Tag Archive | cultural districts

What Do You Think Baltimore?: Baltimore Think-A-Thon

On Friday May 24th an event is bringing together Baltimore artists, social activists, researchers, medical professionals, scientists, humanists, political representatives, and foundations to do some thinking. The Baltimore Think-A-Thon is an all day brainstorming event being held by the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Focusing on addressing both black infant mortality and rising AIDS/HIV rates in the city, along with other possible issues raised by participants, those in attendance will be coming together across occupations and communities to discuss past, present, and future ways to address these issues.

The Think-A-Thon comes out of recent studies that have found the collaboration between arts and science practitioners in problem solving can create innovative and effective interventions. The varying backgrounds of the thinkers involved from art to science, to politics encourages that they will bring different skills, perspectives, and thinking styles to the discussion. During the day artists will be working to create preliminary sketches of the ideas thought up by the group. The works created throughout the day will be used later in the “Baltimore Stories Project,” a larger community based project.

The intense day of problem solving, thinking and discussing will be taking place on Friday, May 24, 2013 from 9:00am-3:00pm and will be followed by a reception and a poster session. The Think-A-Thon is being held in the Westminster Hall, located at 519 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

For more information and to register please visit http://www.arhu.umd.edu/thinkathon

Creative Cash

The Opening - photo by Kevin Griffin MorenoIn a thought-provoking and sobering series of articles for Salon, culture reporter Scott Timberg reveals troubling economic realities facing America’s “creative class.”

That term, coined over a decade ago by urban theorist Richard Florida, encompasses a wide array of architects, designers, performers, painters, writers, educators, entrepreneurs, and even scientists whom Florida cites as comprising nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce. According to Florida, these creators and innovators constitute the single biggest hope for urban economic revitalization. Inspired by Florida’s vision, cities including Baltimore created housing and development incentives to attract and retain members of the “creative class.”

A visit to Baltimore’s Station North Arts & Entertainment District on a random Friday night would seem to bear out this promise. Within the space of a few blocks, one can listen to a hip-hop duo perform at Joe Squared, catch a play at Single Carrot Theatre, attend a reading at Cyclops Books, or experience a Baltimore Rock Opera Society show at the newly restored Autograph Playhouse. These are but a few indicators of Baltimore’s surging arts scene, which has led some to claim that the city is in the midst of a cultural renaissance.

Yet underlying these signs of vibrancy are some disquieting economic figures. Timberg cites data from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reveal falling revenues and job opportunities for performing arts companies, musical groups, and individual artists, as well as architects, graphic designers, and photographers. Even as the U.S. begins to emerge from economic recession, the labor market prospects for artists and other creatives remain grim.

If Baltimore is serious about tapping the full potential of the “creative class,” the city and state need to build on the investments they have made


in the city’s cultural landscape. Official arts districts like Station North, Highlandtown, and the soon-to-be-designated Westside/downtown arts district represent one strategy for creating jobs, providing artist housing, and increasing the city’s cultural vibrancy. These are promising initiatives that should be sustained and expanded.

Creators and consumers of the arts can also play a vital role by working with groups like Maryland Citizens for the Arts to advocate for increased public funding for artists, arts, organizations, and cultural activities.

At the Art + Justice Project, we believe that arts can be a tool for positive social change. In order to help bring that change about, we need ensure that artists have the resources to produce their work and contribute to the common good.

Does Art REALLY Create Justice?

Earlier this month, MICA hosted a lecture/discussion titled Art as a Tool for Change.   I presented the Baltimore Art + Justice Project to an audience of students, researchers, artists and community members.

Dr. Mark Stern of the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice demonstrated how an investment in art can transform the economy of a city.  Jeffery Cudlin and Gerald Ross, instructors of MICA’s Masters in Curatorial Practice, explained how they and their students are using art to transform and build community in non-traditional spaces, and Rebecca Yenawine, Executive Director of New Lens, illustrated the impact of art on the hopes, dreams and health of young people in Baltimore.

Do you believe art can change the face of Baltimore? Can we build a stronger Baltimore through art? What are the challenges? What are our collective strengths?  Leave your comments.

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