John Schratwieser is no ordinary arts administrator.
After 30 years in the business, he has become an expert at amplifying the social and economic impact of the arts wherever he lands. Whether it’s to build increased funding for the arts, imbue artists and creators with a sense of belonging, or create new spaces to serve as community hubs, John’s vision and charisma bring others along with him: he gets it done.
While serving as the Executive Director for Maryland Citizens for the Arts, John led a public arts funding advocacy effort resulting in a doubling of state funding for the arts to $24 million by the time he left in FY 2018.
After seven years of a grueling statewide focus, John was ready for something else, and his adopted home of Chestertown in Kent County (Maryland’s smallest and most rural county) beckoned.
He got right to work.
“I had big shoes to fill,” he says. “Building on Leslie’s legacy and with the support of the board, we immediately moved to purchase the historic Mansfield/Eliasson House in downtown Chestertown.”
Spurred on by John’s ambitious vision, the group aimed to raise $2.2 million to revamp the historic building into a cultural center, with a focus on a brand-new visiting artist residency program. With $1.4 million secured and the outside of the building complete, the team is working on raising the final funding to complete the interior so the center can open to the public in July 2022.
In a small town, raising that kind of money is no small thing, yet John and the Kent Cultural Alliance are almost there. His organizational skills, passion, and strong leadership have all made it possible.
John has always been able to see a community’s potential, and to inspire community buy-in so that those around him can see it too.
“Kent County is an inspired and inspiring place for artists to both live and create. This rural landscape on North America’s largest estuary (the Chesapeake Bay) provides a constant muse for artists of all disciplines,” he says.
And thanks to John’s extraordinary energy and vision, that landscape will soon be even better.