Artscape Baltimore 2004 kicks off this Friday, and organizers expect more than 500,000 people will converge on the Mount Royal Cultural Area for the three-day event.
"It has been growing every year," said Tracy Baskerville of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, which organizes the free festival, now in its 23rd year. "And we're trying to make it bigger and better every year."
To that end, Artscape will feature more than 200 artisans and craftspeople -- representing musical, spoken and written arts -- a new entertainment stage, the inaugural appearance of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a tour of Baltimore murals and a new series of workshops to give festivalgoers a "hands-on" experience with the arts.
"They're a little bit different, a little edgy for Artscape," Baskerville said of the hip-hop acts. "They're not edgy for Baltimore, but they're new for Artscape." These acts will perform on Artscape's main stage -- now called the Value City Cultural Stage, after its sponsor, Value City Department Stores Inc.
Other top performers this weekend include Isaac Hayes, The Commodores, Violent Femmes, Mindy Smith and Paul Kelly. The BSO performs Friday at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
The second stage being sponsored by Value City is the DJ Cultural Stage, which will feature live and recorded music by a variety of artists. The stage has been moved to Mount Royal Avenue and Charles Street.
"It started two years ago in a small area, but it's been very popular," Baskerville said. "Last year, people were dancing in the streets, so we said, 'They needed a bigger stage.' "
This year features "Hands-On Artscape," which includes 31 workshops that will introduce people to storytelling, ballet, guitar, clowning, street-chalking, beading and stage combat. Artscape will provide the supplies and instruments, Baskerville said.
"We saw it as a way of getting people to participate such that you're just not watching artists or buying things," Baskerville said. The workshops are open to all ages.
The mural tour, which will take sightseers on the Baltimore Mural Program Minibus, will be given on Saturday.
Artscape also has changed its hours this year, opening two hours earlier on Friday -- at 4 p.m. -- and closing two hours earlier on Sunday -- at 8 p.m.
Vendors were arriving earlier on Friday, Baskerville said, and as for the Sunday change, "People were leaving because they are getting ready for work."
The festival also includes performances and art exhibitions at many of Baltimore's cultural institutions, including the Lyric Opera House, Maryland Institute College of Art and Walters Art Musuem. For more information, call 410-522-7300 or click here.
Other events this week include:
The Maryland Economic Development Association presents its Chesapeake Basic Economic Development Course through Thursday at Howard Community College in Columbia. The course is an introduction to the fundamentals of economic development. For more information, click here.
The Greater Baltimore Committee's health care committee meets at 8 a.m. For more information, call 410-727-2820 or click here.
The Greater Baltimore Technology Council presents its Enterprise Roundtable from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management at Morgan State University. The session will discuss opportunities for small businesses in the $250.2 billion federal procurement market. For more information, call 410-327-9148 or click here.
The Greater Baltimore Committee's Public Safety Committee meets at noon. For more information, call 410-727-2820 or click here.
The Technology Council of Maryland presents "NASA Goddard: The Mission, Vision and Beyond" from 7:30 a.m. to noon at Capitol College in Laurel. The seminar will discuss the lunar missions and various technologies necessary for future missions and for repairing the Hubble telescope. For more information, click here.
Maryland Chamber of Commerce sponsors an orientation session for new members at 8 a.m. at the Sheraton Barcelo Annapolis Hotel. For more information, call 410-269-0642 or 301-261-2858, or click here.
The Greater Baltimore Technology Council sponsors an open house at Alexander & Tom's Inc. For more information, call 410-327-7400, send an e-mail to email@example.com or click here.
The Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce presents a seminar on industrial technology and its history from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Museum of Industry at 1415 Key Highway in Baltimore City. For more information, call 410-825-6200 or click here.
Thousands of experts in fire safety, rescue services and emergency medical services meet during Firehouse Expo 2005 at the Baltimore Convention Center through Sunday. For more information, call 952-894-8007 or click here.
The Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce presents its 15th annual Crab Feast from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at North Star Tavern in Reisterstown. For more information, visit online.
The Associated Locksmiths of America Inc. meet at the Baltimore Convention Center through July 25. For more information, call 214-827-1701 or visit online.
The Linwood Center, an educational center in Ellicott City that services children and adults with autism, is sponsoring its annual Linwood 5K Run-Walk at Mt. Hebron High School, also in Ellicott City. For more information, call 410-465-1352 or click here.