12-6-11: Remembering a Pillar of the Arts Community

December 6, 2011 at 7:50 am 8 comments

Nancy Haragan.

You’ve never seen Nancy in a play.  You’ve never seen her paintings displayed in a museum.  You’ve never heard her sing an aria.  But if you have gone to Center Stage or the Theater Project; if you’ve wandered through the Walters on a Saturday afternoon, or spent a quiet lunch hour at the Baltimore Museum of Art; if you’ve caught a concert at the Creative Alliance or the Meyerhoff, you’ve tasted the fruit of Nancy Haragan’s work.  As the founding director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Nancy did more to strengthen arts organizations, and to connect them to each other and their audiences, than anyone has ever done.  There are many talented people affiliated with our local arts organizations who will undoubtedly leave their mark on their particular institutions, but Nancy’s legacy encompasses ALL of our important arts organizations and many individual artists, whose work has been advanced by her tenacious and inspired advocacy.

With Fred Lazarus from the MD Institute College of Art and a handful of other arts leaders, Nancy started the Cultural Alliance on a simple premise:  The arts matter.  Artists matter.  And, if we communicated regularly with each other and shared our ideas, we could matter more.  And if we mattered more, the Baltimore region would be a better place to live.  Before GBCA existed, those of us running arts organizations were somewhat siloed, toiling away with good intentions, and very little connection to others who were doing the same kind of work, and the people who wanted to encourage them.  Nancy changed all of that.  She showed us that institutions large and small have much to teach each other, and that working as partners, we could make a strong and compelling case for the importance of the arts to the social and economic vitality of our region.  Nancy invited everybody to the table, and she insisted that the table include everybody, from the organizations that measured their resources in millions of dollars to those who measured theirs in hundreds.  The Baltimore Fun Guide, a website that offers discounted tickets, the Baker Artist Awards, which shine a bright spotlight on the enormous local pool of creative artists, the Cultural Data Project, which helps accurately and thoroughly track the economic activity of artists.  These are but a few of the initiatives that Nancy Haragan put into place.

And she did it with grace, an infectious, wide-eyed enthusiasm, and a cogent, nuanced understanding of how to make things work, how to bring people on board, and how to see things through.  She was smart, indefatigable, and gracious.  People coalesced around Nancy not just because her ideas were persuasive, but because she was the kind of person whose team you wanted to be on.  As we engage with the arts here in Baltimore and beyond, whether it’s in a tiny gallery or the Lyric Theater, at a quiet poetry reading, or a bustling film festival, we should all be proud of the fact that the range of cultural activity in our community continues to increase and improve.  And for that, in so many ways, with her imprint on so many artists and institutions, we have Nancy Haragan to thank.

–Tom Hall, Maryland Morning Arts and Culture Editor


Entry filed under: Arts and Culture, On Air.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve Ziger  |  December 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Thank you, Tom. Nancy brought us all together and transformed us in the process. We are an arts community because of her, and continue with our work in her honor.

  • 2. Debra Rubino  |  December 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks for recognizing how enormous Nancy’s contribution to the community was. I know she would hope that we continue to come together and make this city an even more vibrant place, so that her legacy lives on way into the future!

  • 3. Jan Angevine  |  December 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    What a great life she gave to us. How lucky we were to have had her with us. She brought such integrity and intelligence to our community. Some of us are a flicker of bright light here and there during a lifetime, but Nancy’s life glowed consistently throughout her time here. She was a classy, savvy and extremely productive gift, the proportions of which we may have just begun to grasp.

  • 4. Kini Collins  |  December 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    A perfect eulogy — direct, complete and unsentimental, just like I will remember Nancy. My deepest sympathies to those closest to her.

  • 5. Deborah Bedwell  |  December 7, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Tom- Thank you for this recognition of Nancy’s energy, intuition, and her enthusiastic commitment. She created a pervasive and positive “vibe” that became an identity for Baltimore art and culture. What a gift she was to all of us.

  • 6. Best Tests  |  December 7, 2011 at 5:59 am

    It’s a perfect story! Absolutely she have great life….

  • 7. Kristen McGuire  |  December 7, 2011 at 10:25 am

    What a wonderful tribute to Nancy. I love how passionate she was about the arts AND so many other things too. Politics, her family, friends, the latest in tech, what others were writing about and thinking about, bringing people together. I will miss that passion, her ideas and encouraging (sometimes demanding!) words, her poise and wit. I feel so lucky to have known her (thank you Debra for that!).

  • […] Remembering a Pillar of the Arts Community – Maryland Morning on WYPR by Tom Hall […]


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