Serving the community through the arts

Barbara J. Seese
Posted 10/16/17

Dorchester Center for the Arts (DCA) was founded in 1970 by three professional artists: W. Robert Tolley, Shirley Brannock, and John Bannon — all educators and graduates of the Maryland Institute …

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Serving the community through the arts


Dorchester Center for the Arts (DCA) was founded in 1970 by three professional artists: W. Robert Tolley, Shirley Brannock, and John Bannon — all educators and graduates of the Maryland Institute of Art. Believing it important to establish a center for the arts to serve the people of Dorchester County, they launched a search for a place where a broad-based arts program could be concentrated.

Several years earlier, as part of a program to build a new county office building on Cambridge Creek, the County Commissioners had purchased an 18th century house on High Street. They offered the use of three rooms in the house, provided an appropriate corporation was established. On Aug. 17, 1970, the initial meeting to organize a community center was held with papers of incorporation drawn up and signed by the three founding artists. The first official meeting of the new Arts Center was held on Oct. 5 in the meeting room of the County Commissioners.

Over four decades later, DCA is housed in a new space with expanded services and plans for additional growth within the county. Yet both the present and the future owe a deep debt of gratitude to these visionary founders. As the primary arts-provider and designated arts council for Dorchester County, DCA continues to serve the community with an annual calendar of instruction for all ages along with a full roster of exhibitions, performances, and special events.

The community is invited to be a part of the arts through program participation, instruction, and as volunteers and supporters. Stop by 321 High St. to learn how you can play a part at DCA.

Community Grant Opportunities

In support of outreach commitments, sub-grants are made to area schools through the arts-in-education (AiE) program and to nonprofit organizations for arts-based activities through Community Art Development (CAD) grants, both in association with the Maryland State Arts Council. Dec. 1, 2017 is the deadline for new community art grant applications for programs scheduled Jan. 1, 2018 – June 30, 2018. For complete information and application for download, visit DCA online at

For the most recent round of funding, DCA was pleased to support the music and living history performances of the “Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Dorchester,” presented by the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance. Additional support included Drumming and Dance Rhythms with Dennis Minus, presented by Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation.

Prior support has included the Christ Church Concert Series, art workshops for the Eastern Shore Hospital Center, programs for Pleasant Day Adult Daycare Center, performances by Midshore Community Band and the Cambridge Ballet Company, The Chesapeake Chamber Music series and more. For additional information and/or assistance with the grant process, please contact Barb Seese, executive director, at 410-228-7782.

Second Saturday Artists’ Reception

Second Saturday Artists’ Reception for the Community Photography and Digital Arts Exhibit and Competition will be held on Saturday, 5-7:30 p.m., part of the Cambridge Main Street “ARTOBER” Initiative, with artful Second Saturday happenings all over downtown. Enjoy light refreshments and piano music by Ira Nelson.

Prizes will be awarded in several categories. For more on programs and events at DCA visit Follow us on Facebook!

Editor’s note: Spectrum is the weekly column of the Dorchester Arts Center. It is written by Barbara J. Seese, executive director.

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