“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Baltimore City and the nation raise our voices to combat racism, BOPA supports the right of everyone to speak up against injustice and inequality. Racism is everyone’s problem and cannot be tolerated. None of us escapes the scourge of racism in America or globally and all of us must work together to combat the pervasive callous indifference to life and liberty.

Our Constitution affords us the right to peacefully assemble in protest. Like the right to life, liberty, and justice, freedom of speech is an inherent right for all Americans. As artists, we process what is happening and what we hope for the future through our images, music, and words. Art is an effective and necessary form of activism and peaceful protest.

Art as activism has a long history in moments of struggle across the world. But it documents the present for the future and the art that we create remains and helps shape the narrative of history. For it is often through the arts – through murals, novels, poems and more – that we can most clearly show the world around us, challenge it and, hopefully, change it.

As we remember George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the many others that were murdered at the hands of injustice, it is incumbent upon all of us to use our voices, our art and our vote to demand much needed change. 

Donna Drew Sawyer
CEO, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts

Strategies for Stability and Sustainability (Arts Leadership) & Best Practices for Digital Art Engagement


The arts sector experienced unprecedented loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The estimated total economic impact to date is $5.5 billion, nationally, and $14.6 million in Maryland. 95% of all scheduled events were cancelled resulting in 1.3 million Marylanders, and 57.3 million Americans, not attending arts events.

As an immediate response to the pandemic, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), Maryland State Department of Education’s Fine Arts Office, Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance, and Maryland Citizens for the Arts collaborated to offer four public LISTENING SESSIONS. The initial sessions were attended by 250 stakeholders who shared recommendations and prioritized actions to mobilize support. Through the public sessions, consistent communication guided independent artists to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and arts organizations to think of themselves as small businesses, and, for both individuals and organizations, to encourage the pursuit of applicable state and federal loan and grant programs.

In addition to the LISTENING SESSIONS, three recurring virtual communities were established to deal with immediate concerns in real time, provide updates, hold the space for peer-to-peer sharing, and offer relevant professional development. A common thread evident in all public sessions was re-envisioning of the arts in Maryland. Total constituents in the combined virtual sessions numbered greater than 1,000 attendees, and the information collected formed the basis for the guiding documents below:

The Future of Maryland’s Arts Sector: Strategies for Stability and Sustainability (Arts Leadership)

The Future of Maryland’s Arts Sector: Best Practices for Digital Arts Engagement

Exploring art as a tool to improve social justice in African American communities in Maryland.

Join the Banneker-Douglass Museum for a “Virtual BDM” online panel discussion exploring art as a tool to improve social justice in African American communities in Maryland. Speakers will share their experiences with the Black Vote Mural Project, voter suppression, mass incarceration, and policies that adversely affect communities of color.

Thursday, June 4, 7-8:30 PM.

To register and access the panel discussion, please visit here.

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Artwork: “Everything We Own” by Amy Boone-McCreesh, FY19 IAA Winner

The Maryland State Arts Council’s Independent Artist Awards (IAAs) recognize achievement by Maryland artists who are working independent of an institution or organization. The awards are accompanied by grants of $2,000, $10,000, and $15,000 that encourage artistic growth and sustained practice.

2021 IAAs will recognize artists in the Visual/Media Arts. Artistic categories rotate in a three-year cycle. Literary Arts applications will be accepted in 2022, and Performing Arts applications will be accepted in 2023. Eligible artists may apply to the category they feel best represents their work.

Applying for an Award

Applications for the 2021 Independent Artist Awards are now available. To apply, click here

Deadline: Friday, July 24, 2020 at 11:59pm. 

The full guidelines for the 2021 Independent Artist Awards can be found here.

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This Thursday, June 4, the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards national ceremony, traditionally held at Carnegie Hall, is being transformed into a virtual affair to celebrate the national recipients. Chris Colfer, Lena Dunham, and Jennifer Garner will headline the virtual Ceremony to honor the nation’s most talented teen artists and writers.

The 60-minute virtual celebration will begin at 6:00pm ET on June 4, 2020, and can be viewed here: https://www.artandwriting.org/celebrate/

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Presented by Creative Alliance, Made in Baltimore honors and awards the best filmmakers in the Greater Baltimore region. The festival will select short films that push the envelope and inspire audiences to view film and video through a uniquely Baltimore lens. Made In Baltimore will accept fiction, documentary, animation, experimental, horror, mockumentary—you name it! Submissions will be judged on technical excellence, originality, and Baltimore flavor. Those who live, work, or study in Baltimore are encouraged to submit.

All submissions are due by Saturday, August 15, 2020.

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