Mary Callis, who has served as executive director for the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival (GLAF) since 2010, will be adding the responsibilities of the executive director for the performance arts center to be built at Garrett College.
GLAF will be providing 20 hours weekly of Callis’ time as an in-kind contribution in return for the use of the Community Education and Performing Arts Center (CEPAC) for GLAF’s annual performance seasons. Both College and GLAF officials expressed enthusiasm for the arrangement.
“This is a unique arrangement that works because of the historically close ties between GLAF and the College, and because of Mary’s energy, experience and creativity,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president. “It’s also a cost-effective strategy as we build toward a grand opening of the new performing arts center in 2022.”
“The birth of the CEPAC comes after many years of desiring a space worthy of the high-quality arts we have here in Garrett County,” said Andrew Harvey, chair of GLAF’s board of directors. “To have GLAF at the table and sharing in the executive director role is both a privilege and an honor to our more than 30 years of arts production in Garrett County.
“The GLAF Board has spent countless hours working with all parties involved to iron out this extremely unique partnership and we look forward to the marvels that the CEPAC holds,” added Harvey.
While the center doesn’t open for more than two years, both GLAF and the College determined announcing Callis’ selection now will provide valuable lead time for planning purposes. Callis, with her GLAF board of directors’ support, has been actively engaged in planning for the new center for more than a year. She is on the center’s design team, serves on the PAC Steering Committee, and has helped facilitate regular meetings with regional and statewide performing arts practitioners.
“I appreciate not only all that Mary does, but also the purpose behind what she does,” said Dr. Midcap. “Mary has been committed to seeing a performing arts center built and operated in Garrett County for decades, and I know this is a project near and dear to her heart.”
Callis said serving as the first executive director of a performing arts center in Garrett County is a dream come true.
“It’s beyond anything I’ve ever imagined being a part of,” said Callis. “I’m so excited to have this opportunity to work with other people I respect in the community to turn what’s been a dream for so many people into a reality.”
Callis said the collaborative nature of the CEPAC initiative – which counts Garrett College, GLAF, the Garrett County Board of Education, Garrett County government, and the Garrett County Arts Council as partner organizations – will be a key to its success.
“In today’s world, partnerships are essential for nonprofits to survive,” said Callis. “We have an unbelievable set of partners in this project. The facility will bring the partners together under one roof to present more than they could accomplish individually.”
In her GLAF role, the Garrett County native has been responsible for overall organizational administration, fundraising, writing and execution of grants, development and management of marketing plans, and negotiation of all contracts entered into by GLAF.
“The skills and experience that have allowed Mary to excel at GLAF are the very same skills and experience we need in our performing arts center,” said Julie Yoder, Garrett College’s dean of continuing education and workforce development, who will have administrative oversight of the CEPAC facility, including both the community education and performing arts wings.
Callis strongly believes the performing arts center will address a critical need in the region.
“This center will provide more diverse performing arts experiences for our residents and for visitors to the county,” said Callis. “We will be able to expand what is offered because we will have the facility necessary to support those offerings. We’ve been limited in the past on what could be brought to the community due to facility constraints.”
Prior to accepting the GLAF position, Callis was responsible for employee recruitment with both First United Bank and Trust in Oakland and TeleTech Corporation in Morgantown, W.Va. She has served on the Maryland State Arts Council grant review panel as well as the Garrett College Foundation’s board of directors.
Callis – who is also a member of the Oakland Rotary and a graduate of Leadership Garrett County’s Class of 2017 – said the performing arts center could not be more ideally located.
“I’ve always dreamed of this performing arts center being on the campus of Garrett College,” said Callis. “I think it increases exponentially the opportunities available to the community.”