Recognizing the Importance of Artists as a Significant Economic Driver, Much-Needed in Baltimore.
From my perspective, a successful Artscape is one that invests strategically into our local arts economy–a system that continues to grow at an organic level up to a point, which would benefit from intelligent, research-based, forward thinking institutional dollars, not a one-time, feel-good Oprah-style giveaway.
Perhaps this sounds like a Bidenomics infomercial, but when we invest in the “middle out and the bottom up,” we are making smart public investments that benefit our city as a whole. We also empower and educate the middle class which is a vast and largely untapped resource in Maryland for Baltimore City, and the primary audience members and patrons for a successful Artscape 2023.
This is a chorus echoed by all entities involved in planning this year’s Artscape: the desire to support artists and organizations on their terms, to effect positive change that lasts longer than one weekend, to pool resources to collectively elevate the city through art and culture, and to sustain an economy that supports culture workers.
“This has been a labor intensive learning curve for all of us,” says Miller Hall. “But, if we are investing in creatives and the creative class, creating opportunities for artists to do much bigger projects than ever before, and funding those properly, the passion and commitment you get from our creative community is bar none. The artists are looking for more real estate to activate and we need to continue to support them.”
While I think that this year’s Artscape will be a “rebuilding” year and offer a bit of trial and error, a combination of new attempts and old favorites, I am seeing some indication of positive, lasting change. It recognizes that the arts, specifically ARTISTS, are valuable to Baltimore City, not just as cute show ponies for a weekend festival for tourists, but as part of a greater vision for an economic revival led, at least in part, by actual creative communities, and that these contributions last all year long so the support should as well.
Rain or shine, and despite weather-related cancellations, I hope this weekend festival builds new networks and support for these creatives by attracting vital audiences, patrons, and customers from within and also outside Baltimore City.
From Jill Fannon’s photos from a September 21 Artscape kickoff tour and reception hosted for MD First Lady Dawn Moore and MD State Senator Antonio Hayes, where the first lady announced a $1.5 million investment in Artscape from the state of MD, the goal of bringing different people together to enjoy and appreciate potential and reality of Baltimore-based art and culture is a great start.