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Carole Evitts, Former Board Member, Left a Lasting Impression on CityLit

Former CityLit Project board member Carole Allen Evitts passed away on May 20, 2019. The native Baltimorean with extensive arts administration and arts policy experience was 76. She joined CityLit's board in 2006, just two years after its founding, at a time of growth and maturation for the young organization. Carole was pivotal in coordinating the nonprofit's efforts to apply for its first NEA grant.

"The ad hoc grant committee met frequently over several months at a coffee joint on Fleet Street in Fells Point," recalled Gregg Wilhelm, CityLit's founder and director emeritus. "Carole brought a career's worth of knowledge to the table, kept the committee focused, and guided the application's narrative just so because she knew what funders wanted to hear and how they wanted to hear it. Her work eventually led to CityLit's first $10,000 NEA grant in support of CityLit Festival."

Over her lifetime, Carole's commitment to the arts impacted three states: Virginia, New York, and Maryland.

In Roanoke, Virginia, she was Director of Roanoke’s Festival in the Park, an annual outdoor celebration of visual and performing arts. Under her management, the Festival grew from a one-weekend, one-site event to a 10-day event that drew attendances from five states. Later she became Program Coordinator and then Executive Director of the Roanoke Valley Arts Council, a regional arts service agency. As Executive Director, Carole was involved in the creation of Roanoke’s Center in the Square. This multi-million dollar project was a major part of rebuilding the city’s downtown district. In 1982, it housed five cultural agencies – the Arts Council, Mill Mountain Theater, Roanoke Valley Historical Society, Roanoke Valley Science Museum and Planetarium, and the Roanoke Museum of Fine Arts. Today, it now includes 11 partner organizations.

Carole returned to Baltimore when her husband -- the late historian and writer William (Bill) Evitts -- became alumni director at Johns Hopkins University. She became Executive Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Under her management, Choral Arts created children’s concerts, sold out the 2,400-seat Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, marketed to and drew audiences from four states and the District of Columbia, and was awarded a $30,000 Advancement Grant by the State of Maryland. The organization's general operating budget increased 145%, ticket sales rose 200%, earned income went up 350%, and a new endowment was established. She served on the Towson Development Corporation Cultural Committee and as a panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council. Her board responsibilities included work for the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Theater Project, the Contemporary (founding board), Johns Hopkins Symphony, Peabody Conservatory of Music Prep Association (her Prep Newsletter won an Addy design award), and Shriver Hall Concert Series.

In late 1991, when Bill became alumni director of the State University of New York at Buffalo, the Evittses moved to Williamsville, New York.  Here Carole served on Erie County’s Cultural Resources Advisory Board from 1994 to 2000 (reappointed in 2004), as a panelist for two regrant programs (the Cultural Incentive Funding Program and the KeyArts program), as an auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program (2000), and on the Humanities Review Committee for the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (2002). She served on the governing boards of the Roycroft Restoration Corporation, Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art (CEPA), Buffalo Arts Studio, ArtSpace, and -- most importantly for her future contributions to CityLit -- Just Buffalo Literary Center.

In 2004, Carole was awarded a Brother/Sisterhood Award by The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) ”for outstanding leadership in promoting goodwill and understanding in our community,” and in 2005, she received a New York State Assembly Citation for “leaving an imprint on the fabric of life and quality of place…Buffalo Niagara.”

In addition to their civic and philanthropic contributions to Baltimore's arts and cultural communities, Carole and Bill were gracious hosts, often opening up their home in the Carrollton Condominiums, at the intersection of Greenway and University Parkway, to friends. Their son Michael Evitts is Sr. Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy at the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. Their daughter Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson is a widely published writer, editor, and a 2018 recipient of a Literature Fellowship from the NEA.

The Evitts family has generously recommended donations to CityLit Project in honor of Carole's memory, for which we are grateful and truly touched.

Or you may mail checks to:
CityLit Project
Attn: Carole Evitts Memoriam
120 W. North Avenue, Suite 201
Baltimore, MD 21201-5832

Above Photos:

Top (l to r): CityLit Project board members Carole Evitts, Chic Dambach (and Bunky Markert taking photo), along with founder Gregg Wilhelm in 2007, review organizational documents and plan a strategy for drafting the nonprofit's first-ever NEA grant application.

Middle (l to r): CityLit Project board member Carole Evitts and facilitator Heather Iliff, then staff consult for Maryland Nonprofits and now its President and CEO, discuss vision and mission at the nonprofit's 2008 strategic planning retreat.

Bottom (l to r): Former CityLit Project board members Laura Wexler, Carole Evitts, (founder Gregg Wilhelm), and Scott Johnson take a break at the nonprofit's first formal strategic planning event in 2006, at the home of founding chair Chic Dambach.

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