A free, monthly presentation of performances and art exhibitions in Station North known as Alloverstreet is on hiatus, organizers announced, as they reconsider the program's role amid citywide discussions on arts spaces and safety.
The decision is the latest in the continued fallout from the closing of the Bell Foundry, a Station North building where artists lived and worked that the city shut down for safety and housing violations in December. After the Bell Foundry’s shuttering, Mayor Catherine Pugh formed the Safe Arts Spaces Task Force to find solutions to problems surrounding affordable housing and workspaces for artists.
Station North Arts & Entertainment District executive director Elissa Blount Moorhead said Thursday that the hiatus is a “proactive” decision to reconsider the program’s role in the arts scene, while protecting the artists from further scrutiny as to how they live and work.
“It’s us wanting to be good stewards and understanding the landscape,” said Moorhead, a member of the mayor’s task force. “We don’t want to participate in any activity that will make [artists] more vulnerable.”
The decision did not come as a result of inquiries from city officials over conditions at participating spaces, Moorhead said.
“We don’t have any evidence of any problems,” Moorhead said. “It’s just us trying to be good allies to those spaces.”
Started in late 2013, Alloverstreet was a popular event that brought attention and foot traffic to artists and arts spaces mostly located on East Oliver Street, including the Copycat Building, Area 405, Gallery CA, Baltimore Design School, Tastykake Gallery and more.
Attendees would walk from space to space, encountering installations, exhibits and performances along the way. The event also acted as a social gathering and exchanging of ideas for many members of the city’s arts scene, with happy hours and artist talks hosted before exhibits opened.
Kimi Hanauer and Lee Heinemann directed Alloverstreet for its first two years, then Station North assumed the project. (Hanauer is Station North’s current program director.)
The goal of Alloverstreet has always been to support artists, Hanauer said, and the decision to halt the program falls in line with that thinking, given the recent news surrounding arts spaces here.
“This is proactive in the sense that this is what we feel is supportive at this time,” said Hanauer, a regular attendee of the safe arts task force’s meetings.
Hanauer was not sure when Alloverstreet would return, or in what form. She plans to get input from members of the arts community before moving forward.
“I’m confident that the ideas within the program will continue to be on my agenda,” Hanauer said, “but I don’t want to say that I know exactly what form that will take.”