Executive Director’s Letter
January 28, 2014
Following the fatal shootings at Columbia Mall last weekend and against the background of a climbing murder rate in Baltimore, I have been thinking about how art connects us with one another and our humanity. Over history, both distant and recent, art has helped humans to peacefully navigate our differences, validate our self-worth, and enable us to process the deepest tragedies.
GBCA’s recent advocacy efforts have reminded us of National Endowment for the Arts research on the impact of arts education for at-risk children, teenagers, and young adults. Not only did the study reveal improved academic achievement, these kids also had higher career goals and greater social engagement. That means they read the newspaper, volunteered, and voted in much higher numbers than those who did not participate in the arts. Engagement equals empowerment and feeling empowered gives you options.
Right here in Baltimore, Shawn Burnett was honored by the Knight Foundation’s BMe program for founding “…Walks of ART Inc to fill the void between urban youth and the arts. The organization aims to bolster a sense of self in Baltimore youth by providing a forum for them to express themselves through drawing, painting, dancing, writing short stories and other activities.”
And art helps us to respond to the unimaginable when it does happen. HealingNewtown through the Arts was established in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy and the subsequent outpouring of contributions to the community in the form of artwork and supplies. Managed by the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, the project centers on the arts as a way to help the Newtown community to strengthen and to heal.
These are just a few examples that demonstrate ways in which arts and culture are integral to our lives, and are not a luxury. From the dawn of time, humans have used art to tell their stories, solve problems, support one another and live together with both beauty and horror.
Rest in Peace Pete Seeger,
P.S. Congratulations to Baltimore born singer Maysa for her Grammy nomination!
P.P.S. Remember, early bird registration for Maryland Arts Day ends this week. What are you waiting for?!