Nkemakolam Nwaigwe, an artist known as Qué Pequeño and a former Bell Foundry tenant, says, "This place saved my life because I was on the verge of homelessness when I was offered a studio space over here." (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun video)
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society, one of the groups displaced by the December closing of the DIY artists' venue known as the Bell Foundry, has experienced another setback.
Tools, which BROS artistic director Aran Keating estimates would cost close to $2,000 to replace, are missing from the organization's workshop on the first floor of the building.
"We discovered last night that someone had been accessing the building," Keating said.
BROS members have been keeping an eye on their Bell Foundry space every few days since being displaced by city officials Dec. 5, along with the other users of the facility. The BROS's first-floor space was utilized as a production workshop and rehearsal room.
A broken window spotted Monday led to the discovery of the apparent theft. Among the missing items are an air compressor, chop saw, welder and drill press.
"We have been working with the landlord and city officials since day one of the shutdown to get back into our part of the building," Keating added. "We got permission from the permit inspector to check on things. We just got power restored, which was a big step. The other floors are still boarded up."
There is no date for getting back in on a permanent basis.
Last week, the BROS lost another rehearsal space, when the West Baltimore site Studio 14 was shut down by city official for permit violations as well.
Keating said the group has insurance and is in the process of seeing what's covered by the theft. A Baltimore Police Department Media Relations spokeswoman said that police had been called but a burglary report could not be located immediately.
"It feels like we've been through the wringer," Keating said. "It's demoralizing. But we're determined to turn this pile of doo-doo into lemonade, so to speak. We're not going to be defeated by this. We want the Baltimore Rock Opera Society to still be around 7,000 years from now in Baltimore."
Toward that end, the organization has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds that wil lead to "acquiring an equity stake in a permanent home for the BROS community and for BROS performances." A fundraisier at The Sidebar will be held Saturday night to advance this cause.
Some promising locations around town are being considered.
"We want to be out from other people's thumb," Keating said.