Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announces Artscape 2010 lineups (side note: WWSRBS?)

Economic times are rough, people. In case you've forgotten, at the June 9 afternoon press conference announcing the various lineups for Artscape 2010, the blunt reality of the City of Baltimore's financial situation--see: "We are faced in the city with the biggest budget crisis in modern history"--was repeatedly alluded to during the brief remarks made at the podium. Lisa Robinson, the WBAL-TV news anchor who served as host, started off by talking about being thankful that in a tough, tough economic time the city can still put on a free event like Artscape. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake touched upon Artscape 2009's economic impact--as detailed in a study prepared for the Baltimore Office of Promotions and the Arts, Artscape's organizer, by Pittsburgh market-research firm Forward Analytics, which estimated last year's 350,000 visitors (47 percent from outside the greater Baltimore metro area, 35,350 from outside the state) spent some $25.97 million in the city, with $9,256,046 of that going to Artscape vendors--before calling it "an incredible jolt in this economy" during her remarks. And this year, Artscape is throwing its own little quasi fundraiser, the $75 a head "Affair of the Art" party July 17, to help insure future Artscape's free status. Financial talk didn't set the tone for the afternoon--in fact, a small coterie of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians performed a lithe, pulse-stirring tango, which BSO president/CEO Paul Meecham attributed to Astor Piazzolla--it was just another reminder of that unignorable given in 2010: money is tight. Nevertheless, Artscape 2010 does introduce some new offerings: such as a dedicated Charm City Circulator line running people around the festival's outer edges and Betascape, a technology-focused element incorporating demonstrations, exhibits, workshops, and social events. Also added is a fourth music stage--at the intersection of Mount Royal Avenue and St. Paul Street--providing more opportunities to see bands during the fest. Mayor Rawlings-Blake herself announced the music lineup, which included a familiarly genteel mix of genres and local and national acts. Headliners include Musiq Soulchild, Washington's lively party-starter Wale, consummate crate-digger J-Rawls, southern rocker Gov't Mule, local soul/jazz treasure Maysa, and California indie-rock trio the Cold War Kids. "I know they must be great" Mayor Rawlings-Blake said of this year's lineup, "because I don't recognize but half their names." Her honor is no musical square, though. When talking about the new fourth music stage for this year's fest, she explained that it was going to feature local and regional acts despite being assured by BOPA's Bill Gilmore that it was to be a karaoke stage. It was playful joke, but it did beg the question: What would Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sing?

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