Baltimore is home to thousands of voters who are also artists, theatre, concert, and museum-goers, and people who work in the arts and humanities. They are known to care about core civic issues like equity, public safety and education, and their votes can also be strongly influenced by candidates’ positions on arts and culture.
On behalf of Citizen Artist Baltimore (CAB), a broad-based, nonpartisan get-out-the-vote coalition, we write now to share the priorities of the cultural community and asked that Mayoral Candidates respond to a questionnaire about their arts platform. The candidates’ positions are shared on the CAB web site and distributed widely through many networks including those of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA), and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)—all founding partners of CAB.
Established in the 2016 election cycle, CAB integrates cultural voices into the electoral process, encourages voter registration and voting, and engages with issues of critical importance to Baltimore City residents. Although the COVID19 crisis has turned society and the economy on its head, the arts remain a critical and driving force in Baltimore City. As of 2017, the arts had a $606 million economic impact in Baltimore City and included more than 15,000 jobs according to Americans for the Arts.
Today, the sector continues to play a vital role in providing resources for online education and home- schooling, transforming maker spaces and costume shops to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPEs), and providing resources that support mental health and connectivity as residents live in isolation. Artists and organizations will also be valuable partners in healing, and the rebuilding that lies ahead. Artists are citizens of Baltimore, and their contributions are essential to the City’s ever-evolving reality.
The current pandemic crisis has exacerbated existing inequities in the city. Rates of infection are higher among Black and low-income communities, as are the structural barriers of job insecurity, a lack of health insurance, and inadequate housing. Many artists are part of these communities and are now also finding it difficult, if not impossible, to access unemployment benefits and relief funding.
Thank you in advance for reviewing Citizen Artist Baltimore’s Priorities Statement as sourced from the arts and cultural community. CAB is here to engage with you, so please visit CitizenArtist.vote to learn more.
Jeannie L. Howe, Executive Director, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance
Nicholas Cohen, Executive Director, MD Citizens for the Arts
Sheri Parks, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Maryland Institute College of Art