With $3 million gift, Baltimore School for the Arts expands programming

A $3 million gift to Baltimore City's premiere arts high school will give it another reason to stand out.

Beginning next fall, the Baltimore School for the Arts will expand its programming to include a film and visual storytelling program.


The $3 million gift from local philanthropists Mark and Patricia Joseph will make the School for the Arts the first high school in Baltimore, and among a handful of schools in the country to offer a film program, according to a release announcing the gift. It is the largest single gift the Baltimore School for the Arts has received.

"It really will enhance the school's reputation as one of the premiere high schools in the whole nation," said Mark Joseph, a founder and former chair of the board for Baltimore School for the Arts. "I think it will be a really exciting program, and great for the school and great for the city."

The School for the Arts, whose alum include actress Jada Pinkett Smith, will recruit 15 students to join the film's inaugural program in September 2017, and 15 students every year thereafter.

The school will host blind auditions, where students will be assigned a picture and asked to tell a story about it, on Feb. 4. The school is already pitching the program to middle school students, Joseph said.

He said he invested in the program to bring the School for the Arts because it promotes a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to arts education. The program is designed to have students experience a balance between creative storytelling and technological expertise.

"Digital is clearly the future, and the school needs to be in the forefront of such efforts," he said.

The Joseph's most recent gift to the Baltimore School for the Arts will bring its total investment to $5 million, according to Chris Ford, the school's principal.

"I am humbled by their unwavering belief in our work and the potential of our students," Ford said in a statement. "I am in awe of their brilliant vision for our school's future."

The school has been shaping the program by visiting film programs at high schools and college campuses across the country and bringing leading practitioners and educators in the film industry to its Baltimore campus to advise on building the program.