Priya Bhayana, the first executive director of the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District, is stepping down next month after nearly three years of working to revitalize the west side of downtown Baltimore.
Bhayana began her role in October 2013, and she will depart June 3, according to a news release from the Bromo Tower district board of directors.
She is leaving to pursue independent consulting work and personal projects, the release said, including the Oak Hill Center for Education and Culture, an organization she co-founded that explores strategies for building social and economic justice movements.
During her time as head of the Bromo Tower district, Bhayana worked to build partnerships among artists, merchants and institutions in the newest of Baltimore's three designated arts districts, established in 2012. The district is bound by Park Avenue and Lombard, Paca and Read streets. The city's other state-designated arts districts are in Station North and Highlandtown.
“Priya brought a youthfulness to the leadership for our district,” said Sharayna Christmas, executive director of Muse 360 Arts and a chair of the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment Inc. board’s programming committee. “It was good to have Priya because she connected really well with the artists.”
Bhayana launched an outdoor film series, "Bromo Film Nights," created the "Light Up Lexington" music and food events at Lexington Market — one of which was held Wednesday — and recently spurred the installation of "Bromo Boxes," transforming underutilized electrical boxes on Howard Street into public art pieces by local artists.
"I’ve worked with such amazing individuals and organizations during my time at Bromo — it has been an inspiring and incredibly rewarding experience," she said in a statement. "I’m excited to see Bromo continue to grow and to build on their strong leadership."
It's unclear who will fill Bhanaya's position after she leaves. Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc., said the board of directors for Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment Inc. is hoping to appoint an interim director quickly to oversee the organization's summer programs. The board is working to appoint a new permanent director in the meantime.
Christmas said she’d like to see the next executive director work with the merchants and artists and harness their power in the neighborhood.
“What’s really important for me being involved in Bromo is that the executive director has a really strong vision on how to bring the district to a really strong place,” she said. “It’s really important to have strong leadership in that area.”
Board president Vincent Lancisi, founding artistic director of Everyman Theatre, could not be reached for comment.