Howard County Arts Council Honors Howie Award Winners

Howard County Arts Council Honors Howie Award Winners

The Howard County Arts Council will honor its 2013 Howie Award winners at the 17th Annual Celebration of the Arts on Saturday, March 29, 2014, at the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College, Columbia, MD. The Celebration gala gives members of Howard County's arts, education, government, and business communities the opportunity to gather to honor individuals and businesses that have made meaningful contributions to the arts in Howard County.

The Howie Awards are presented annually by the Arts Council to an Outstanding Artist who has contributed a high level of talent and vision to the artistic life of the community; an Outstanding Arts Educator who has made an exceptional contribution to arts education in Howard County; and an Outstanding Business or Community Supporter that has made a significant impact on the arts in Howard County.

This year's honoree for Outstanding Artist is Bruce Casteel. A Howard County resident since 1958, Bruce Casteel has contributed to the arts in Howard County as a performer, instrument designer, and instructor, both privately and at Howard Community College. He plays classical, folk, rock, jazz, klezmer, Indian, and Celtic music. Among his many accomplishments, Bruce was top classical guitarist for Sydney's Music and Entertainment in Washington, DC for twenty years and has performed for many years with groups including the Top 40 group Saturday, Buddy Voelker's jazz orchestra, a flute and guitar duo with Marlee Lindon, the klezmer group Instant Simca, and with clarinetist Eyal Bor. He has also performed at a wide range of area venues such as Ranazul and Bombay Peacock Grill, where he played sitar. Bruce has been active in fostering the production of unusual instruments, commissioning guitars from Michael Koontz and Paul Bussels, and from Spain and Mexico. He is believed to have the largest collection of seven-through-eleven-string guitars in the world, which he shared with the public in a special exhibit at Howard Community College. Raissa Howera is the 2013 honoree for Outstanding Arts Educator. Currently in her fifth year of teaching at Oakland Mills Middle School, Raissa Howera is a Maryland native who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in General Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she was awarded the Departmental Recognition Award. Raissa worked as a graphic designer before returning to school to get a Masters in Art Education degree from UMBC, where she received the UMBC Cares grant for social justice, the Suzanne F. Cohen scholarship and the MSDE's Teacher of Promise award. In her teaching, Raissa empowers her students by showing them that they can find their voice through art and make an impact on the world in a positive way. In 2012, Raissa secured a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council allowing her to have an artist-in-residence create a mural with Oakland Mills students. Also in 2012, she engaged her sixth graders and art club students to become a part of the One Million Bones project - an international movement to draw attention to genocide. For every clay "bone" the students made, a dollar was donated to CARE International, which helps families devastated by genocide. In 2013, Raissa's students hosted an Empty Bowls event for which they created clay bowls. The event benefited Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. A resident of Columbia, Raissa is active in the Howard County arts community. Toba Dobkin Barth is the honoree for Outstanding Community Supporter of the Arts. Toba Barth has brought more people to more productions and spread more love for the arts than can be calculated. Toba worked for the Candlelight Concert Society's Series for Children, which she expanded from four performances to eighteen pre-season sell-outs a year. She has also used her skills to assist other local arts organizations. She created a volunteer program for the Columbia Festival of the Arts, which she grew from 50 volunteers to 400 in just the first three years. Toba also invited surrounding jurisdictions to the Howard County Arts Council's first performing arts showcase, held block-booking meetings for HCPSS PTA cultural arts chairpeople, and organized group grant-writing events to help PTAs apply for State Arts Council funding. In addition, Toba lobbied the Board of Education until new strings teachers joined almost every County school. Finally, for twenty years Toba teamed with Toby Orenstein to build the audience and programming for Toby's Youth Theatre and brought thousands of school children to live performances. She introduced Toby and Carol Lehan to Dr. Ben Carson, which resulted in a play based on his life. Toba worked with Toby to evolve Toby's Youth Theatre into the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts and wrote their first grant proposals. Nominally retired, she is employing all her skills as a grandmother and taking her grandchildren to live theatre in Brooklyn and Seattle. Come Celebrate with us! The evening will begin at 6pm with a reception and silent auction of artwork in various media and styles by Howard County artists. During the reception, partygoers will be treated to an array of delicacies from distinctive local restaurants. At 8pm, guests will enjoy the much anticipated presentations of the 2013 Howie Awards and performances from the finalists of the Rising Star Performing Artist Competition! Tickets are $50 and $100 and are available for purchase online at or by calling 410-313-ARTS(2787).

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