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July 21, 2008Press Release

Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the appointment of four new members to the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). The new members, who will serve threeyear terms, are Barbara Bershon (St. Mary’s County), Nilimma Devi (Montgomery County), Nancy Haragan (Baltimore City) and Susanna Nemes (Montgomery County). The new councilors will become part of a 17- member governing panel that guides the operation of the Arts Council in conjunction with the Council’s professional staff and serves as advocates for the arts to ensure that they thrive in all forms in every region of the state.

“The caliber and experience of our newest members – together with the vision and capacity of our leadership team – will ensure that accessibility, artistic excellence and diversity are hallmarks of Maryland’s arts community,” said Governor O’Malley. “We are inspired and grateful for their commitment to serve this vibrant sector.”

Governor O’Malley also announced that the Arts Council recently elected a new slate of officers. Serving as the new Arts Council chair will be Baltimore entertainment attorney E. Scott Johnson, who previously served as the Council’s vice-chair; Patricia (Patsy) Lewis Mote, a Prince George’s County resident and visual artist, to serve as vice-chair; and Frostburg University Vice President and Allegany County resident William (Bill) Mandicott as secretary-treasurer.

Johnson received a gubernatorial appointment to the Arts Council in 2004 and was re-appointed in 2007 by Governor O’Malley. As a principal with Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver, a Baltimore-based law firm, Johnson works with a wide range of intellectual property issues that affect individuals, companies, nonprofits and educational institutions. A musician and founding member of Maryland Lawyers for the Arts, he has served on the boards of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, CityLit Project and the Creative Alliance and will oversee the Council during the recently launched statewide strategic planning process entitled “Imagine Maryland.”

The new Council members are:

  • Barbara Bershon is executive director of the River Concert Series at St. Mary’s College. This popular event presents free classical music concerts on the riverfront. Bershon is a professor in the college’s psychology department and lives in St. Mary’s City.
  • Nilimma Devi is founder and director of the Nilimma Devi Dance Theater and the Sutradhar Institute of Dance and Related Arts located in Silver Spring. She is a Maryland Traditions artist and a past recipient of the state’s Individual Artist Awards.
  • Nancy Haragan has been executive director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance since its inception in 2001. The Baltimore resident also serves on the boards of the Baltimore Heritage Association, Station North Arts and Entertainment District and Arts Every Day.
  • Susanna Nemes owns OBRAS Art Gallery (Baltimore) featuring central and South American visual artists. President and CEO of Silver Spring based Social Solutions, Intl, this Olney resident helps foreign governments develop health and human service policies and programs.

Hannah Byron, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Business & Economic Development’s Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, applauded the Governor’s appointees. “These appointments demonstrate Maryland’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, and recognize the importance of having trusted, proven leadership at the helm of this important agency,” Byron said.

An agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce, the MSAC encourages and invests in the advancement of the arts for the people of Maryland by supporting artists and arts organizations in their pursuit of artistic excellence; ensuring accessibility of the arts to all citizens; and by promoting statewide awareness of arts resources and opportunities. A Department of Commerce economic impact study showed that 14 million people attended state-funded arts events during the 2007 fiscal year. More than 15,000 Marylanders are employed in nonprofit arts organizations, a $1.2 billion industry for the state. For information about the Arts Council’s programs, grants and services, visit or call 410-767-6555 or TDD/TYY 410-333-4519.