Findings from Citizen Artist Baltimore Listening Sessions and Surveys, January 2016
Baltimore is home to thousands of voters who are also artists, theatre, concert, and museum-goers, and creative workers. They care about core civic issues like public safety and education but their votes will also be strongly influenced by candidates’ positions on arts and culture. Citizen Artist Baltimore (CAB), a broad-based, nonpartisan get-out-the-vote coalition, conducted a series of listening sessions with hundreds of voters around Baltimore. Our goal is to communicate those voters priorities with the candidates and mobilize thousands of arts supporters on Election Day.
CAB held seven listening sessions throughout the month of January 2016 in geographically diverse parts of Baltimore City. Sessions were held at The Windup Space (Station North Arts & Entertainment District), Zella’s Pizzeria (Hollins Market), Arch Social Club (Pennsylvania Ave.), Baltimore American Indian Center (Upper Fells Point), Cherry Hill Public Homes (Cherry Hill), Wombwork Productions (Walbrook), and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Mt. Vernon). Members of the CAB steering committee, representing arts and culture organizations of varying sizes and constituencies, facilitated these sessions. City residents who were unable to attend a listening session were invited to participate through an online survey.
Hundreds of Baltimore citizens shared their priorities, values, and ideas about how the city can sustain and strengthen its arts, culture, and humanities assets. CAB sorted, analyzed, and contextualized these responses, distilling them into priority statements of the arts and culture issues most relevant to voters in the upcoming election. Overall, participants emphasized the need for equity and the role of arts and culture in healing and building communities. These were infused into all aspects of the conversations. Three main areas of importance emerged: Healthy Communities, Arts Education, and A Supportive Infrastructure. Participants stated their desire for a citywide arts agenda, strategy, and/or planning process to address these areas comprehensively.