The 1977-78 cultural season in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties will bring an increase in funds, an improvement in facilities and expansion of programs, giving residents in both counties more opportunities during the coming year to enjoy the arts close to home.
The largest block of money from one federal source will be going into Prince George's County. The Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) will provide $300,000 for the arts, said Ellen Pierce of the department of parks and recreation, which will administer the projects. Two of the projects will be programs for dancers-in-residence and artists-in-residence, said Pierce.
In Montgomery County, Street 70, the county's only professional theater company, is scheduled to move into its own home in the fall. The Round House at 12210 Bushey Dr., Wheaton, will be the first public theater to house a year-round, professional company in the state of Maryland, according to the company's director, June Allen.
Spring 1978 is the anticipated date for the groundbreaking of a new arts center in Laurel, according to Betty Valenti of the arts division in Prince George's County. To be located on the Montpelier estate on Route 197, the center, said Valenti, will include rental spaces for artists, classrooms and a large gallery space which will double as a small concert hall.
Last February the Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Rd., Bladensburg, opened as a center for the arts in Prince George's County. Since that opening the playhouse has been steadily improving its facilities, said director Doug Herbert.
During the summer, dressing rooms and a green room were added, according to Herbert.
On Nov. 18 and 19 the Friends of the Publick Playhouse will sponsor at the playhouse as a fund-raising event the Washington area debut of the New York Dance Quintet. Proceeds will be used to provide a dance floor for the playhouse, said Herbert.
This first full season of the playhouse will include a number of dance presentations, Herbert said. Ballet Concert Theater, which is based in Bowie, will open the fall program with a musical, "The Boyfriend," on Sept. 10 and 11.
Maryland Dance Theater, which opened the playhouse last winter, will return the first week in December for a series of performances. Located in College Park, the group is the state's only professional modern dance company.
According to director Larry Warren, the company has received a development grant from the Maryland Arts Council. Repertory for the new season, said Warren, will contain several area premieres, including works by Bertram Ross and Dan Wagoner.
Prince George's Little Theater, based in New Carrollton, will present its entire season of four plays at the Publick Playhouse. The opening play, "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," on Oct. 7, will mark this 17-year-old group's first appearance at the playhouse.
With an average age of close to 20 years, community theaters in both Prince George's and Montgomery counties have a strong record of survival.
Entering its 48th season, Montgomery Players is the oldest continuously performing community theater in the Washington area, according to Faye Jacobs, a member of the company. On Sept. 9 the company starts its fifth year in its own home at 1201 Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg.
The coming musical season will again include two chamber music series. The Jewish Community Center's Artists of Excellence series, now entering its sixth year, will for the first time be operating under a permanent endowment recently established by the Gerry and Howard Polinger Concert Fund.
Included in the six-concert series will be the American debut of the Camerata Orchestra of Salzburg under Antonio Janigro on Jan. 15.
The University Community Concerts at the University of Maryland's Adult Education Center auditorium will begin a second year on Oct. 9 with the only Washington area appearance of the season by the Guarneri string quartet.
This season Prince George's County will have two symphony orchestras as the result of a dispute last spring between the board of directors of the Prince George's Symphonic Association and Emerson Head, conductor of the orchestra for eight of the 12 years of its existence.
Head and most of his former orchestra's players have re-grouped under a new name, the Prince George's Philharmonic.
The Prince George's Symphony Orchestra will be performing with a new roster of players under a new director, Bruce Steeg. Steeg said that he sees no problem in the emergence of two orchestras within the county.
Each of the two orchestras will be giving a series of free concerts in the Queen Anne Fine Arts Auditorium at Prine George's Community College.
The Prince George's Civic Opera, formed seven years ago, will this year present its first season of three full performances, said director Rosemary Steeg. In addition to its annual tour of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the company will present "The Mikado" in November and stage the Washington premiere of an early work in April.
The Plum Gallery, formerly known as the Private Gallery, 3762 Howard Ave., Kensington, will begin its fourth season with a show by William Calfee on Sept. 16. This exhibition will be Calfee's first show of the coming season in the Washington area, an honor, said one of the directors, Paula Locker, usually accorded to galleries in the city.
Calfee, said Locker, has played an important role in the growth of art in the area. He was chairman of the art department at American University, creator of the Watkins Gallery and co-founder of the Jefferson Place Gallery in D.C.
Also in Kensington at 10419 Armory Ave., the A.D. Smull gallery, the only private gallery in the Maryland area devoted exclusively to fibers, will enter its second year. Owner-director Andrea Dreisen Smull said that "in celebration of survival" she is adding some light-hearted shows to this season.
The first exhibit, opening Sept. 7, is entitled "Parts of the Body in Fiber." Smull said it includes "an array of fanciful hearts, brains, torsos and eyeballs created by nine local fiber artists."
All community arts groups are concerned about making their activities known to the public. On Sept. 1 the arts division of Prince George's department of parks and recreation is introducing the first arts line in the state of Maryland. By dialing 277-ARTS members of the public will be able to hear a weekly calendar of arts events taking place in the county.