This month we are featuring Garrett County Arts Council’s new Board President, Sue Lisantti. Sue took over the position as President of the Garrett County Arts Council’s Board of Directors on July 1, 2019. She is an energetic personality with a vision for the future of the Arts Council.
Lisantti comes from an artistic and musical family. She began playing piano at age 7, and considers her first loves to be theatre and music. She was in her first theatre production at the age of 13, and learned to play the clarinet and guitar in addition to the piano. Her family encouraged the pursuit of all forms of art, including fiber arts, candle-making, and jewelry. Lisantti has continued the tradition and is incredibly proud of her two sons and their artistic endeavors. Her son Zach is a woodworker and her son Nick is a photographer, film-maker, and visual artist. On top of that, both sons are also musicians in a band.
Lisantti moved to Garrett County in 1991 and taught for 27 years in Garrett County Schools, 24 of which were at Southern Middle School. Before teaching, Lisantti worked as a legislative assistant and writer on Capitol Hill. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Communications and Education and a minor in Theatre. She took graduate courses in writing as well.
Upon retiring from teaching, Lisantti immediately formed The Reading Station, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing free reading instruction to children and adults in Garrett County. There are two locations for The Reading Station: 105 S. Second Street, Suite 1, Oakland (above the Historical Society), and at Northern Middle School. When The Reading Station was formed in August of 2017, Lisantti started with one teacher and three students. It has since grown to five teachers and 33 students with a waiting list.
Lisantti enjoys being involved in the local community. She has performed with the Garrett Choral Society and is an active member of the Oakland Rotary. She has also performed in numerous productions at Our Town Theatre. Lisantti also enjoys experimenting with watercolors after taking classes with Sue Arnson of The Loft Shop.
“The opportunity to serve as the President of the Garrett County Arts Council is both humbling and invigorating”, says Lisantti. She says her goal is to tighten up the GCAC program and expand a few of the services to writers. And she will not have to do it on her own; five new Board Members were recently added to the Board of Directors, bringing the total number of Board Members to 16.
As the new President of the Board of Directors, Lisantti has already participated in several state-wide events on behalf of the arts. She believes it is vital to have an active voice in state legislation supporting the arts. “Being a responsible participant in the state arts legislation has allowed the Garrett County Arts Council to provide grants to over 17 arts organizations across Garrett County,” says Lisantti.
Lisantti dreams of founding a mid-county writers’ group and places a high priority on helping to develop the skills of the school-aged emerging writers in our county. Last year, Lisantti made a point of visiting local high schools encouraging young writers to apply to have their work published in Ginseng, the annual literary journal by the Garrett County Arts Council. In addition to Ginseng, GCAC also plans an annual “Page-to-Stage” event where local writers read and perform their own work.
Lisantti also encourages school-aged emerging visual artists to apply to be juried at The Gallery Shop and to become involved with GCAC where they can meet fellow local artists. All artists are welcome to submit work to be juried into The Gallery Shop, and for more information call or stop in. Through GCAC, artists of all levels and abilities can see Artist Demos or take workshops to further explore their art and grow.
Lisantti is very earnest in her excitement regarding being a part of the local creative community and those who support it. “I do want to say that we so appreciate every artist, every member, and every volunteer at events. Our artists are exquisite and unique, and our volunteers are selfless and truly live for the Arts.”
The Garrett County Arts Council is funded by the Maryland State Arts Council, Garrett County Government, and through membership support. For more information or to become a member, contact GCAC at 301-334-6580, visit garrettarts.org, and like Garrett County Arts Council and The Gallery Shop on Facebook.