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Baltimore needs to support its artists | READER COMMENTARY

Lynn McCann, director of development, gestures among a room filled with borrowable tools in the Station North tool library in a building called "Area 405," which is now for sale Tue., June 22, 2021. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun).
Lynn McCann, director of development, gestures among a room filled with borrowable tools in the Station North tool library in a building called "Area 405," which is now for sale Tue., June 22, 2021. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun). (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

Thanks for the Sun’s recent coverage about the Area 405, the Station North building devoted to affordable artist studio space and other important community resources like the Baltimore Tool Library (”Amid potential sale of Area 405, artist community in Baltimore’s Station North fears being priced out,” June 28). As you reported, potential sale of the building threatens to deprive Baltimore’s vibrant arts community of badly-needed space to support its work.

In 2017, the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Arts Space made a series of recommendations to preserve such spaces and create new ones. Unsurprisingly, the report noted that artist communities improve their cities, create a foundation for defining a sense of place, contribute to a creative and entrepreneurial workforce and attract new residents and visitors. Further, according to Americans for the Arts, the arts and culture sector contributes nearly $17 million in economic impact and is responsible for more than 12,000 jobs in Baltimore.

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While praised nationally, the report was largely and inexplicably ignored by our own city administration, which had commissioned it. Fortunately, Mayor Brandon Scott’s transition team has resuscitated the report and recommended it as a mayoral priority. Its recommendations provide a road map for supporting and nurturing Baltimore’s diverse arts community to help ensure it can thrive. Hopefully, Area 405 can be preserved for continued artist and community use, but that is only one opportunity among many. For those interested, the report is easily available online by searching the task force’s full name and “Baltimore.”

Jon Laria, Baltimore

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The writer was co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Arts Space.

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