From referrals to concert advertising to business listings, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce offers ways for businesses to support the arts.

For example, Columbia Pro Cantare received more than 2,460 referrals from the Chamber in 2016, which included business listings, and concert advertising on its website that resulted in site visits. “We believe it is a worthwhile collaboration to continue in the future,” said founder Frances Dawson.

Columbia Pro Cantare joined the Howard Chamber because Dawson and its other members believe that the community is stronger when businesses support the arts and form a true collaboration between them.

“The Maryland Arts Council provides statistics each year that show the amount of money the arts bring into communities and how they benefit the economy through jobs and tourism,” explained Dawson. “Columbia Pro Cantare produces five concerts each year, with audiences totaling approximately 2,000. Many of these people eat out while in the area, bringing increased revenues to local businesses.”

Columbia Pro Cantare, established in 1977, performs a variety of classical, ethnic and American choral music with professional instrumentalists and soloists. “It is evident that Jim Rouse’s vision of Columbia as a place where people could grow and find expression for their artistic talents became a reality for me,” said Dawson.

This year, the Columbia Pro Cantare will celebrate Columbia’s 50th anniversary with a May concert featuring internationally renowned baritone Lester Lynch, who will narrate Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” with orchestra.

Unique Marketing Opportunities

The Columbia Orchestra has been a member of the Howard Chamber for several years. “The Chamber provides networking opportunities for the members of the orchestra staff and board, timely information on what’s happening in our community and unique marketing opportunities,” said Katherine Keefe, the orchestra’s executive director.

Hailed as “a pillar of the local arts community” by The Washington Post, the Columbia Orchestra is a community orchestra with more than 90 members. Since its founding in 1977, the orchestra’s programming has grown to include classical, symphonic pops, chamber and young people’s concerts. Its performances of classical and contemporary masterworks gained national recognition with a 2013 American Prize for Orchestral Programming.

The orchestra also offers educational programs, including “Meet the Instrument” programs in local pre-schools, school-day concerts for more than 1,000 Howard County third-graders, an annual Young Artist Competition and pre-concert discussions at classical concerts. The orchestra has experienced tremendous growth under the leadership of Music Director Jason Love and now reaches an annual audience of more than 11,000.

Wonderful Networking

The Howard County Concert Orchestra (HCCO) decided to join the Howard Chamber to increase its exposure within the community and to use what Nancy Mason described as “the wonderful networking and promotional opportunities the Chamber offers.”

Mason, president of the orchestra, said the Chamber helps HCCO promote its role in the community by supporting its concert series and educational initiatives. “The presence of the HCCO serves to contribute to the community’s love of the arts and thus enhances the quality of life in Howard County and beyond,” she said. “The HCCO is an unknown treasure in the community. Thus, the orchestra recognizes the value in being an active member of the Chamber.”

HCCO, founded in 2013, is an outgrowth of the first professional chamber orchestra founded in Howard County, The Orchestra of St. John’s, which was established in 2008. The music director for both has been Ronald Mutchnik, violinist and conductor and long-time Howard County resident. Mutchnik and colleagues, with the support of the community, felt the need to offer an all-professional orchestra in the county. Each year, a special concert featuring a particular country’s culture and heritage is offered, as well as concerts partnering with Howard Community College, Columbia Pro Cantare, the Bach in Baltimore Series and others.

Based in the sanctuary of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, the orchestra does outreach to local schools and will give its first concert in Catonsville, at the new Linehan Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, next season.

Future Relationships

The Candlelight Concert Society has been a member of the Howard Chamber for decades. The society’s new executive director, Jessica Julin White, is looking forward to learning how she can collaborate with other Chamber members to offer outreach, education and enrichment throughout the community.
“We want to make business contacts in as many different facets as we can,” she said. “I look forward to attending Chamber meetings and making connections. We have opportunities for corporate sponsorships as well. That’s really vital for what we do.”

Now in its 45th season, the Candlelight Concert Society aims to grow its audience more within the community. “We are very lucky to have a steady stream of subscribers, many of whom have been coming to the concerts for more than 20 years,” said White. “Arts are a vital part of our everyday lives. You don’t have to go to D.C. or Baltimore — you get to see it right here.”