ANNAPOLIS -- In a turnout that legislators called uncommon, about 600 artists, musicians, dancers and other supporters of the arts converged on the capital last week in a daylong lobbying campaign for the proposed 11 percent increase in the state arts budget.

Most legislators, who appeared sympathetic to artists' funding difficulties, told the fledgling lobbyists that Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposal for $6.2 million in arts financing would likely pass without cuts.

"I listen more closely when it's a private citizen, or someone from my district, than when it's a professional lobbyist," said Del. Anne MacKinnon (D-Prince George's). "They're taking their own time to come up here. It's not like it's their job."

If nothing else, however, it was the crowd itself that drew representatives' attention.

"Everybody was surprised at the large number of people who came down," said Del. Pauline H. Menes (D-Prince George's), who is a member of the Maryland State Arts Council, which awards state funds to individuals, groups and county arts councils. "A lot of delegates used to take the level of support for the arts with a grain of salt, as if this was just a small, unusual group of people. They can't think that way now."

"Even delegates who didn't see anyone got the message that Annapolis was alive with arts people," said Maryland State Arts Council Chairman K. Rita Souweine of Bowie. "They're impressed if 100 people show up."

Artists-turned-lobbyists said they were surprised at the effect of their efforts.

"Meeting some of these people, I realized that your delegates really are accessible," said Oona Edinger, manager of a drama/dance group at the University of Maryland called Improvisations Unlimited. "I never realized you could just go and knock on their doors."

In the morning, the ebullient group attended a how-to session with tips from professional lobbyists. During that session, a Howard County arts group hoisted a placard that read "Grease the Arts Palm." At lunchtime, the crowd of artists did a quick-change into their lobbyist routine and went out to test their new-found political skills.

The effect, according to many from Prince George's, Montgomery and Howard counties, was unexpectedly invigorating.

"I would never in a million years have thought of doing something like this," said Sue Pierce, a fiber artist from Rockville. "But now I see lobbying not so much as a clamoring to get what you want but a sharing of information about what you do."

Corrine Hayward of the Glen Echo Park Foundation said the reception she got from Del. Henry B. Heller (D-Montgomery) was welcoming enough that she forgot her nervousness and was able to proceed with her pitch.

"I told him I was from Glen Echo Park, and he said, 'Oh! I used to be manager of the Crystal Pool!' " Hayward said. "It was like coming home. I feel like 90 percent of our job here is done."

Prince George's Philharmonic Manager Gailyn Gwynn had her lines prepared in advance of meeting with delegates. "I'm going to emphasize that the arts in our lives are a necessity," she said. "They're not the icing on the cake, they're the batter. The arts feed our souls."

Later, Gwynn said she spent most of her lobbying time talking with Del. Gary Alexander (D-Prince George's) about how to spread state arts funding out from Baltimore, a topic that was as much on the minds of arts supporters from the Washington metropolitan area as was the budgetary increase.

"That's a longtime rallying cry from Montgomery and Prince George's," said Eliot Pfanstiehl, managing director of Strathmore Hall arts center in Rockville and a panelist on the state arts council. "Part of that used to be our fault {in the county}. We didn't have a significant number of grant requests going in."

Pfanstiehl noted that, traditionally, more money has gone to Baltimore in part because some of the state's largest arts organizations are there, such as the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Gallery of Art and the Baltimore Symphony. In 1987, the state arts council awarded Baltimore City $1.5 million and Baltimore County $41,000. Montgomery County received $263,348; Prince George's, $136,365, and Howard County, $25,110.

"Prince George's really gets caught in the crunch," Gwynn said. "We compete with Baltimore for our funding and with Washington for our audience."

But Pfanstiehl says that Baltimore's dominance of state arts funding may be on the wane as Washington area groups exert more influence.

"I really don't think that {Baltimore dominates} anymore," Pfanstiehl said. "The arts council panelists are eminently fair, and the old-boy network is fading."

Pfanstiehl said the $645,000 increase in Schaefer's fiscal year 1989 budget was "only half a loaf," compared with the $1.4 million the arts council originally requested.

Last year, arts organizations' funding requests exceeded by three times the amount the arts council had available to grant, according to Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the organizers of the lobbying efforts.

The group encouraged arts supporters to ask for more funding through a supplemental budget request later this year. In speaking to the crowd, state Department of Economic and Employment Development Secretary J. Randall Evans, who oversees the state arts council, encouraged arts supporters to hold out hope for a supplement.

Also, Evans proposed to the crowd that the state create a program promoting the sale of Maryland artists' works, along the lines of the "Maryland With Pride" campaign supporting products made here. He added that he would like to create annual or biennial arts awards, to be presented by the governor.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Charles J. Ryan (D-Prince George's) encouraged the arts supporters to expand their lobbying efforts in the future.

"It's important to talk to your senators and delegates," he told the group from Prince George's. "They'll hear you if you come out. If you don't come out, other people will."