More Drama – City Council’s Idiotic “Entertainment Licenses” Legislation

Previous Story

Baker Artists at the BMA and Anonymous Comments o [...]

Next Story

Out of Order Returns to MAP!

There is an angry swarm of emails circulating around the Baltimore arts community based around new information, and mis-information, about the City Council’s new proposed legislation. The proposed bill is Council Bill 08-0163, which wants to regulate and license “live entertainment” in the name of “hospitality services – promotion and cordination,” whatever the eff that means. According to the City Council website, “The legislation is modeled after best practices currently in place in San Francisco and other cities throughout the country, with the objective of enhancing Baltimore’s stature as a true entertainment destination for both visitors and residents.”

What I heard from local artists was this – the city wants to charge each arts venue that hosts any kind of live performance a fee of approximately $1200 per year. What constitutes live performance anyway? Does this mean if I go to see performance art at Load of Fun, Daniel Stuelpnagel has to cough up 1200 bucks? Does this mean that the artist co-op Current Space has to pay this fee in order to have bands play at an art opening? What about an impromptu H&H Afrobeat Society show? Seriously, in a town that thrives in DIY fly-by-night independent venues, how the hell does the city council think that a.) they can enforce this and b.) that artists have ANY money?

Comparing Baltimore to San Francisco is a nice idea, but there is a reason why I choose to live here. Baltimore does not have the funds, or the excessive real estate costs, or the investment in the arts that San Francisco has. Or the coffee shops, too bad… Maybe if we lived in a town where there were lots of art patrons and affluent art collectors purchasing local work, we artists could afford to pay this fee. But, we do not. Attempting to legislate creative endeavors and to tax events which, honestly, make no profits, is either blissfully ignorant or downright corrupt.

Last time I checked, these bulleted items are all the city’s responsibility. I am already paying rediculously high property taxes and I am happy to do so. But taxing upstart art spaces is like squeezing blood out of a stone – it is not going to happen. Can’t they just leave it alone? Faced with an unpleasant array of options, this legislation could have the opposite effect the council describes and force much-appreciated venues to close.

More idiocy from the City Council: “Baltimore is blessed with many exciting entertainment venues that provide good jobs for our citizens. But we need to do more to grow this dynamic sector of our city’s economy. And, by doing so, we can also make Baltimore a more vibrant and safe city. With this legislation, we will enhance entertainment venues—and we will do it in a way that respects and protects our city’s neighborhoods.”

Oh yeah? Honestly, have any of the City Council members ever been to any event EVER in the Station North Arts District? Have any of them ever bought a piece of local art? Or attended an open studio tour or an art opening? If so, they would get a clue. This piece of happy legislation is a nice fantasy, but doesn’t account the reality of artists and art spaces. HELLO City Council – there’s no MONEY! To get all the facts, check out the link at:

Upcoming Public Hearings and Work Sessions

The Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee and the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Baltimore City Council will hold a series of joint hearings and community-based work sessions on the recently introduced bill #08-0163 entitled “Live Entertainment –Licensing and Regulation – Hospitality Service – Promotion and Coordination Bill.” Please join us at any of the sessions listed below!

Hearing at City Hall
Wednesday, March 4, 2009, 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Clarence “Du” Burns Chambers, 4th Floor

Community Work Session (SE)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Cristo Rey High School, 420 South Chester Street

Community Work Session (NE)
Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Morgan State, Communications Center, Room 101, 5601 Perring Parkway

Community Work Session (NW)
Thursday, April 16, 2009, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Baltimore City Community College, Liberty Campus, Auditorium, 2901 Liberty Heights Avenue

Community Work Session (SW)
Thursday, April 23, 2009, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Federal Hill Preparatory School, 1040 William Street

Hearing at City Hall and Final Vote of Committees
Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Clarence “Du” Burns Chambers, 4th Floor

Related Stories
Fourteen Works of Art of MANY Excellent Choices from the CA Annual Auction

A Subjective and Personal List of Auction Artworks in Preview that I would Love to Acquire!!!

Women’s Autonomy and Safe Spaces: Erin Fostel, Lynn McCann-Yeh, and Cara Ober

In Conjunction with BmoreArt’s C+C Exhibit featuring Fostel’s charcoal drawings of women’s bedrooms, a conversation with the Co-Director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund

The best weekly art openings, events, and calls for entry happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas.

This Week: MICA Community Art & Service Program exhibition, In the Stacks performance at Peabody Library, City of Artists I closing reception at Connect + Collect, Mari Black at Manor Mill, Open Works yard sale, screening of Black Printmakers of Washington DC at Smithsonian Anacostia, and more!

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Katori Hall brings four gay Black men together for the weekend

With The Hot Wing King, Baltimore Center Stage serves up a lively spread of rapid-fire one-liners, spicy moves, and camaraderie that serves as an entree to a discussion of contemporary Black manhood through April 28