State Comptroller Peter Franchot came to the Prince Theatre in Chestertown last week and awarded the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award to Leslie Raimond, Executive Director of the Arts Council–for her tireless efforts to promote art and culture in Chestertown.
“It is in the spirit of Lincoln and Schaefer that I stand here,” Franchot said. “The press lauds Schaefer for his bricks and mortar contributions, the Inner Harbor, Reach the Beach, the stadiums…but it was his helping the people that he is best known.” He said Raimond’s efforts mirror the spirit and work ethic of the late Governor–in that her work benefits almost everyone in the community.
Before introducing Franchot to speak, the entire audience rose when Chestertown Mayor Margo Bailey asked, “Everybody who has been affected by Leslie and the Arts Council please stand up.”
Despite the hundred degree temperature, there was a house full of musicians, artists, local and state dignitaries and community well-wishers at the Garfield Center last Thursday afternoon to recognize Raimond and the Kent County Arts Council’s (KCAC) commitment to society.
Accepting the certificate of recognition, Raimond remarked that the award celebrates the power of art in creating a healthy community, as an economic engine, as well as in the realm of education. The audience was given a virtual walking tour of the various galleries, studios, music and poetry venues in downtown Chestertown, followed by a video describing the history of the Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic on South Queen Street (GAR building).
The KCAC , in cooperation with town, county, and the African American community, is working towards renovating the historic structure to create a vibrant center of performance, display, education and research that honors local African American culture and the country’s Civil War heritage.
The “New Gospelite” trio, whom Raimond said has sung for every one of her important occasions, concluded the ceremony, receiving a standing ovation.
Dan Menefee contributed to this article