The arts have been a major part of my life. My mother is an artist and an advocate for arts and arts education. I grew up spending time in her studio and, when I was old enough, helping her move sculptures. She made sure that my sisters and I had arts experiences whether visiting galleries and museums, going to the theater and concerts, or having dance and piano lessons and Saturday classes at MICA. Because she was concerned that we were not getting an adequate arts education in Baltimore City Schools, she began to fight for arts education not only for us, but for all students in our city and state. She founded the Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance, co-chaired the Governor’s P20 Leadership Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland Schools, and is on the Steering Committee of the Baltimore Arts Education Coalition. In addition, as a long time trustee of MCA, she has helped win historic levels of funding for the Maryland State Arts Council and passage of arts legislation such as the State Public Art bill.
I share her passion for the arts and her belief that they are vital to our lives as individuals and communities. The arts are part of the DNA of Baltimore and an important lens through which to see, understand and value our city and our citizens. This mayoral campaign has provided the opportunity for conversations about our city across sectors and neighborhoods. Some of the most inspiring, insightful, and imaginative discussions have centered on the arts and cultural life of Baltimore.
I am grateful to the three partners—GBCA, MCA and the Deutsche Foundation—for creating the Citizen Artist initiative to engage the arts community in dialogue with Mayoral candidates about the vital role of the arts in our city and city government.
I attended and/or was represented at every listening session. In addition, I have convened my own gatherings with artists for conversations about how, as Mayor, I could help the arts flourish and bring creative possibilities to our city and its citizens.
The conversations developed wonderful ideas. Artists are creative problem solvers and they are deeply committed as individuals to our city in so many ways. In every conversation, there was agreement that the arts are embedded across the city and that there are terrific artists, institutions and programs here. It is also evident that there are great opportunities for growth in the creative culture sector and that equity of access to and participation in the arts for all of our citizens is a critical need.