In her first public appearance since last week’s win in the general election, Prince George’s County Executive-elect Angela Alsobrooks said arts would be one of her goals as leader of Maryland’s second-largest jurisdiction.
The mission would include boosting the county’s tourism industry that includes promoting various arts programs and incorporate paraphernalia about small businesses at local hotels.
“We have so much talent in Prince George’s County,” Alsobrooks said during a discussion Tuesday, Nov. 13 with about 65 business, community and arts leaders at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier. “How do you talk about business without talking about the arts? There is no vibrant community that does not also include the arts.”
She talked about how arts influenced her as a child after being diagnosed with attention deficient disorder. Instead of a pediatrician’s recommendation for medication, Alsobrooks said her parents enrolled her at 8 years old in a youth theater program at Howard University in Northwest. Besides her engagement in dance, song and theater, she also changed her diet.
“It changed my life,” she said. “I know the power of theater. I know the power of the arts.”
Alsobrooks, currently the county’s state’s attorney, will be officially sworn in as county executive Dec. 3 and ensured those in attendance the arts would become an integral part to improve the county from a cultural and business perspective.
For instance, she supports the arts integration programs instituted in dozens of public schools by Kevin Maxwell the county’s former public schools chief.
Alsobrooks plans to ensure more “stakeholders” create partnerships with current for-profit and nonprofit organizations and schools.
“It is my desire and goal … to not only provide the arts to every child, but to provide more venues throughout the county where we can enjoy together the beauty of the arts,” Alsobrooks said.
Her vision resonated with Brooke Kidd, executive director of Joe’s.
“I’m swooning,” Kidd said. “That’s the vision we need. That’s powerful.”
Joe’s Movement Emporium, sectioned in the county’s arts district since 1995, not only showcases dance, music and theater performances, but also workshops and weekly classes that include hand and belly dances and yoga.
The arts hub also provides a summer camp, after school activities for elementary students and “CreativeWorks,” a job training program for those ages 17 to 24 to experience skills in digital media, photography and theater production. Joe’s employs 10 full-time and between 20 to 25 part-time staffers.
Kidd said arts businesses not only produce jobs, but can enhance a community’s physical characteristic.
“They often will fill a vacant, or underutilized space,” Kidd said. “When that happens, it attracts other retail and small businesses. They also tend to create an aesthetic improvement and giving some areas curbside appeal.”
Alsobrooks received plenty of praise and “thanks” for incorporating arts as a part of her administration.
“She’s such a dynamic person,” said Craig Pascal, senior vice president and community development manager with BB&T Bank that sponsored the breakfast dialogue. “I’m so excited for the county. I know her heart is with the county and the people with the county. Make sure you take care of Joe’s.”