On February 22, the Baltimore Youth Arts Advocacy Council joined Maryland Citizens for the Arts in Annapolis to experience the Maryland General Assembly and advocate for the full funding of the Maryland State Arts Council. The day started with an early morning meeting with Senator Cory McCray before observing a House floor session in action. 

Delegate Stephanie Smith was sure to give our team a shout out! From there we were welcomed by the friendly staff of Potato Valley Cafe, a lawmaker and lobbyist lunch spot favorite. We ended the day with a House Appropriations Committee hearing where lawmakers were reviewing the budgets of Maryland Public Television and the Maryland State Arts Council. BYAAC member, Carrie Snowden delivered an excellent testimony alongside Nicholas Cohen, director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts and Kayenecha Daugherty, founder of Creative Nomads.

With all the amazing interactions and experiences our Council had in Annapolis, we HAD to share and let the world see what we were up to throughout the day! Two BYAAC members, Amari Davenport & Ky’mera Pauling, took to social media

to give the followers of our socials a look into the world of arts advocacy. Throughout the day they made sure to capture special moments & even some interviews with some of Maryland’s own elected representatives! Our BYAAC team is excited to begin their journey to share arts advocacy with our online community and beyond, so if you haven’t already, make sure to give our council a follow on their own pages, linked below!

Read all about council member’s thoughts on the day below:

The trip to the Maryland General Assembly itself was a whole new experience and like Nicholas said, we got to see democracy in action throughout the day. The building itself was very beautiful and was reminiscent of other government buildings but more busy. The whole time it felt like controlled chaos. Only after visiting did I realize the amount of things getting at once in an office and the building.

Visiting the General Assembly was an eye opening experience and inspires me to continue doing advocacy work as it can bear results that I have personally witnessed. Seeing the willingness of people like Senator McCray and Delegate Stephany Smith to lend support to groups like BYAAC instills hope for someone my age for the potential change and evolution of our democracy to better serve the disenfranchised and disadvantaged people in our communities and society.

Chloe Zheng

12th Grade, Baltimore City College High School

My experience in Annapolis was fun, to say the least. It was a mix of different experiences and interactions from elected officials as well as a shoutout on the Senate floor. All in all, it was humbling and showed me that I have the power to change the environment around me through the power of advocacy and legal action. I learned that the proposal of bills and laws takes time, it’s helped me learn patience and shed new light on our judicial system for me. It’s inspired me also to get to know our local elected officials; It was through the interview we did with senator Cory McCray that has shown me that some of our politicians do care about the youth and our future as well as the arts. 

I love how I know now that we have allies with the Maryland arts council with our friend and partner, lobbyist Nicholas Cohen and Chief of Staff Tamika Winkler. I Hope now thanks to our team’s testimony from Carrie Snowden, people will acknowledge the arts and support us in supporting the Maryland state art council’s budget.

Amari Davenport

12th Grade, Baltimore City College High School

What really surprised me was when Senator McCray was living where I lived when he was growing up. I loved how he even mentioned his daughter who attends Poly. He brought very good vibes into the room as well as us. What inspired me was the environment I was in. Everywhere you went it was classy,mature and serious. I loved being around it. Annapolis itself is like a tiny village. I experienced seeing the cherry blossom trees and I thought they were so pretty and I don’t normally see them around where I live. I really appreciated Nicholas Cohen’s dedication to leading us throughout the whole day and telling us facts

Kourtney McCleary

11th Grade, Bard High School Early College

Overall, the day was extremely educational, in a general sense, and in a professional sense. 

Speaking with senator McCray taught me a lot about the structure of the assembly and which members operate where. It was really shocking to see how lively the office of Delegate Smith was, her space was so warm and welcoming, It is the exact picture of the work environment I would hope to find myself a part of in the future. Walking into the state house was a bit overwhelming at first, but it really does speak to the power of the place, and the change that can be made through policy, even by younger voices. 

I loved our trip for lunch of course. Not only for the food, but for the time it allowed us to really enjoy the beauty of the Annapolis area, and interact with the working class residents who keep the place running. The owner of the restaurant was so welcoming and supportive of what we are out here fighting for, and it is always great to have positive vibes floating around on a daily basis. 

I enjoyed the trip, and I feel I could go again a dozen times and still come out with new and valuable experiences.

Ky'Mera Pauling

12th Grade, Baltimore City College High School