Questionnaire: Arts & Culture

Download a copy HERE
Submitted to: Citizen Artist Baltimore (CAB), Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA)

Personal Impact of Arts and Culture

1. In what significant way has an experience with arts and culture influenced your life or thinking?

As a child living in the Latrobe public housing, I worked with other young students a few miles and across the Orleans Street viaduct to visit the Walters, the Pratt and the Peabody to absorb knowledge, art and culture. That experience inspired me to become an avid reader and appreciate a much broader world than my own.

Arts Education

The Maryland State Board of Education has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs.  While many Maryland schools have excellent arts education programs, this is not the case in high poverty areas of Baltimore City, where programs are often non-existent (a violation of State regulation COMAR 13A,04.16.01). A substantial body of research links arts involvement with improved cognitive development, stronger academic performance, and lower dropout rates.

2. What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in music, visual arts, as well as theater and dance, taught by qualified professionals in all Baltimore City Public Schools?

As the founder of a STEM and later a STEAM academy, I did just that by requiring that all students learn to play an instrument and participate in one of several school ensembles. I hired a full time Arts instructor, although I was not required to do so, and contracted with a performing arts organization to teach in the extended day program. As Mayor, I will provide stronger education funding along with the requirement that the Arts are mandatory.

Leadership & Decision Making

The arts and culture industry in Baltimore generates $388.2 million in total economic activity, supports 9,505 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $260.4 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $33.9 million in local and state government revenue. (Arts and Economic Prosperity IV/Americans for the Arts 2010)

3. How will you include a range of artists and arts organizations in setting policy for the arts and culture sector? Will you develop a cultural plan for the arts, and if so, what strategies will it deploy?

As Mayor elect, I will invite artists and arts organizations to serve on a transition team to greatly help determine what BOPA should look like going forward and how it can be most responsive to the greater arts and cultural community. After being sworn in, I would ask a similar panel continue to assist in planning going forward

Equitable Funding

The Baltimore arts ecosystem is home to a wide array of important organizations – from large to small.

4. How will you ensure that your annual budget results in stable and equitable funding fairly benefiting communities of color?

Funding should be shared according to community need and commitment to quality of programming and involvement. Funding should always be provided to communities of greatest need particularly those most lacking traditional support. I will order the city budget to address same.

Community Vibrancy

Our post-industrial city has many assets that could be utilized to further the work of the cultural community.

5. What actions will you take to help artists and neighborhood organizations enhance community vibrancy on a block-by-block level? How will you make city-controlled resources, such as under-utilized buildings, available to arts groups? How will you streamline the permitting process for neighborhood arts programming and events?

All city procedures should be streamlined to assist and not hinder fair and equitable process. Determining an overall strategy for underutilized buildings will lead to more gifting of such property to artists and arts organizations. Cultural assets and community assets mapping should be done and I will support small grants to engage local residents and artists to build neighborhood vibrancy.

City Promotion

Even before the April uprising, the narrative of Baltimore was significantly different from that experienced by its residents. In addition to the great work happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, event-related spending by arts and culture attendees totaled $121.9 million in 2010. (Arts and Economic Prosperity IV/Americans for the Arts 2010)

6. In what ways will you leverage Baltimore’s many arts communities and cultural traditions to improve the image of our city and better market our people, places and events?

We need a branding campaign that turns the negative perceptions of Baltimore on its head!  In the tradition of our great celebration Artscape, we should have several events throughout the year within our communities and market our city as one of arts and diversity.

New arts projects are popping up all the time in Baltimore and those should be promoted together during tourism season and as part of our homeowner recruitment (i.e., through Live Baltimore and realtors). The extensive list of murals, offerings at the Creative Alliance, Station North, Theater Project to name a few, Section 1’s planned urban art park, and the bi-monthly Be More Community Sing that rose from the aftermath of the April uprising are just a few known and hidden art gems in Baltimore that should be branded together.

Strong Communities and Employment Opportunities

The arts and culture sector provides unique and powerful opportunities for healing, change, and building community. Such resources are critically needed to address Baltimore’s current challenges.

7. How will you look to partner with the artists and organizations in your administration to create employment opportunities for artists, cultural organizers, and/or cultural groups across Baltimore city government and to address community needs?

Like the WPA, we will value the work of artists as strongly as all other work of value. Leveraging city funds with foundation and Federal grants i.e. NEA, Robert Wood Johnson and Doris Duke foundations, we will create opportunities for artists and cultural organizers in communities of greatest need throughout our city.