1. Tell us a bit about your role & responsibilities as Arts Council Director:
As the Arts Council Director I am responsible for implementing strategic leadership, planning and outreach to artists and the artist community within the city of Baltimore. I also develop and oversee programs and work to develop new initiatives to enhance and support arts resources within the community including institutions, organizations, and individual artists throughout the city of Baltimore.
2. What would you like Baltimoreans to know most about the Arts Council and BOPA’s role in Baltimore City?
We are here to serve them and keep them working in the city! As the City’s arts council I think it is extremely important for people to know that we are invested in helping support artists at every level of professional development as well as keeping communities informed and engaged about the arts.
3. Can you share with us some of the educational programming produced by the Arts Council?
- BrightStARTS Program provides arts workshops, of every discipline, to students from under-served schools in after-school settings.
- The Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, is the nation’s oldest and longest running creative teen competition. BOPA is now the regional affiliate for the State of Maryland and we promote students in Visual Arts and Literary Arts to submit to this competition. This year we’ve received nearly 4000 submissions from talented teens across the state. Students can received publication, exhibition, and scholarship opportunities as a result of submitting their work. We’re particularly glad to bring this to Baltimore City youth.
- Art @ Work is a five-week mural artist apprenticeship program for Baltimore City youths enrolled in the Youth Works program. Young people ages 14–21 are hired to work under lead teaching artists and artist interns to create beautification projects throughout their neighborhoods.
- Youth Arts Council –The Council is made up of 6 art-loving teens from across Baltimore City and is designed by and for teens to inspire and empower other local youth through arts programming and advocacy.
4. What do you find most rewarding about your role?
There are so many things I love about my job, so I’ll try to keep this short. First of all, the entire BOPA staff is amazing but I have to say working directly with the Arts Council is such a highlight for me. I don’t think people realize just how much they do. They produce and manage so many projects and are so connected within communities. One day a team member could be working to secure a prominent artist for a high dollar contract and the same day they are making time to personally connect with an elderly homeowner just to ensure they understand what it means for them to give permission to create a mural on the side of her home. I love doing mission driven work and I love doing it with these people.
5. What did you do before BOPA?
I have a twenty-year history as an arts administrator and educator, and have worked with several arts and community organizations in Washington DC, NC, and NY. My most recent role was working as the Regional Director, DC for Writopia Lab, working with creative professionals and youth in the area of literary arts in the DMV area. I did that for 6 years.
6. What’s something that you have learned since starting this role?
I’ve learned to just breathe and everything will be okay. It sounds silly, but for me it’s really true. It takes time to really learn the collective needs of artists in the city and how we’re supposed to be truly serving them. I need to pace myself. Some days I feel like I am moving at warp speed because I want to do so much in so many areas. But I’ve learned to slow down and to literally take it day by day.
7. As we approach the end of the year, what are you most proud of from the work that the Arts Council has accomplished in 2019?
Oh goodness how could I choose? I am proud of the opportunities we provide to artists, students, and arts organizations. I am also proud of the commitment to the city and how we impact the cultural economy, community and landscape with our programming.
8. And last but not least, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Reading and re-reading anything Toni Morrison, writing, and spending time with my family.