by Lisa Breslin
As executive director of Carroll County Arts Council for the past 21 years, Sandy Oxx has led legions of volunteers, artists, donors, board members and patrons through milestones that raised local arts and culture from a dark basement in the Winchester Exchange Building to neon lights on the marquee of the renovated Carroll Theatre. In gratitude for the journey, and in honor of her retirement this month, Carroll Magazine created this timeline tribute.
Sandy gets a banjo for Christmas and gets hooked on music.
CCAC is founded by a group of citizens hoping to make the arts part of the everyday fabric of life in Carroll County.
Sandy graduates with a degree in Music Therapy from Colorado State University and heads to New York to look for a job.
Sandy is working as a music therapist with handicapped children and decides that if she ever wants to have a better wardrobe, she better get an advanced degree. Enrolls in New York University’s graduate program for performing arts management.
Works her way up the ladder at O’Neill Theatre Center, Hudson River Museum, Museum of the City of New York and Rochester Museum & Science Center.
Husband gets a job in Maryland. Sandy jokingly contemplates divorce. Instead she answers a small ad in the newspaper… and lands a job with CCAC.
Gets lonely working in the basement of 15 East Main St. (current location of Gotham Comics) so she began some cultural activities to get the community more involved – some still exist today! Summer Camp. Art Class. Festival of Wreaths. Musical Instrument Bank. Expansion of High School Scholarship program.
Tom Beyard from the City of Westminster calls to say that The Church of the Open Door is putting the theatre up for sale.
He asks if the Arts Council would partner with the City on purchasing and renovating the 1937 Theatre located in downtown Westminster.
Works with Maryland State Arts Council and the City to host a design competition for the mural at Locust Lane. Rents additional space at 15 East Main Street as a classroom. Building purchase goes through for $310,000 using Program Open Space provided through the County’s Recreation & Parks Dept.
Community meetings, design planning, hiring Beck, Powell & Parsons Architect
and fundraising begins
for the new Arts Center.
Construction and fundraising continue and an additional $1.3 million is raised to support the renovation including “naming rights” to all 263 seats. CCAC logo is redesigned as part of a community contest. The winning design was a combination from Tom Holder and Kimberly Lomax.
April 4 grand opening with the first exhibit of “State of the Arts” which features one artist from every county in Maryland. The first stage show on May 10 featuring Pete Geist, comedian.
Carroll Arts Center holds its first Foreign Film Festival.
Yoga classes, free summer movie series and the launch of the Children’s Theatre program.
Sandy enters (and loses) the Washington Post’s first ever PEEPS Diorama contest, Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas has its debut and the Tom Holder Scholarship Fund is established. The Arts Council allows a community group to rent the theatre for a production of “Vagina Monologues.” Heated controversy ensues and Oxx is certain she will be run out of town….she isn’t.
Barleyjuice, Maryland Ensemble’s “A Christmas Carol” and Rocky Horror Picture Show make their first appearances. Film Lovers in Carroll County (FLICC) is established. Their first screening is “Big Night.”
Tickets for films and concerts are available online. The first annual PEEPshow is held.
Barack Obama’s Inauguration is shown on the big screen. A monumental day for a theatre that was segregated until the late 1960s.
Youth Art Month and Gallery of Gifts added to the schedule.
The 10×10 show was a novel way to celebrate the Arts Center’s 10th anniversary. Barn Quilt project began. The trail now features 24 quilts! Big Bird, our first MAJOR sculpture by the Mondor Family, attracts NBC Nightly News to cover the PEEPshow. Event goes viral. Oxx named as one of “50 Women to Watch” by the Baltimore Sun.
1st yART Sale. The Board revises the Mission Statement to read “The CCAC’s mission is to enrich our community, both culturally and economically, by presenting, promoting and supporting a wide variety of arts opportunities for our residents, visitors, and artists.”
Volunteerism has grown to such a point that it is transferred to an online sign in system. Oxx challenges the community to raise $50,000 during the PEEPshow in return for a Peep tattoo on her wrist. Little Vinnies provides the tattoo.
CCAC takes over as host and coordinator of Westminster’s Got Talent.
Target Services begins partnership with CCAC to bring clients in for weekly arts experiences. Sandy celebrates her 20th anniversary with the CCAC and decides it will be her last year.
Oxx wins the Sue Hess Arts Advocate of the Year award from Maryland Citizens of the Arts. Judy Morley is chosen from 88 applicants to become the next executive director. Sandy rides off into the sunset on June 29, bringing with her magical memories, treasured friends and a sparkling of colored sugar.
“Sandy is whip-smart, insightful, diplomatic, and attuned to the community. She has successfully negotiated the often- challenging political environment in which the CCAC operates, and has ensured that the CCAC has been able to weather both budget cuts and economic downturns—in fact this place not only survived, but has thrived when many arts organizations have failed.”– Stacy P. Shaffer, Esq.
“What we all know about Sandy has been said – her infectious energy (wish I had some of it!) and her commitment to the citizens of Carroll County and the arts! What I think is even more notable is that Sandy never viewed anything as a problem, rather she faced challenges head-on and embraced them as learning opportunities. She roused the troops and we worked collaboratively and collectively to create something new out of something that others may have thought we should try to overcome. Sandy is keenly aware of the community needs and seizes opportunities to create venues that appeal to the masses. Under her direction, the Arts Center has more than just thrived. She is leaving some very large shoes for her successor to fill!” – Nancy Schmitt, Former Board President