Daily Record Staff//July 28, 2022
//July 28, 2022
Donna Drew Sawyer is an accomplished arts administrator in many cities, and since 2017 has led the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.
In 2018, BOPA became the statewide Maryland affiliate for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, annually giving more than 3,000 teens in grades seven through 12 the opportunity to participate in the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. Then, Sawyer faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic head-on to support and celebrate the arts and creative community.
“Even though our primary source of revenue, sponsorship of our signature festivals, disappeared during the pandemic, we used innovation and sheer determination to find new ways to provide financial support for creatives through partnerships; virtual exhibitions; safe, in-person group and individual art exhibitions; virtual studio visits; performances; and a host of other opportunities,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer was the director of communication and marketing at The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum of Art. She was also the founding executive director of the Wilder Performing Arts Center at Norfolk State University from 1997 to 2000 and was a founding presenter of the Virginia Waterfront Arts Festival. At the Children’s Television Workshop in the early 1990s, she launched the first Spanish language marketing program.
Sawyer said she is passionate about expanding the arts so they are more diverse, and noted the BOPA underwrote the Sondheim Art Prize to offer fellowships and opportunities for local artists to exhibit at a major art museum.