I am writing in response to the recent article, “Baltimore mayor, City Council leaders vow to seek ‘alternative’ after BOPA budget hearing disappoints” (June 2). This is a moment of tremendous opportunity for Baltimore to rethink and transparently rebuild the way it supports one of its greatest assets — the arts. I applaud Mayor Brandon Scott, City Council President Nick Mosby and Councilman Eric Costello for their expression of support for the arts sector and for their understanding of its many contributions to the well-being of the city including its $606 million economic impact.
As the leading regional provider of support and services to artists and cultural organizations, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance agrees that it is time to rethink the way the city manages and operates its arts and culture functions.
A new approach is needed to bring back successful citywide events. It is also critical to focus on the less widely discussed city arts council. For the cultural community and creatives, the support of a strong arts council is a necessity and change need not wait.
Like in counties across the state, the Baltimore City Arts Council operates with support from the Maryland State Arts Council. It also relies on funding from the city. As previously noted, the mayor has said that funding for the arts council should remain secure and not cut or dispersed to other agencies. To further demonstrate his commitment and leadership, Baltimore should increase its financial support of the arts to a higher level, more in line with those contributed by most other Maryland municipalities to their arts councils.
Where do we go from here? Mayor Scott’s Arts and Culture Transition Team’s excellent report provides specific, equitable next steps. We have a road map and many willing partners and leaders including the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, its members, and thousands of constituents from around the region. It’s time to reconvene the sector around the transition team’s recommendations, set priorities and move forward.
We can have and deserve a healthy arts council that will help ensure that Baltimore is a place where artists can support themselves and call home. We must also recognize and reinforce the sector as an important contributor to the administration’s overall strategies to attract new residents and visitors, support youth, heal, grow and shine.
— Jeannie Howe, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.
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