Story by Michelle Brosco Christian and Photography by Ed Mann
While Therese Thiedeman is always running in numerous directions, she has a one-track mind. And that track always leads back to a stage of some sort.
"I like being busy all the time," said Thiedeman. "I love the arts and I love meeting people - creative people even more!" The arts are definitely what her life is about and has been about for many years. Beginning in high school, Thiede-man played clarinet and saxophone in the marching band, performed in the pit orchestra for the school's annual play, and sang in her church choir. Many years later, she still hasn't slowed down. In fact, Thiedeman is probably doing even more.
She is currently the College of Southern Maryland's part-time box office manager, she sings in the Chesapeake Choral Arts Society, she teaches guitar lessons at a county senior center, she's learning to play the flute, she's preparing for a Port Tobacco Players' production, and last year she started a tri-county website to help artists promote and market themselves (www.somdarts.com
). Tired yet?
What keeps driving Thiedeman is a deep desire to help promote arts of all kinds. "We need more audience," she said of both the performing and the visual arts. "We need people to learn and see" and simply to come and experience the many artistic venues available. More than anything, she said, "We need people who do attend events to tell others," because their word of mouth is invaluable. "If you see something and you liked it, tell others," she said.
Thiedeman's years of volunteering and working in the Southern Maryland arts scene have made her aware that others "don't realize the caliber of talent we have in the area." She said that on almost any given day there are opportunities to see some kind of live performance. And while an abundance is good, the bad that Thiedeman is trying to remedy through her website is that arts organizations do not look at other groups' events and schedule around each other. While there is a lot of competition for dates, she doesn't see the arts groups themselves competing with one another because they all offer so many different events and specialties.
Thiedeman said she is happy to see the community's support for her website, but she wants to urge more cultural and arts groups and businesses to register on the site. "It's free," she reminds groups and individuals.
If your own schedule is rather busy, Thiedeman said she has an e-mail list that she occasionally uses to remind arts lovers about upcoming events. And she promises she won't bombard your inbox. Once audience members get out into the art scene, Thiedeman asks that they explore and try new things. "Most audiences just want to be entertained," she said, "but the arts can do so much more."
One project she's watched with interest at CSM is Cause Theatre, which produces theater pieces that address timely issues such as substance abuse, sexual health and body image, as well as racism, suicide and women's issues. However, as with many of the dramatic-type performances, Thiedeman said more participation by CSM students and the community is needed to keep Cause Theatre going. "You want to be true to the arts and give actors a chance to stretch [their skills]."
Artists value their audiences, and feedback from all types of audience members is something Thiedeman wants via her website. "I want to know what you like, what you don't," she said. "Tell me what you want or if you can't find something" on the website.
Despite the constant running in many different directions, Thiedeman shows no evidence of slowing down any time soon. "The arts open avenues that allow us to wonder, think, question, reflect, enlighten, communicate and celebrate … to be fully human," she said. "It's what life's all about."
to learn about the many organizations Thiedeman is involved with.