“Culture is not the icing on the cake, it’s the sugar and the eggs—you really can’t make a decent city or cake without it.”

I was heartened to see the Mayor’s comments following the recent dust-up over city-funded murals on vacant properties in Baltimore.  Art is often ephemeral and that quality can be used as a powerful means to communicate with audiences.  Murals in cities around the country have provoked dialogue about the impact of absentee landlords, dilapidated properties, and the physical degradation of communities.  But they have also focused light on the value of neighborhoods, home, and people who live with a scarcity of resources and respect.  Thank you to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for believing in the “…transformative power of art in our community.”   Given how little public funding is available to the arts and the amazing (documented) return on these scant funds, we should rise above the false argument that somehow money spent on culture is money not spent on public safety, housing, and other basic human needs.  Culture is not the icing on the cake, it’s the sugar and the eggs—you really can’t make a decent city or cake without it.

Although it was City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young who took issue with funding the murals, it is great to see that he has so quickly turned his attention to the important matter of support in public schools for both the arts and physical education (which also should not be considered a luxury).  His commitment to bringing attention to these issues is a step in a great direction.

In an exciting development this year, Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced the revival of the Creative Baltimore Fund and publicized the first round of grantees today.

Speaking of grantees, last night Creative Capital visionary Ruby Lerner joined Deutsch Foundation visionary Jane Brown and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance to present the first round of Ruby grantees.  We couldn’t be more proud of these amazing artists and excited to watch the development of their projects.

Last week, I attended a reception for the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program that brings nationally known writers into public high schools.  The 2014/2015 program in Baltimore receives funding from the Maryland Humanities Council.  The PEN/Faulkner Foundation will host 45 author visits, working with 14 teachers and 550 students in Baltimore City Public Schools.  The program includes donated books and is free to schools and their students.  Wow—thanks to MHC for helping to make it happen!

Remember, it’s not the heat – it’s the humidity,

P.S.   Howard County is “bringing it home” with the Columbia Festival of the Arts.  Be sure to check out the amazing offerings of this two-week long event.


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