Archive | October 2012

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: Baltimore City

At the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting held on October 17th, Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts discussed some of the key points covered in the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report. The report showcases the large economic and social impact that the nonprofit arts and culture industry has on Baltimore City, generating $388.2 million in economic activity.

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations themselves were found to spend $266.3 million. The spending of the organizations ranges from supplies (which are often purchased locally) to paying employees (supporting 9,505 fulltime equivalent jobs). Baltimore City’s arts and culture organizations create a wide array of jobs for administrators, artists, accountants, event planners, and many more. In addition to generating $260.4 million in household income to local residents, Baltimore City’s arts and culture organizations also provide $33.9 million of revenue for state and local government.

The report also highlights how arts and culture organizations bring in a significant amount of income to local businesses by event audiences: $121.9 million. Attendees who come to arts and cultural based events often shop at stores close to the event venue, eat at restaurants, pay for parking, and/or stay at nearby hotels. In the AFTA’s survey, 64.1% of all non-resident respondents stated that their reason for traveling to the city was to attend an art/cultural based event.

The Arts and Economic Prosperity IV report provides strong evidence of the important role that the arts and culture industry plays in Baltimore City’s economy. Not only does the arts and culture industry act as a source of jobs, household income, and government revenue, but is a primary aspect of Baltimore City tourism. Supporting Baltimore City’s arts and culture industry clearly coincides with supporting the city’s economic well-being.

To read the full report please click here.

Ashley Milburn: Flipping What We See

As Ashley Milburn was beginning his work as an artist he struggled to find meaning or purpose in the creation of art while in the studio. It was when he began to do art that was community based that he felt that his work was truly “valuable.” Milburn describes community based art as impactful because of the engagement and sharing that the artist experiences with community. Essential to community based art he feels is the ability for the artist to give up ownership of the art making process and allow themselves to come into the project with a blank slate that is capable of being inspired from within the community itself.  Driven by his passion for community art last year Milburn helped organize ROOTS Fest 2011, an outdoor festival and gathering of community-based art-makers and practitioners who engaged in community dialogues, held performances,  visual art installations, films, and more in West Baltimore.

Milburn has drawn his inspiration from the community and topics that have proven timely and personal. Through his work The Hoodie Diaries, he draws attention to the way in which our society attributes entire realities to inanimate objects. His work focuses on the hoodie, which has been invented from a simple piece of clothing into a threatening and dangerous symbol profoundly embedded in racist anxiety. The construction of this false reality is used as a tool to oppress people of color and maintain the created image of a menace to society. Milburn challenges the societal perceptions of the hoodie by transforming the stigmatized clothing into three dimensional works of art whose beauty expose the false reality behind the constructed image.

In Milburn’s new project Flipped: The Art of Visualizing Racism, he continues his work focused on “flipping” and changing negative images into something transformative. “Flipped” works to highlight the deep seeded roots of racist imagery embedded in American culture by drawing examples of these images and using them in his art. Milburn’s new pieces take the images intended to dehumanize and oppress a race of people and creates a new message that works to dismantle the old. The use of the racist imagery assures that the viewer does not forget the extensive history of racism or the impact that such imagery has on manipulating societal attitudes. At the same time the way in which the images are used and flipped challenges the power behind the images by changing not only the way the images are viewed, but who is creating them.

Throughout his work Milburn consistently shows how art can be used as a tool to expose the problematic aspects of society. In his different projects he is able to take images and objects that are immersed in racism and transform them into wholly new works of art that disarm the original power and intent all the while ensuring that its history is still visible. The Hoodie Diaries can be seen at the upcoming Facing Race conference in Baltimore from November 15-17th, please visit for more information. For more information on The Hoodie Diaries please click here. For more information on Flipped: The Art of Visualizing Racism please click here.

Art + Justice: Getting to the Root

On Thursday Sept. 27th the Baltimore Art + Justice Project held its first of a series of community forums: Art + Justice: Getting to the Root. The forum focused on opening the dialogue on the topics of art, social justice, and their intersections. Lead by members of the Theatre Action Group, community members discussed the topic through interactive exercises where they created human sculptures that represented what art and social justice could look like. Attendees shared some of their own experiences with art and social justice and what type of promising practices may make the collaboration effective and positive. Stay tuned for reports from this week’s forum and future forums on the Artful Discussion page.

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