Long-running music rehearsal space Studio 14 in West Baltimore reopened on Monday after obtaining a use-and-occupancy permit and correcting safety violations, said owner Scott Gately.
Tania Baker, director of communications for the Baltimore Housing Department, confirmed Studio 14 had addressed its issues and was free to operate. The permit's use is for audio/visual production, she wrote in an email.
In January, the Baltimore Fire Department inspected the Penrose building at 239 N. Franklintown Road after receiving a complaint. The department shut down the space — which Gately has owned and operated for 27 years — after discovering it did not have a use-and-occupancy permit. It also needed upgrades to its sprinkler system. (The fire department directed The Baltimore Sun this week to the housing department, which issued the permit.)
The shutdown of Studio 14 occurred less than two months after artists living and working inside the Bell Foundry building in Station North were evicted due to safety violations and lack of permits. (Studio 14 never permitted tenants to live in their rehearsal spaces, Gately said.)
Now, Gately is in the process of letting those renters know the studio is open again. He said 20 bands are back in the studio, which has capacity for 45 acts.
A warehouse fire that killed at least 36 people this month in a multi-use arts space in Oakland, Calif., and the shuttering of the Bell Foundry have thrust Baltimore's existing-in-the-shadows, do-it-yourself (DIY) music scene into the light. Artists, their supporters and city officials agree the debate around such spaces is complicated, with issues involving public safety, affordable housing, the value of artists and the appeal these facilities have, despite a sometimes-questionable legal
In the future, Gately aims "to get back to where we were" before the shutdown. He wants Studio 14 to regain its creative, collaborative spirit.
"It's a cool place to exchange ideas, to create the atmosphere for musicians to do what they can to be the best they can," Gately said.
The debate over safe art spaces remains a topic in Baltimore, where Mayor Catherine Pugh formed the Safe Art Space Task Force after the Bell Foundry eviction to identify problems and solutions for artists in search of affordable, safe housing. The conversation first went national after an Oakland, Calif., fire inside a converted warehouse for artists, known as the Ghost Ship, killed 36 people in December.