Good evening. Welcome to our annual “Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Awards” program.
This truly is one of my favorite events, because I can stand here in this magnificent facility and pay tribute to some remarkable talented people and organizations.
It truly is an honor for Catherine and me to recognize those who have engaged in the “heavy lifting” to advance the arts and humanities and – yes -- to be entertained.
Nearly all of us are drawn into the arts and music from our childhood – with paints and paper and string, bells and drums, and make-believe.
Some of us may carry it with us even today, as a hobby, or we become consumers, patrons, or customers of the arts.
And, of course, for some of us it is our means of making a living. Those of us who truly appreciate Arts in this manner are like Michelangelo, who once explained: “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.”
I do not believe that there is a better way of explaining artistic creativity.
I want to congratulate all the individuals and groups who are honored here tonight. You have given -- and continue to give -- so much of yourselves to enrich every man, woman, and child in this great County.
Throughout my many years of public service, I have supported public investment in the arts and humanities. I have been honored to do so for the past five years as County Executive. Despite significant fiscal challenges, due to the economic downturn, Montgomery County maintains its ongoing commitment to – and investment in – the arts and humanities.
When you think about it, an investment in the arts is good business -- creating jobs, stimulating economic activity that helps our restaurants, our retailers, and our service industry.
But, as I’ve said before, it is so much more than just dollars and cents.
Through the arts and humanities – in their many varied forms -- we laugh, we cry, we are inspired, we get angry, we give thanks to our Creator, we question the world around us and examine everything within it. We showcase our diversity – in all its many varied forms – and we come to understand that, despite our differences, there is a sameness we all share.
As your County Executive, I will continue to support the arts in Montgomery County. This is a major priority for me. And I know it is with our County Council as well. And we must not forget that much of what we have accomplished thus far has been made possible by a notable combination of private support – including corporations, foundations and individuals.
To all of our private sector partners, I want to send a special “thank you.” I know you are facing difficult decisions in your own operations and have to make hard choices. Thank you for continuing to support the arts and humanities here in Montgomery County.
To our audience, Catherine and I want to thank all of you for joining us here this evening to pay tribute – not only to this year’s Excellence in the Arts and Humanities’ award winners – but also to recognize the valuable contributions that the arts and humanities make to our County’s quality of life.