Maryland State Arts Council Announces 2021 Independent Arts Award Recipients

BALTIMORE, MD (April 5, 2021) - MSAC announced today that $266,000 has been awarded to 66 Maryland artists through the 2021 Independent Artist Awards (IAA). With this year’s awards focused on visual and media arts, 2021 awardees represent a wide range of artistic talents from all across the state, from painting, ceramics, and works on paper to digital media, film, and installation. Click here for the full list of winners.

“As Maryland continues to recover from the global pandemic, it is important to recognize just how important a role the arts play in our lives,” said First Lady Yumi Hogan. “As we look to brighter days ahead, we know the arts community will be there to help us reflect, heal, and celebrate. All the artists in Maryland contribute to this creative ecosystem. I want to congratulate all the awardees for their incredible contributions to the arts and our communities.”

This year’s awardees were chosen from a pool of 540 applicants through a public panel process. MSAC worked with 38 panelists, made up of multidisciplinary artists and practitioners from across the state, to review and evaluate each eligible application. Panelists received training on the IAA program, including scoring using a published rubric and implicit bias in the panel process. 

Panelists reviewed all 540 eligible applications, which included 311 from Baltimore Metro region, 166 from Washington Metro region, and 63 from the Eastern, Southern, and Western regions.

Panelists then recommended 86 applications to move forward to the public Regional Panel Meetings for further review. From here, 66 were recommended for Regional Awards. See list below.

In addition to the recognition, awardees receive grants to support their continued artistic growth. 53 artists will receive a regional grant of $2,000 to recognize promise, and 13 artists will receive an award of $10,000 to recognize notable artistic achievement. Two state awardees, chosen from the $10,000 regional winners, were also named: Stephen Towns of Baltimore City and Mia Rollow of Prince George’s County will receive an additional award of $15,000 to recognize outstanding artistic achievement. 

"It’s a privilege to be recognized by my artistic peers. This award gives me more motivation to continue the work that I have been creating," says Stephen Towns.

Awardees will be highlighted during the virtual Maryland Arts Awards event at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 16. Visit for more details.

In 2022, the IAA program will recognize artists in the literary arts, and in 2023 the awards will highlight the performing arts. Applications for the 2022 awards will be accepted beginning later this spring and due this summer. 

Image: "We Shall Pass through the Combahee" Natural and synthetic fabric, nylon tulle, polyester and cotton thread, metallic thread, crystal glass beads, buttons, 2019, by Stephen Towns.