Congratulations to the 2014 Baker Artist Award Winners!

GBCA is very excited about 2014 Baker Artist Awards!  Congratulations to Mary Sawyers Baker Prize winners Todd Marcus, Brent Crothers, and Chris Bathgate.  In addition, this year three b-grants of $5,000 each were awarded to Jowita Wyszomirska, Ed Gross, and David Paul Bacharach.  All six will be featured in an exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the fall of 2015 to accommodate the museum’s construction schedule.  But you don’t have to wait until then to get to know the artists’ work.  I hope you will join us next Monday, May 12 to celebrate with our partners at WTMD radio in Towson.  General manager Steve Yasko will be hosting the party at WTMD’s fabulous new studio.  A small exhibition in the lobby will offer guests a taste of the Baker winners’ work. You will also be treated to performances by jazz master, Todd Marcus and his quartet. Also, the first 50 people to arrive will receive a FREE copy the Baker Artist Awards Five Year Anniversary Catalog, courtesy of The Ivy Bookshop!
The Maryland Film Festival (MFF) kicks off tomorrow evening.  Check out their amazing offerings from May 7 through May 11 at sites throughout the city. The Festival is an annual five-day event that presents top-notch film and video work from all over the world. Each year the festival screens approximately 50 feature films and 75 short films of all varieties – narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, and hybrid – to tens of thousands of audience members. MFF Director Jed Dietz and his team always produce an amazing event and are also working toward the development of their future home at the Parkway Theater on North Avenue.
The recent deluge has left many of our friends with offices on the Jones Falls with flood damage.  Please join GBCA in sending your good wishes and support to Maryland Citizens for the Arts and Handel Choir, along with other businesses affected by the flooding of Meadow Mill
Here’s to sunny skies,



Honoring Fred and Jonna Lazarus

As part of his job interview in 1978, Fred Lazarus famously said,  “For Maryland Institute to be a great art college, Baltimore needs to be a great city for artists.” Now 35 years later, the Baltimore community can reflect on his many efforts to make it so.

On Friday night, GBCA and its members joined the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in honoring Fred and Jonna Lazarus.
In the early days, Fred helped bring GBCA to life as a convener and an independent voice for the cultural community.  GBCA was not alone in benefiting from his vision. Through the Lazarus’ efforts, many arts and culture organizations are now a thriving part of Baltimore. We so appreciate their vision, generous spirit, brilliance, creativity, and style.
Just to make sure they have plenty to do in their first year of retirement, GBCA asked its organizational members to cook up a basket of goodies for the First Family of Baltimore arts. Gifts included incredible, one-of-a-kind Fred and Jonna Lazarus puppets created by Michael Lamason and his team at Black Cherry Puppet Theater that are pictured here:

There were also walk-on roles from Center Stage, a T’ai Chi lesson from Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium, a “swag bag” from Single Carrot Theatre, VIP tickets to the MUSE 360 benefit, the incredible opportunity to adopt one of The Walters Art Museum’s treasured works of art,  two all-access passes to the 2015 Maryland Film Festival (MFF) and 2014 MFF poster signed by the Post Typography team, and more than we could possibly list here.  On behalf of Baltimore’s cultural community, we offer Fred and Jonna our deepest gratitude. We hope they have a blast!

Be sure to tune in to MPT’s Artworks on May 1st for the announcement of the 2014 Baker Artist Award winners!
P.S.  Happy birthday, Duke Ellington!

“It gives me great pleasure to announce the 2014 inaugural class of Rubys Artist Project Grant awardees.”

It gives me great pleasure to announce the 2014 inaugural class of Rubys Artist Project Grant awardees.  GBCA is grateful to the Rubys jurors (a full list is available on the website) and to the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation for their vision and support.  The 13 artists selected for Rubys reflect a diversity of talent and creativity for projects including immersive theater, interactive media experiences, documentary film and musical composition.  Congratulations to:
Carla Brown, Catonsville: to support the documentary film about her grandparents, Everyone But Two: The Life, Love and Travel of Benjamin and Frances Graham, which traces the cross-country travel experiences of an African American couple in the 1960s and 1970s.
Lynn Cazabon, Baltimore: to realize Portrait Garden, a multi-part project based on work with long-term inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and presented via interactive posters located throughout Baltimore-area commercial display spaces.
Graham Coreil-Allen, Baltimore: to create SiteLines, a series of sharable videos that explores the invisible sites and overlooked features of our everyday urban environment, and which will present a compelling portrait of Baltimore and its civic space potential.
Eric Dyer, Baltimore: to support the creation of The Zoetrope Tunnel, a 9-foot tall by 20-foot long working walk-through sculpture whose interior animation describes the evolution of the bicycle, both in mechanical development as well as in social impact.
Rich Espey, Towson: for research and development of a new play, Tea with Nelson and Betsie, which explores the moment in 1995 when Nelson Mandela had tea with the widow of Prime Minister Hendrick Verwoerd (the “architect of apartheid”) in the all-white enclave of Orania, South Africa.
Carl Grubbs, Baltimore: to write and arrange new compositions for The Inner Harbor Suite: Revisited, an audio tribute to Baltimore featuring saxophones, strings, group improvisation and ensemble performance.
Kel Millionie, Baltimore: to create an aerial theater production, Fight or Flight, that examines this human condition through the use of aerial movement, invented structures, intense choreography, soundscapes, sampled music and video projections.
Pat Montley, Lutherville: to expand a one-act script into a full length play – Pope Joan II – which tells the story of an American nun who becomes pope and tries to transform the church into a liberal democracy.
Kwame Opare, Baltimore: to choreograph, develop and produce the theatrical dance performance Triumph of Disruption, working in conjunction with, and featuring students from a local arts secondary school.
Matthew Porterfield, Baltimore: to support the development of Sollers Point, a feature film about one Baltimore man’s return to society after a period of incarceration.
Glenn Ricci, Baltimore: to produce The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe, an immersive, interactive theater experience that focuses on the women in Poe’s life and their influence on his fiction.
Olivia Robinson, Baltimore: to support the creation of Near and Far Enemies, a media installation of large-scale electronic textile circuits that describes the relationship between racism, wealth and science.
David Smooke, Baltimore: to compose A Baby Bigger Grows Than Up Was, an ensemble piece for a baritone singer, bass clarinet, trumpet and trombone that uses an alphabetical tale by the Baltimore writer Michael Kimball as inspiration.
All of the artist projects begin immediately or are already underway, and will continue to develop over the course of the next 12 months. GBCA is excited to witness these projects coming to fruition and the impact they will have on the Baltimore region.
The next two calls, Literary Arts and Visual Arts, open on May 1.  Interested artists can learn more by attending information sessions scheduled throughout the month.
All the best,

Please welcome our new Board members!

Since January 2012, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) has experienced remarkable growth and development, including in our governance.  On behalf of GBCA’s already exceptional Board, I am pleased to announce the election of four new directors:

Julia Marciari-Alexander, Executive Director at The Walters Art Museum, previously served as Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the San Diego Museum of Art. She spent over a decade at the Yale Center for British Art, where she curated and directed exhibitions and taught many art history courses. Her special areas of scholarship include 17th- and 18th-century French and British art.

Andrew B. Frank, Special Adviser to the President on economic development initiatives at The Johns Hopkins University, works with internal and external partners to develop and implement strategies to strengthen Baltimore City and the neighborhoods surrounding the student campuses. Before joining Johns Hopkins, Frank worked with the City of Baltimore for 15 years, with three years as First Deputy Mayor for neighborhood and economic development.

Amy Cavanaugh Royce, Executive Director of Maryland Art Place, has worked closely with the Board of Trustees, Staff and Program Advisory Committee to more broadly engage the Maryland statewide arts community and to amplify the organization’s programming initiatives. She was formerly Vice President of ARCH Development Corporation in Washington, DC and is most notably known for co-founding the Honfleur Gallery in historic Anacostia.  She is an active cellist.

Gregory Tucker, Senior Vice President, Head of Americas Corporate Communications for Aegon/Transamerica, is responsible for leading the communications of Aegon’s largest country unit, which operates under the prominent Transamerica brand.  In his more than 25 years as a communications professional, he has held a number of leading communications roles in government, non-profit, the arts as well as financial services. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and is a pianist.

Please join me in welcoming our new Board members!


How You Can Help Deepen Elected Officials’ Understanding of the Cultural Sector

The Maryland General Assembly session closed last night with highs and at least one low for the cultural sector.  First the great news: Governor Martin O’Malley’s historic $16.2 million appropriation for the Maryland State Arts Council endured.  The General Assembly also voted to increase urgently needed tax incentives for the state’s film industry. Unfortunately, the $2.5 million in a special fund for cultural preservation for 2014 and 2015 was used to fund the tax credits instead of the purpose for which it was created. The dust is still settling, but you can learn more details from Maryland Citizens for the Art and in the newsfeed below.

How can you help deepen elected officials’ understanding of the cultural sector? Americans for the Arts (AFTA) is collecting data for its Creative Industries reports, the first to include both for-profit and non-profit businesses. If you represent or support a cultural organization, be sure they are registered with Dun & Bradstreet. AFTA Creative Industries research uses Dun & Bradstreet’s data to document the number of arts-related businesses and employees in any geographical region or political jurisdiction. AFTA has found a uniform under-representation of non-profit arts organizations in the Dun & Bradstreet database, and consequently, in its data. If your organization doesn’t have a D&B number, then you are not represented in the data. Do you part to help advance the arts in America – Sign up and be counted!You need to be a member to access the tools ($50 for individuals), but the reports are a terrific way to report impact and can be narrowed by state, city, county, and legislative districts.
The next round of Rubys grants, Visual Arts and Literary Arts, open on May 1st.  Program manager, Sonja Cendak will be presenting a series of information sessions throughout the region.  Check out the listings below.
P.S.  GBCA is co-sponsoring “An Evening With Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald” on Thursday, April 10 at the University of Baltimore Student Center’s Wright Theater. Hope to see you there!

The Arts and Culture Sector Means Business

It’s no joke: the arts and culture sector means business.  In December, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a first-time report on the impact of the cultural sector on the nation’s economy.  Their findings show that arts and culture production accounts for 3.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product or $504 billion. For comparison’s sake, the highly regarded U.S. travel and tourism industry was 2.8 percent of GDP.
The figures, which include the contributions of artists and select creative industries such as publishing, performing arts, arts education, motion pictures, advertising, and much more can be reviewed in greater detail on the NEA’s website. Not surprisingly, the report also reveals that the cultural sector was harder hit than most by the great recession.  Given its importance to the region and nation’s labor force and to the overall economy, the cultural sector warrants inclusion and attention in creating strategies for robust and thriving communities.
My most recent tour stop was at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for the terrific production of Scab by Interrobang, a recently launched theatre company and new member of GBCA.  I also stopped by to check out the latest big attraction at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  You can bet the just-unveiled and recently returned Renoir, On the Shores of the Seine will be drawing great crowds.  The saga of the little piece has captured the imagination of media around the world and even inspired a story line on the Simpsons.  If you go, be sure to pay attention to the bigger story about collector and philanthropist Sadie May, a pivotal figure in art history and important contributor to the BMA’s collection.
I hope to see you on Monday at GBCA’s Arts and Culture Happy Hour in partnership with the Baltimore National Heritage Area,


P.S. Listening continues to be a fundamental value for GBCA. Please take a moment to complete our survey.

Listening continues to be a fundamental value for GBCA. Please take a moment to complete our survey, linked below.

With the support of our members, funders, partners, and countless others the last two years have been transformative for GBCA. The Baker Artist Awards, the Rubys, professional development, advocacy and marketing have all become a core part of our services. Membership has grown from 80 to 300 individuals and organizations. In June, GBCA will launch a groundbreaking new cultural calendar to replace the and will increase our work on audience development and promotion of the region’s vibrant cultural sector. All of these advances have come with the advice of our membership and the thoughtful input of community and cultural leaders.

As we move forward, listening continues to be a fundamental value for GBCA.

That’s why we’re asking for your participation in this online survey. As a stakeholder, we want to know what’s important to you. What are we doing well? What can we do better?  Is there any place we are missing the boat altogether?  Do you have an amazing idea for GBCA to consider? Make your voice heard.

Please take a few minutes and help GBCA set priorities and ensure that our work going forward is meaningful and is providing the kind of support most critical to the cultural sector, its champions, its audience, and its patrons.

Thank you in advance for participating AND for sharing the survey with as many people from as many organizations as you can.

I am signing off today from National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Congratulations to Maryland Citizens for the Arts for organizing a Maryland delegation of more than 70 advocates from around the state and to the Maryland State Arts Council for their incredible efforts. Among the pressing issues facing the arts and culture sector are funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, preserving tax credits for charitable giving, tax deductions for artists, full funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, arts education, cultural exchange, arts and healthcare, web neutrality, and more.  It is a very full plate and all so necessary. To learn more and see how you can sign on to help, visit the Americans for the Arts website.

All the best,