A Solid Foundation: A Conversation with Marlene Young of Delaplaine Foundation
The Delaplaine Arts Center and Delaplaine Foundation have more than a name in common: We share a deep relationship that began with George and Bettie Delaplaine. Recently, we talked with Marlene Young, President of Delaplaine Foundation, about the Foundation’s ongoing support of the arts center.
Delaplaine Arts: How and when did Delaplaine Foundation become involved in supporting The Delaplaine Arts Center?
Marlene Young: For many who number the trustees and officers of Delaplaine Foundation, involvement in the support of The Delaplaine Arts Center predates the inception of the Foundation. It was in the year 1987 that George and Bettie Delaplaine cut the ribbon in announcing the future home of The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center at its current location. The announcement was made in conjunction with the gift of the former Mountain City Mill building (initially used as a mill and later for storing newsprint) which was gifted by the Delaplaine and Randall families to the City of Frederick for the purpose of a community arts center. It was in 2001 that Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. was established as a result of the sale of the family businesses (newspaper and cable) with a portion of proceeds set aside to create the private family foundation and thereby continue to perpetuate the longstanding practice of charitable giving back to the community which had been a hallmark of the Delaplaine family for generations. Since the inception of Delaplaine Foundation, Inc., the Foundation has funded over $2.5 million in grant and endowment funding to The Delaplaine Arts Center.
DA: What inspires the Delaplaine Foundation’s ongoing support of The Delaplaine Arts Center?
MY: The mission of Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. and The Delaplaine Arts Center are closely aligned and reflect common values and objectives. For Delaplaine Foundation, our mission is to enrich families and communities by supporting inclusive programs and services that focus on the Arts, Health, Human Services, Higher Education, Historic Preservation, and Spiritual Enlightenment. The Delaplaine Arts Center’s mission to provide educational opportunities and experiences in the visual arts to meaningfully engage all segments of the community certainly reflects and reinforces the Foundation’s mission for community enrichment.
DA: What impact have you seen in the community because of the arts center, and your support of it?
MY: The Delaplaine Arts Center can easily be said to be the visual art engine that set in motion an expansion if not explosion of the arts on the Frederick scene. Many other art venues have added to the arts landscape in the community in recent years and have continued to weave the fabric of a great artistic engagement and community cohesion as a result. Thanks in part to funding from Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. and others, The Delaplaine Art Center has not only blossomed in its offerings, but has welcomed over 85,000 visitors each year to its five galleries on-site that showcase local, regional, and national artists while offering more than 270 classes and workshops for all ages, in addition to having one of Maryland’s largest free public art reference libraries. Because The Delaplaine Art Center and Delaplaine Foundation mutually agree that “everyone deserves art,” notably the Center’s outreach program offers free or low-cost classes to underserved populations, making art accessible to all. And, the Delaplaine has expanded to manage satellite galleries in Brunswick, Thurmont, and Urbana in partnership with Frederick County Public Libraries.
DA: Why do you believe that it’s important to continue to support the Delaplaine?
MY: We believe that it’s important to continue to support The Delaplaine through grant funding at Delaplaine Foundation and also through our personal donations because of the power of the visual arts to enrich the human experience. We believe that the arts exert a powerful influence in forming our community. Art raises awareness of social issues, inspires creativity ideas and outlets, and often challenges commonly held ways of thinking with innovative and creative ideas. We see the multi-faceted benefits to the community and the enrichment of individual lives that are impacted. It’s well known that those who participate in art say that the quality of their lives is improved by the personal enjoyment they receive, the creativity and self-expression it fosters, and the increased skills and confidence they achieve. Beyond individual benefits, the arts fuel community and economic development. It’s well understood that cities that are most successful in attracting people are those that have exciting art and cultural offerings.
DA: Anything else you’d like to add?
MY: Another reason we continue to support the Delaplaine is that it bears the name “Delaplaine” which is deeply rooted in the community and whose legacy is synonymous with community enrichment. From a vision for an art center that goes back more than three decades, George Delaplaine and his late wife Bettie championed the cause, knowing that it would richly enhance the community and the lives of those who entered through the Center’s doors. Bettie Delaplaine served as an Honorary Director until her death in 2014 and today her legacy as a patron of the arts continues through The Bettie Awards, named in her honor and memory as an annual art competition for youth. George Delaplaine continues to be one of the Delaplaine’s strongest advocates, both personally and as Chairman of Delaplaine Foundation. Edward “Ted” Delaplaine has served on the Board of Trustees for The Delaplaine Arts Center and as co-chair of its annual gala, the Center’s primary fundraiser, and Ted also serves as a trustee and vice president of Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. His brothers, George “Buck,” Jim, and John likewise carry on the family tradition of support, and my husband, Mike, and I have personally supported The Delaplaine Arts Center annually since its beginning.
DA: Do you have a personal anecdote to share about the Delaplaine?
MY: The Delaplaine Arts Center does a masterful job of making art personal and for everyone. I recall the very first time the community was invited to design a personal tile to reinforce the philosophy that “It’s MY arts center!” Those first tiles are still on display, and hundreds more have joined them over the years. It was a great joy for me several years ago to make the donation of a vintage Mountain City Mill flour sack to the Delaplaine in commemoration of the building’s history. The Delaplaine’s historic building spent its early existence as one of the area’s largest mills, and some of the mill equipment can still be seen on the third floor.