Are you looking for rental space for your art, dance, music, or theater classes?

Children’s Chorus of Maryland & School of Music (CCM) is renting out rooms of various size for classes or activities during the week and at select times on the weekends. Proceeds from the rentals will be used to support scholarships for children to attend our music education program. Religious organizations and schools receive nonprofit discounts. Our school is located near downtown Towson and includes free parking!

Rooms # 1- 4 have bright colored walls: #1–yellow, #2–green, #3-blue and #4 purple. The largest room, #5, has white walls and recently installed full length rehearsal mirrors. A two stall woman’s and one stall men’s bathroom are accessible to all rooms. Off street, free parking is available in the building’s parking lot. All rooms are handicap accessible. Renters are responsible for moving folding chairs, white boards and minimal furniture out of the way, if needed, and returning the room to its original condition after use.

  • Rentals available for weekly, monthly and year-round schedules.
  • One time use available upon special request.
  • Rates vary based on room size and length of lease.
  • A security deposit is required.
  • Schedule an appointment to view the rooms.

Room Sizes Available

  1. 13’7″ x 13’6″
  2. 13’7″ x 13’6″
  3. 19′ x 17′
  4. 19′ x 16’5″
  5. 23′ x 38’4″

Times Available

  • Monday through Friday – 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
  • Monday, Tuesday & Thursday – 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Saturdays – 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Sundays – 8:00 am to 9:00 pm

To find out more, visit CCM’s website at http://www.ccmsings.org/donate/?page=1 or Contact Erin Barach, Marketing Coordinator for rates: ebarach@ccmsings.org / 410-494-1480

  1. What is your role as BOPA’s exhibitions manager? What does a typical day look like for you?

I manage three exhibition spaces for BOPA. With three gallery spaces and a studio residency program, School 33 Art Center is the largest and most complicated operation- I also manage exhibition spaces at Top of the World Observation Level and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. At Bromo, we rotate shows every six months, and once a year we open a new show at Top of the World. School 33, on the other hand, turns over all three of its gallery spaces every two months.

So a typical day or week would be a balance of doing studio visits with artists, booking new shows, working with communications to publicize these shows, working with artists and curators to build the shows and to facilitate the needs of the artists, and then of course installing the exhibitions and holding opening events. Those are the basic things, with many little moving parts working to make those things happen. I also manage calls for entry. Every year we have a dual call for entry for two concurrent exhibitions. We hire nationally recognized curators and advertise the call nationally as well. From there the curators choose select groups of artists, responding formally and conceptually to what comes in. Additional calls for entry go out on a yearly basis for our Project Space and Members Gallery.

Every two years, we hold our School 33 Studio Resident Biennial. School 33 has a very robust studio program with nine beautiful spaces, and currently we have ten incredible artists in those studios, working in a variety of visual media. Residents work with a mentor/curator, who does a round of critiques with them, then going on to build an exhibition based upon what the artists are currently exploring with their work. Mentor/curators can be professional artists or curators, critics, or professors (and sometimes all or a combination of the above). So that’s what we have coming up starting on June 30, with an opening event on Friday, July 7 from 6-9pm. The Biennial exhibition will run through August 19.

Upstairs at School 33 we have our Project Space, for which artists propose installation work, projection, and sometimes even mini exhibitions. We work with the artists to realize these works, which are tailored to the existing space. We work with artists of all skill levels- from emerging to nationally recognized artists, so it’s a bit of a mix.

  1. Where were you before BOPA, and what led you here?

A lot of different forms of experience led me to this position. I am an artist myself- I create large-scale installation and performance works, having graduated from the Maryland Institute, College of Art with a degree in Fibers. I began curating in my early twenties, working with a collective of artists to form the live / work / gallery space The Whole Gallery at the H&H building (in what is now the Bromo Arts and Entertainment District), where we held many group shows and worked closely with three other floors of artist collectives who each had their own thing going- theatre, music, visual art, et al, to schedule building-wide events. During this time and for about a decade after college I worked in theatre, in all manner of costume- wardrobe, production, design, and management all over the Baltimore and DC area. For about twelve years after this I held a management position at an interior design workroom in Baltimore. I managed the workflow, placing items into production, scheduling site visits and installations, and dealing with clients and designers. The hours were very reasonable, four days a week, so I was able to maintain a robust studio practice and exhibit my work widely.  At the same time I was developing and teaching garment and performance based courses at MICA in the Fiber department, and teaching Stage Production at Baltimore School for the Arts as part of their TWIGS (To Work in Gaining Skills) program. I managed all of those things concurrently for a good number of years.

I’ve been a part of the performance and visual art community in Baltimore since I was a teenager, working both solo and in many collaborative situations,  and in that time I have built up a lot of connections, partnerships, friendships, and resources that I am able to bring to the table. I mounted two large projects at School 33- with my predecessor, René Treviño- A solo performative, participatory installation in the first floor Main Gallery in 2010, and a collaboration with Kelley Bell and Linda DePalma for the Co-Lab(oration) Project- Funded by a grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2013. I have always loved School 33 and all that it has meant to generations of the Baltimore art community for so many years, so In fall of 2014, when I heard that the position of Exhibitions Manager was coming up I thought it would be a good fit for me- and it definitely has been. All of the different things I’ve done so far in my life as an artist, facilitator, curator, teacher, manager, and maker have contributed valuable skills that I use every day on the job here at School 33.

  1. What, in your opinion, makes BOPA different from other organizations?

We are pretty unique, but I think we are best defined by the incredible amount of things that we do, how those things are connected, and the impact we have on our community. There are so many different types of opportunities for artists through the programs and grants that we offer, and also so many opportunities for the public to engage with art via our programming- School 33, our Public Art and Mural programs, Artscape, Light City, etc. One thing that I talk about with my fellow BOPA Cultural Affairs colleagues a lot is how we are able to offer a path of potential growth for artists through the funding and opportunities that we offer. For example, an artist might have a solo show at School 33 and realize a lot of new concepts and ideas through that experience, while gaining a diverse audience for their work. Then they might decide to apply for Artscape and get a little bit of funding to make a project that can be seen and experienced by thousands of people. Perhaps they then get a large commission to participate in Light City, exposing their work to hundreds of thousands of people and possibly garnering international attention- then moving on to show their work internationally or win more large scale, permanent public art commissions.

The mentorship and the resources that we offer- along with the freedom that comes with not being commercially driven- enables us to focus on putting on great shows and events for the public while offering as many opportunities as possible for artists to develop and share their vision. There is nothing quite like what we do.

  1. What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your role as Exhibition Manager?

I’ll go with rewarding first. I really enjoy working with artists and being able to spend time with them and understand their process. Since I’m an artist as well, that’s really inspiring to me, too, in my own work. Helping to enable artists to make or do something that they need the time and space and resources to make or do is really fulfilling. One of the best moments of my job is when an artist, no matter their level of skill or experience, is putting a finishing touch on something that they’ve built- when its all finally coming together- just seeing the look of satisfaction on their faces. Sometimes they even squeal or do a little dance! I know what that feeling is like, and it’s amazing to be a part of that. Then of course, seeing viewers’ reactions to their work- and seeing the artist seeing their reactions… absolutely priceless.  

At BOPA, the most challenging thing is that we all wear a lot of hats and manage a lot of things, but sometimes it can add up to too much of a good thing.  Between working on projects for School 33 and for festivals- facilitating large-scale temporary public art projects for Artscape and for Light City, and running an exhibition program and coordinating an art center, it can be a lot at times. The main challenge is finding that balance- I think that’s a common struggle for all of us. We love what we do, but it’s always about energy and timing.

  1. Being an artist yourself, does it make it difficult sometimes to try to see things impartially?

I don’t know if it’s my job to be impartial- I think everyone brings a piece of themselves into this type of work. I believe that being an artist is a definite strength in this position. As a fellow artist and maker I’m able to know what to expect, how to trust someone and their individual process of working. As someone who has worked collaboratively with artists in many other creative situations I know when to jump in and when to lay off- when questioning something would be an intrusion and when it would help. With my knowledge of many different materials and processes, I also know about the time, labor,energy and emotion it takes to create something. I am also well aware of the financial sacrifices it takes, therefore I do what I can to help mitigate some expenses for artists, especially those mounting new and site specific projects here at School 33. I just try to offer as support as possible, to make the projects that I take on the most rewarding experiences that I can for those involved-  experiences that I myself would want to have as an artist.

 

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you were before joining BOPA

Before joining BOPA I was a touring author. I had just written a book called “Provenance” and was on the book tour circuit. I started the book eight years ago, and it was published at the beginning of 2016. I’ve been a museum administrator working at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in D.C., and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. I was also a vice president for the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. So I’ve spent the better part of two decades either raising money for the arts or working in the arts and directly raising money within an institution. So it’s been an interesting journey. I came originally from the corporate world. I was with AT&T and Young & Rubicam advertising. After getting some experience with some arts donations we did with Young & Rubicam, I decided I wanted to work in the nonprofit world. But my first job in the nonprofit world was with Sesame Street. I was their Director of Communications. I worked there for a couple of years until my husband took a position in Norfolk, Virginia and that’s when I joined the art community.

  1. What led to your decision to join BOPA?

The mission [of BOPA] was the number one reason, and number two was the people. I always said if I take a position it has to be with people I want to hang out with every day. That was the overarching decision for me.

  1. As Chief of External Affairs, what is the main thing that you will be handling or will be focused on?

My main areas are communications and development, and everything that that entails. Right now my main objective is to find a new development director for BOPA. Really my first order of business is to see where we are and what is going on within the organization.

  1. With your help, where do you see BOPA in the next three to five years?

I would like to see BOPA have a better brand. So that when you say BOPA, people know what you’re talking about, and anticipate that anything BOPA does is the level of quality that we have already established that they’re just not aware of. So my overarching objective is the branding of BOPA not only in Baltimore, but nationally and internationally as well. Because we have great product, people just don’t know it’s ours. As I said, I started off in advertising with Young & Rubicam, and one thing about working at a Madison Avenue advertising agency is it’s all about brand.

  1. You wrote the book “Provenance” in 2016 and the main character in your novel is an art collector in the 1930s. Tell me more about the storyline.

“Provenance” is about a young man who finds out at the age of 17 he isn’t who he thought he was. He grew up believing he was a wealthy, privileged young white boy and then his father was hurt in an accident; and as he was dying told his family he had been passing all these years. It starts in 1917 when you find out why the father did what he did and then in 1930 is when the young man finds out who he really is. He flees to Europe because he lives in Richmond in the segregated South, and then he gets in with the art crowd in Paris in between World War I and World War II and becomes a renowned art collector. It’s really a coming of age story and it’s also a story about how art heals. The main character’s name is Lance Henry Withers, and his timeline is filled with historical characters that are real and mixed with fictional characters.

  1. Was “Provenance” your first novel?

Yes. I had never written fiction before. I had this idea in my head and was like, ok this is a book. There was a writing center in Bethesda where I lived, so I just signed up for a class: “Advanced Novel Writing and Memoir” – and I had never written fiction.  I had written plenty of non-fiction before – a lot of press releases, white papers, backgrounders, everything – but never fiction.  I had to have 35 pages of a working novel to get into this class. So I sat down and wrote 35 pages and got into the class, and from there, the book came. I found five other writers who were about the same stage I was, we formed a writing group, and we shepherded each other through our books. I think in order to be a good writer observation is key, but that’s also true with art, communications, and development.

  1. What is your favorite event that BOPA produces? Or your favorite location that BOPA manages?

Well, it’s gotta be Light City right now. I think what I like the most about Light City is how much of the arts it encompasses. It’s the intellectual part with the Labs; the visual part with the art; it’s the community – all the things that the arts do for a place or people, Light City does. So I have to say, so far, I like it. I like that all of BOPA’s programs are so inclusive. Having worked at the Hirshhorn which was very exclusive – this is my preference. I want to see how art touches people. Walking around the harbor and seeing people react to the art installations was just addictive. The only thing I like better than that is talking to the artists, and them telling me what they’re experiencing and how they’re communicating that to the rest of the world.

1.What does it mean to be the Director of Special Events? And isn’t every event BOPA produces a “special event”?

Being the Director of Special Events means a lot to me, and it’s very exciting as you get the opportunity to be involved in international/national events such as Light City, Star-Spangled Spectacular or a Super Bowl Parade. But you also get the opportunity to do small community events like the MECU Neighborhood Grants where you have twenty people attending a small workshop compared to 100,000 people at major event.    I enjoy seeing people having a good time.  It’s especially exciting  when you’ve booked an attendee’s favorite band, and you see them at the front of the stage dancing,  singing,  and jumping with excitement in  seeing this band, and it’s all free.  It’s so rewarding to see people’s expressions and gratitude for the special events we present.

2. How did you become the Director of Special Events? What’s your history/background? What led you to this position?

It’s very funny because I went to Villa Julie College [now Stevenson University] to become a business legal secretary.   I did my internship here and was hired after I graduated.  I was the secretary for the Events Manager (I think that was her title). Then a Data Process Operator, then an events assistant, then was promoted to an events coordinator, then promoted to events manager and finally the Director of Special events.  So it has evolved over the years; I didn’t go to school for this or anything. So my role here has been a very interesting journey – talk about on-the-job experience!

3. How can your average Baltimorean can take advantage of, or find out about BOPA events?

I think the best way now is social media. Back in the day, you could look at a calendar listing in The Sun papers or in City Paper, but now it is most definitely social media and I think word of mouth too.  When folks have a great time at an event or festival they like to share their experience, especially when they find out a person is not familiar with the event or festival.

4. What goes into planning special events for BOPA?

It depends what the event is, but some consistent things include: attention to details,  a good timeline, sticking to the budget,  the support  of city services and the number one goal is for the people attending the event to have a good time, and plan to come back the next year.

5. What do you wish more people knew about BOPA and all the events that you produce?

I think a lot of people don’t know about us period. We need to do a better job of tooting our own horn.  We do a lot of events and special projects, and offer a lot of services that people don’t know about or think it’s done by “The City” so we need to celebrate and spread the word about ourselves more.

6. Is there any particular event that you’ve had a hand in that is your favorite?

My favorite event is the Monument Lighting and the Baltimore Book Festival.  Initially because they were both held in Mount Vernon and I love the intimacy of that neighborhood.  However, the Book Festival is held at the Inner Harbor now and I love it on the water. Probably the most exciting was when we did the first Super Bowl Parade. That was really, really cool.

6a. Was BOPA involved in both Super Bowl Parades and just the first?

We coordinated both of the Super Bowl Parades – makes me smile thinking about it.

6b. Are you a Ravens fan?

Yes!

6c. A lot of people are saying next year is our year [to win the Super Bowl again], so hopefully.

That would be fun! Another thing we’d like to do, hopefully one day, would be a parade for the Orioles.   We did do one, but we won’t mention how long ago that was. A couple of years  back we got excited about the possible chance of doing something, and I think we even met with the Orioles, but..   Now this is going way back, I’m telling my age.  When Cal Ripken hit 2,131 [games], we did a parade for him- marching bands, floats, etc.   The parade went down Charles Street, and somehow Sports Illustrated got a great picture of the float going down Pratt Street with me and another staff person walking behind the float.  The picture was in the special issue of the magazine dedicated to Cal.   I always said I was going to get a copy of the magazine, but never did.  I’ve done and seen a lot of amazing things working at BOPA.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your background and when you started working with BOPA.

I’m not from Baltimore originally, I moved here in 2002 to go to MICA. I studied sculpture at MICA, but I did a lot of community-based things in neighborhoods and after school programs. I was really interested in learning about the city, because I wasn’t from here. Everything about different neighborhoods’ histories really excited me, so I did a lot off-campus learning about different communities. After I graduated from MICA in 2006, I started working at Parks & People Foundation as an Americorp, but ended up staying on there for 3 years. In that position I worked with a lot of community groups and Friends of Parks groups while doing my own artwork.  I started at BOPA in 2013 after taking a break from working full-time when we had our second son.  This position opened, and if I was going to go back to work, I was really excited to work for BOPA. Over that time I had been doing projects that were funded through BOPA and I did work for Artscape almost every year, so I was really excited to be a part of this side of it.

2. What is the Percent for Art Program and Public Art Commission? What types of work get created from both?

The traditional field of public art emerged around the idea of using or commissioning art to improve a specific place. We tend to track public art back to a movement in the 1950s-60s called the Percent for Art Movement. In the 50s-60s, buildings got more modern, and a lot of the adornment was taken away so the addition of art became a separate thing. So cities began creating Percent for Art Laws; Philadelphia was the first, and Baltimore was the second city to have such a law. The idea being, when a new project was built with public money—anything from a swimming pool to a park to a building—that the city should set aside 1% of that funding for art. The idea of including art is great, but someone has to figure out how to find and select artists, bring the artists on board in the middle of this construction project, and manage the project between the builders and the artists. That’s where the Public Art Commission and project managers come in. The Public Art Commission is appointed by the Mayor and oversees the spending of the money and approves the artists that get picked.  Myself and our staff act as the liaisons between the artists, the projects and the Public Art Commission. We write the calls for artists, find out what projects are coming up, try to preserve artworks that have been built before and have monthly meetings to present on the status of current projects and discuss upcoming opportunities.

3. How do Public Art and the Percent for Art Program fit into the larger mission of BOPA to make Baltimore a more vibrant and creative city?

In the guidelines for the Percent for Art program, it states that the mission of putting art in public places is to enhance the lives of citizens and viewers, and to allow opportunities for artists to use as much creativity and imagination as they can to enhance the built environment. When this works out it’s really beautiful, and artists can really enhance the quality of urban life, and add a little magic to someone’s daily experience.  We just did a project for the Waverly Library, after the library got completely renovated. Ebon Heath made a beautiful relief behind the circulation desk that comes off of the wall in different layers and it’s all composed out of words that were collected from the community. So every time someone comes in there they can look for their name or their words, its mesmerizing and you can get lost in it. When the Canton Library was renovated, the artist there, Julie Girardini created boat sculptures to reference how close Canton is to the water’s edge.  One of the sculptures contains little pages of images, like a book within the sculpture. When you start turning the pages you realize all the images are historical pictures from the Canton area and the ship building history of Baltimore. In both cases these artworks are not just decoration, they spark your imagination, and also remind you to think of the bigger picture of where you are.

4. What is the process for commissioning a new piece of public art?

Most Percent-for-Art projects start with a Request for Qualifications. We are usually not asking for proposals or ideas, because that would require the artist to provide their ideas for free and on Percent-for-Art Calls we want them to develop their concepts once they have the commission. So the Public Art Commission looks at the applications and selects an artist, the artist develops concepts and again presents their concepts to the Public Art Commission.  When the concepts are approved they start designing all the details of the project. Throughout the process, they have to come back and talk through elements of the project with the Commission from design details to material choices. Then, they install the work. When the work is completed, it is under warrantee for a year with the artists, meaning that it’s their responsibility if it breaks or falls down. After that, it’s part of the city’s collection and it’s up to us to maintain it with the owing agency.

 

 5. What are some of the biggest challenges you face working with public art projects?

One of our biggest challenges is conveying to some of the partners we work with, what the benefit of public art can be. It’s easy to say that art would either slow down a project or detract from it, when it would actually benefit it a lot. The artwork we are adding to these public locations is not just decoration or an add-on. They are sometimes integrated into the function of the space or location, in other ways they go beyond just filling the wall, and speak to the history of the future desires of that community.

Any challenges with selecting the artists?

The hardest part with selecting artists is seeing so many talented artists and not getting to select them all. The selection process and seeing them come up with the ideas is the most fun. I love the artist selection process because it brings together people from the neighborhood, people from the facility and people from the Public Art Commission. So you get to talk to different folks and learn what they value and what’s important to them. The stories that come out of that are really interesting and I like getting to know the people and the neighborhoods throughout that process. That larger group narrows down the applicants from anywhere from 50 applicants to four to seven recommendations. So that group has done so much work to make sure that their recommendation gets a fair chance. Then, the smaller group goes to the Public Art Commission and they decide the final selection. It’s a very democratic process, it feels like you’ve had this primary and then it goes to the Electoral College or something like that.

  1. What are some of the biggest rewards from working with public art?

So we are about to have the unveiling of the Waverly library art project tomorrow (Friday). I’ve been here three years and that’s the second full project I’ve seen from beginning to end. I think the biggest reward is having someone put their art in and watching them hand off their project. Also seeing the pride in those folks that helped select it and helped work with it, and now they’re like, “I helped get that there.”

If you and your family live in the same place for a long time, you see the environment change. Even though artwork is such a small piece of that, it’s really been amazing to be in Baltimore for 14 going on 15 years, have a family here and being able to go “When I moved here that mural was different, but we restored that 3 years ago, and now it looks like this.”

  1. Anything else you want to add?

There are so many public sculptures that fall outside of the public art program but still make the city really interesting. You can study the history of those objects and learn a lot about the city. Like last year, we had a special commission to review the Confederate Monuments in the city. I learned so much about how they were made and the history of Baltimore that I thought I knew, but didn’t really know.

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Q. What is BOPA’s Film Office responsible for?

A. The Baltimore Film Office is responsible for marketing Baltimore as a destination for film production companies to do business in the city. We are trying to attract these companies because they provide an enormous economic benefit to the city by creating jobs, supporting small businesses and the general economic activity. We’re also showcasing all types of locations that the city offers. Once they decide to come here, we’re the liaison between the production company and city agencies, so we expedite all the city services like getting permits for a street closure.

Q. What is your role with the Baltimore Film Office?

A. I am the director of the Baltimore Film Office. In the industry, I’m referred to as the Film Commissioner. And this was a great fit, it’s really important for the director to have experience in the film industry. Fran Carmen, who is the logistics coordinator for the Film Office, and I both have been doing this for 30 years. Fran worked for DOT (Department of Transportation) and I was a location manager. My first feature was Avalon in 1989, before that I worked on commercials.

Q. About how many projects get filmed in Baltimore annually?

A. Every year we get about 100-120 projects. In Fiscal Year 16, we had 135 projects shoot in Baltimore.

Q. So it’s not all movies and TV shows that get filmed here?

A. No, for instance we have Audi doing an electric car commercial here Friday night, these types of productions are a big part of our market -commercials, independents, political shots, reality shows, still shoots – all of these productions hire local crew and actors and contribute to our economy.

Q. How do you think filming in Baltimore is beneficial to the city i.e. economically, or with perception?

A. Part of why this industry is important besides the jobs and the economic impact is tourism—when people see places on the big screen they want to come see where certain things are filmed. There are places in Hairspray and some of the older films and on a bigger scale like Wedding Crashers, people will go to Easton to stay at the Inn at Perry Cabin or sail on the Schooner Woodwind, so film tourism is a big thing. I always look at it in a positive way, that this is an industry that creates jobs and economic impact as well as a sense of pride of having something filmed in your city.   Filming presents us as a diverse city because we have so many different looks—we have modern buildings, we have seaports, we have historic buildings and amazing architecture throughout the city.

Q. What is your favorite part about working with the Baltimore Film Office?

A. I like challenges and problem solving and every day is something new. It’s constantly changing. I like being out in the field and exploring Baltimore. I think one of the reasons I went into location managing to begin with is, because I travelled and backpacked through Europe after college and I loved it.

 Q. What is your favorite film/tv show that you’ve worked on that’s been filmed here?

A.For me, it’s personal because I was a location manager on Avalon so that was my favorite. It was a big budget film for that time; it was Barry Levinson’s love story to Baltimore about his family coming from Russia to Baltimore. It spanned many periods starting in 1919 so it was a beautiful period film.

Q. You’re BOPA’s Cultural Affairs Director. What does that mean?

A. I oversee the Cultural Affairs department, which carries out most of the arts council functions of BOPA, the city’s arts council, events center and film office. So that means we have grant programs, education programs for children and adults, an arts center at School 33 and exhibition spaces at the Bromo Tower and Top of the World. We work with other arts organizations in the city on different projects as much as possible to build up the arts community.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your history. When did you begin working at BOPA?

A. I moved to Baltimore 17 years ago in 1999 from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. I began working in Baltimore at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where I was administrative assistant to the contemporary art and painting and sculpture departments. I moved to BOPA in 2002, and I’ve been here since then.

Q. What roles does the Cultural Affairs department play in the arts community specifically with opportunities for artists?

A. We work very closely with the events department here at BOPA to offer employment opportunities for artists—to present their work, design work, to help us install work and perform at various events like Light City, Artscape and the Baltimore Book Festival. We also work in partnership with many different groups to strengthen the arts community by administering grant programs such as the Creative Baltimore Fund, Free Fall Baltimore, Neighborhood Lights, the Transformative Art Prize and Lots Alive program that fund art projects within the community. These are all programs that bring together artists and communities, to enliven our neighborhoods and provide artists with opportunities to work in the community.

Q. People might not realize the importance BOPA places on arts education. Can you talk a little bit about BOPA’s arts education initiatives?

A. We have a program called Bright StARTs, which works with already established after school programs to provide arts education to students. We provide artist teachers and supplies and place the teachers in various after school programs as needed. After school is such an important time, a lot of kids have parents who work so they go to after school centers until their parents come home. Helping the centers with quality programming is a big part of the Bright StARTs program.

We are also beginning a program that will focus on Baltimore City artists that are involved in the 2017 Light City festival. The program will feature them along with educational information for teachers so that they can use the information in their classrooms to explain contemporary art and show it to their students. It’s often an area that teachers are not that well versed in and don’t understand well, so this is going to help them not only to find out what artists are doing in Baltimore but to find out what contemporary practices are in place. It’s a tremendous opportunity to involve the teachers and through them their students in the kind of work that’s going to be on display at Light City.

We’re also going to be starting a new program called the “Youth Arts Council” where we’re inviting teens who are interested to develop and execute teen activities for our major events like Light City, Artscape and the Book Festival. We’re also going to be focusing them on policy, how policy is developed particularly around art education in schools. This will kick off in the new year.

Q. What is your favorite program that you’ve worked on through BOPA and why?

A. I’d say Free Fall is my favorite. We developed it in 2006 and I’ve been the person that marshals that program every year. I love to give people the opportunity to perform and show what they do. It’s not just performance, but speakers, readings, dance, theater and film – it’s a wide variety of artistic practices that go on in the city that are all highlighted by Free Fall Baltimore. I think it’s the program that covers the most territory, and it’s sort of a unique model in that we work with organizations that are doing programming already and provide them with marketing by sending people to the website. So it really is an open invitation to the city to participate and to explore the cultural activities and opportunities that are out there.

Bonus Questions…

Q. How did Free Fall get started?

A. Free Fall got started in 2006 when the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and the Walters came to the city and wanted to eliminate ticket prices to get into the museums. They wanted support from the city for that for a certain number of years, and we went to bat with them for that and the city agreed. In discussion, we felt like this needed to be bigger than just the BMA and the Walters, and we wanted to have the entire cultural community participate. So we said lets expand on the idea of free entry for the museums and ask the cultural community to do free programming in October. The first year we did October and November but we chose October because it’s National Arts and Humanities month, which is a federal designation that the whole country participates in. We felt like this was the best way to involve the community and to provide them with opportunities to enjoy everything that Baltimore has to offer culturally.

Q. Do you ever find that it’s difficult to select a recipient when you have open applications for artists and communities?

A. Luckily, we don’t have to pick the person or organization, we have a public process where we invite other folks in to take a look at the applications and make decisions. So we’re not in the position of choosing our friend or not choosing our friends. We bring in outside experts to take a look at the applications, that way we get a more appropriate way of dealing with entries and also outside expertise to make those decisions. I’m very glad we’re not in the position of picking and choosing the folks who are chosen for any of our projects. Using an outside panel is the industry standard for making selections.

Q. Anything else you want to add?

A. We have a great team in Cultural Affairs. We have 9 people [in our department] and everybody works their heart out for their own programs and the larger team. I think we’re doing terrific work in Baltimore and we’re trying to be more vocal about the work that we do and our achievements and the partnerships we have in the community. As the arts council, we want people to recognize us [BOPA] for all of the great things that we do.