford and Star Wars.

March 2017 Book Recommendations

Chester Gras – Saturday Feb 25, 2017

Chestertown’s annual family friendly Mardi Gras celebration raises money for our Community Food Pantry Backpack Program. Saturday Feb 25, 2017 at 12noon to 4pm on High Street in Chestertown, MD. Parade at 1pm.

Look for the large heated tents on High Street near People’s Bank, where you’ll find multiple delicious homemade gumbos, hot dogs, King Cake, hot chocolate, coffee and cookies. Enoy dancing to live music by Phil Dutton and the Alligators, face painting and other children’s activities. KidSpot will offer free mask making for kids to wear in our parade at 1 PM. Fun new activities and offerings this year will include dance lessons, costume contest, live auction and a photobooth.