Tell me a little bit about your background? When did you begin working for BOPA?
I began in 1985 as an event coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and Tourism. I oversaw the Baltimore Farmers’ Market, Kid’s Stuff Program, July 4th & New Year’s Eve fireworks, and worked on the Preakness and Thanksgiving Parades. I left briefly to go to the Baltimore Convention Center where I worked as an account executive, then I returned to BOP (Baltimore Office of Promotion) in 1989 as the Assistant Promotions Director. We didn’t become BOPA until 2001 when we merged with the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Art and Culture (MACAC). My role progressed to Director of Promotions, to Deputy Director, then Chief Operating Officer, and now interim CEO.
What does a typical day look like for you? Actually, my days vary and are multi-faceted. They are most often a mixture of pressing matters that need immediate attention and action, combined with items that require long range planning. I usually have a full schedule of meetings in and out of the office. So in many ways, my typical day is not typical. I also get a lot of calls from people outside the office who want to do an event and need help finding a contact or seeking information on logistics.
How has your role changed since assuming the position of Interim CEO?
My role has changed significantly. In addition to serving as Interim CEO, I am overseeing finance during this interim period. Also, as Interim CEO, I interface more with City Hall by attending cabinet meetings and regular touch-base meetings with the Mayor’s Office.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve dealt with since becoming Interim CEO?
I think the biggest and most exciting challenge right now is keeping the momentum going at an effective, productive and creative level. BOPA never has a slow time of year, so solid organization is key. During this period, Festivals Director Kathy Hornig, who has now become interim COO, has been doing an excellent job tracking and organizing all the current issues that need to be addressed. Kathy, Chief of External Affairs Donna Drew Sawyer and I meet on a weekly basis to go over any pressing issues. I find this helpful to keep everyone in the loop, get answers quickly, and maintain steady lines of communication. This is vital because, as you know, we move at a very fast pace here. In addition, we have stepped up our meetings with the department directors, which used to be monthly, to occur bi-weekly. Most importantly, we are very fortunate to have such strong, committed and creative staff here at BOPA to help meet our goals.
What is the most rewarding thing to you about your job?
I find it very rewarding to see the tremendous positive impact our events and programs have on the Baltimore community, both on the arts community and the community at large. Sometimes, we ourselves take it for granted, because when it’s your job, you don’t always stand back and look at the positives, but when you see the media coverage and the economic impact, you realize what a big deal it is. Our reach now, especially with Light City, is becoming more national. We’re getting even more international artists and I hear that in the international light artist world, people are talking about Baltimore. Through our grants, arts programs and festivals, and facilities, we are able to enhance the Baltimore experience and produce good news for our city. It’s good to work at a place where you’re always planning positive and meaningful programs that affect the community and in fact, make people want to come to Baltimore and live here. You can’t do that everywhere.
What are your hopes for BOPA’s future in the next five years? My hope for BOPA in the next five years is that we can continue to do the good work that we do, that we build on our successes and reinforce the BOPA brand. For so many years we’ve done these large events and didn’t say that they were produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. Not everyone knows about BOPA and we haven’t always been good about putting ourselves out there. Now, we realize how important that is that people understand the BOPA brand. It’s also important that sponsors understand we are a nonprofit when we’re going out to raise money, so we can keep our events free and open to the public. I would like to grow our events and programs to include an even larger audience on a national scale, to expand our reach to more national sponsors, and to provide more employment opportunities for Baltimoreans. We employ a lot of Baltimore artists, as you know, and a lot of people through our events, so I would like to expand that.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My answer, if someone asked me why I wanted to work here, would be that you just can’t do this kind of thing anywhere else. It’s very rare that you can work somewhere where you’re doing arts programming, annual events, running facilities, helping to plan a Super Bowl parade or a Fan Fest for the World Series. It’s very unique, and always changing.
1. Where are you from originally?
Baltimore, Maryland. I’m a local Northeast Baltimorean. I went to college in High Point, North Carolina to follow my passion for Interior Design, but realized it was a little difficult to find employment with local Interior Design firms in my hometown. I then transferred up here to Baltimore, graduating from Sojourner-Douglass College with a BA in Business Administration and then received my Master’s in Public Administration specializing in nonprofit management from the University of Baltimore. I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for about 18 + years and have experience in fundraising/revenue development, strategic planning, training/development, budget administration and marketing and relationship management.
- What are some of the things you’re responsible for as Assistant Development Director?
My role was a newly created position to provide support to the Director of Development as she is out in the field raising funds. I’m responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Development department. We have a team of seven people, and I’m responsible for making sure the team strategizes in regards to raising funds through foundation, government, and city partners, corporate sponsors and individual donors. In addition, my role requires me to work closely with our finance department to reconcile cash receipts, pledges and provide accurate reports to close out the month.
- Where were you before BOPA?
Before BOPA I served as the Associate Director of Development at House of Ruth Maryland for about two years. Prior to the House of Ruth Maryland, I worked for the United Way of Central Maryland. Throughout my nonprofit experience I fundraised for human services, but now I’m fundraising for the arts, which is so much more relaxing and fun!
- How is that different?
Human services can focus on prevention as well as remediation of problems or specific needs. During my time at the House of Ruth Maryland I fundraised for women and children who were involved in intimate partner violence. As a survivor I wanted to work closely with an organization that I am very passionate about which allowed me to educate individuals on domestic violence. Prior to that I worked for United Way of Central Maryland and our goal was to fight poverty in central Maryland with programs encouraging self-sufficiency. I guided various state and city agencies in their fundraising efforts for the workplace giving campaigns. We were really trying to engage individuals to give back to the community. That was a good and challenging experience for me because it is hard to get people to give through back especially if they felt underpaid. Employees had specific nonprofit organizations that they supported, but the good thing about the United Way campaign it allowed an individual to pick up to five charities to give to at the end of the year and have it deducted from their paycheck. Coming to BOPA, because I’m a Baltimore City resident, I really wanted to help beautify the city, through the murals, the art and the cultural programs that we have in the city. I’ve always been a very strong advocate and participant in all of the festivals and events, but I didn’t have a clue as to what took place behind the scenes here at BOPA. Now I have such huge respect and admiration because I didn’t realize all the small, intricate details that took place.
- Is this the career path you pictured for yourself?
No, I actually studied interior decorating, but when I transferred back I had to find a job to put me through school so I started working in the undergraduate admissions department at Johns Hopkins University. I worked there for a total of 8 years at Hopkins, which in my last 4 years I worked in the graduate admissions department enrolling students. During my time on the campus I decided to help the Black Student Union with one of their events. They needed someone to help them raise money and I found my niche in fundraising. I had the relationships with local businesses and I knew wealthy individuals. Eventually I just stepped out on faith and left Johns Hopkins University. I found a job at the American Red Cross fundraising for Anne Arundel County. I traveled around the United States for national disasters and on occasions I was gone for a month on more depending on the disaster. I actually left the organization right before Katrina, but I was working for the American Red Cross when 9/11 hit. It was really easy to fundraise for the American Red Cross because whenever you have a natural disaster like that, everyone is opening up their wallets.
- What are some of the most challenging parts of raising money for BOPA’s programs? What goals does BOPA have for fundraising annually?
The challenging part is trying to get donors and sponsors to understand our mission and our goal in raising funds, simply because people think of us as a city agency when we are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. We are currently fundraising a little differently now that we have a new team. We are packaging BOPA as a whole and sharing with our partners everything that we do in regards to events, festivals and cultural programs. We want to make sure each partner understands our need and they are matched up with proper events and programs that aligned with their mission. The development department is responsible for raising 10 million dollars annually.
- What are some of your favorite parts of your job?
I just love the BOPA team. We are very family oriented and very close knit. I love the fact that everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets the work done; we are all hands on deck. You don’t find that in too many organizations. Also, fundraising for BOPA has been so rewarding because I’m actually going out and telling sponsors and donors what it is that BOPA does as a whole because people really don’t have a clue. They think of us as a city agency and we’re trying to change that mentality.
- What do you hope to see BOPA accomplish in the next 5 years?
Creating a strategic plan for our department, because when I came on board the development department did not have a strategic plan. So my goal ultimately is within the next 3 years to have a strategic plan for development department.
- Do you think BOPA will continue to grow?
Oh yeah, definitely. We really have set the bar with Light City Baltimore. Light City showed Baltimore City and BOPA’s potential to generate revenue and increase partnerships nationally and internationally. I think with the new administration under Mayor Catherine Pugh’s leadership she will keep BOPA in the forefront since she is such a strong advocate for the arts and culture.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) are proud to announce that Cindy Cheng is the winner of the 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at an award ceremony at the Walters Art Museum on July 15, 2017. The six remaining finalists—Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata, and Amy Yee—each received a $2,500 honorarium provided by M&T Bank Charitable Foundation for a total donation of $15,000. Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the Walters through Sunday, August 13, 2017.
Cindy Cheng (Baltimore, MD) creates complex constructions and installations that investigate the relationship between drawings and objects and are incubators for history, memory and reflections on the physical and abstract self. Her work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions at St. Charles Projects (Baltimore, MD, 2016), ‘sindikit (in collaboration with Cheeny Celebrado-Royer) (Baltimore, MD, 2016), Present Junction (Toronto, Canada, 2015), Thomas H. and Mary K. Williams Gallery at Mount Saint Mary’s University (Emmitsburg, MD, 2016), Flashpoint (Washington, DC, 2014), E-merge Art Fair (Washington, DC, 2013) and has an upcoming solo show at Ditch Projects (Portland, OR, 2017). Cheng received her BA from Mount Holyoke College. Cheng received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2008 and then earned her Masters of Fine Art from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2011. She is currently teaching at MICA in the Drawing Department, and has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and at the Anderson Ranch Artist Residency (Snowmass Village, CO). In 2016, Cheng and was a finalist for the Trawick Prize and in 2013 a semifinalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.
The Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2017 Finalists exhibition is held in conjunction with Artscape and is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. The $25,000 fellowship is awarded each year to an artist working in the Greater Baltimore region, and is designed to support the artist in the development of new work. The winner is selected by an independent panel of jurors, who review the exhibition and interview each artist. This year’s jurors are: Ruba Katrib, curator at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York, where she organizes exhibitions, educational and public programs, publications, and coordinates program presentation; Clifford Owens, a New York-based contemporary artist who works in performance, photography, text, and video; and Nat Trotman, associate curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Additionally, an exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Friday, July 21, through Sunday, August 6.
America’s largest free arts festival, attracting more than 350,000 attendees, offers concerts on multiple outdoor stages, art exhibitions, an artists’ market, a full schedule of dance, theater and opera, jazz, classical, folk and experimental music, children’s activities, exhibitors, and an extensive variety of local food and beverage vendors on Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street. Artscape runs from July 21 through July 23. The festival’s total economic impact on Baltimore City is $25.97 million, according to a 2012 study by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.
The 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the Abell Foundation, Alex Brown & Sons Charitable Foundation, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Sondheim Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Hecht-Levi Foundation, Legg Mason, M&T Charitable Foundation, Amy & Chuck Newhall, Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, M. Sigmund & Barbara Shapiro Philanthropic Fund, John Sondheim and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.
Janet & Walter Sondheim
The Artscape prize is named in honor of Janet and Walter Sondheim, who were instrumental in creating the Baltimore City that exists today. Walter Sondheim, Jr. was one of Baltimore’s most important civic leaders for over 50 years. His accomplishments included oversight of the desegregation of the Baltimore City Public Schools in 1954, and championing the development of Charles Center and the Inner Harbor. He was active in civic and educational activities in the city and state, and served as senior advisor to the Greater Baltimore Committee until his death in February 2007. Janet Sondheim danced with the pioneering Denishawn Dancers, a legendary dance troupe founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Later, she turned to teaching and she spent 15 years at the Children’s Guild. After retirement, she was a volunteer tutor at Highlandtown Elementary School. She married Walter in 1934, and they were together until her death in 1992.
THE WALTERS ART MUSEUM
The Walters Art Museum, located in downtown Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre Streets, is free and open to the public. At the time of his death in 1931, museum founder Henry Walters left his entire collection of art to the city of Baltimore. The collections include ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art, and Old Master and 19th-century paintings. The Museum Store offers distinctive gifts, jewelry and books based on the museum’s collections.
Free admission to the Walters Art Museum is made possible by the combined generosity of individual members, friends and benefactors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, and Howard County Government and Howard County Arts Council.
DEADLINE – July 21, 2017: Application
Final Webinar – Saturday, July 8
The deadline for Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) 2018 Individual Artist Award (IAA) applications is fast approaching!
These highly competitive awards recognize outstanding artistic achievement, honor the unique contributions of Maryland artists to the state’s creative economy, and include grants of $1,000-$6,000 to support artists as they advance their craft.
MSAC is accepting 2018 IAA applications in the following categories:
- Non-Classical Music: Composition
- Non-Classical Music: Solo Performance
- Visual Arts: Crafts
- Visual Arts: Photography
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) administers MSAC’s IAA program. Applicants can access IAA guidelines, application, and application assistance resources by clicking the “Maryland” tab here on MAAF’s website.
The deadline for 2018 applications is Friday, July 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm EST.
All applications must be submitted online.
MSAC and MAAF will offer one additional webinar before the deadline to guide IAA applicants through the application process. Advance registration is required.
Saturday, July 8, 2017, 10:00-11:30 AM – Register here.
Questions about applying? Contact Kimberly Steinle-Super at email@example.com.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announce the recipients of the Creative Baltimore Fund. More than 40 established organizations and individual artists will receive grants from $225,000 available in funding. The Creative Baltimore Fund is administered by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.
The Creative Baltimore Fund provides support to artists and organizations through two grants. The Mayor’s Individual Artist Award provides project support of $5,000 for programs that promote public access and encourage the breadth of arts and/or cultural programming in the community. Recipients of this year’s award are Bruce McKaig, Lola Pierson, Caitlin Carbone and Josh Thomas, James Carter and Julie Lin. Descriptions of their proposed projects are listed below.
360 XOCHI QUETZAL is an artist and writer’s residency located on enchanting Lake Chapala, Mexico. International writers, playwrights, visual artists, fiber artists, filmmakers, photographers, new media artists, dancers and musicians are all welcome to apply for a FREE 1-MONTH RESIDENCY from Dec 14, 2017 – Jan 13, 2018.
Imagine spending the winter working on your art to your heart’s content in sunny Mexico. We have fabulous live/work spaces for you. Apply today for 360 Xochi Quetzal Free Residency in Mexico. Applications are due July 30, 2017 thru CAFÉ www.callforentry.org.
We also have a personal residency program for artists and writers who need longer periods of creative time (1 – 6 months) throughout the year. For more details visit: www.360xochiquetzal.com/personal-residency-overview/.
This free webinar should be of interest to folks running arts venues. It’s a good introduction to the basics of fire & life safety.
Fire and Life Safety | Protecting Your Building and People from the Unthinkable
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 | 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT
Fire and life safety is a primary concern across all industries and an important component of an organizational safety program. Necessary precautions must be taken to prevent and appropriately respond to an emergency at every level of the organization. In this risk management webinar, you will learn about the essential components of an emergency action and fire prevention plan as well as how to ensure your workplace is prepared to respond to such an emergency.
This webinar will review:
- Fuel Classifications
- Fire Extinguishers
- Flammable Liquids
- Emergency Exits
- Emergency Action Plan
Fire Prevention Plan
The webinar will be presented by RCM&D Risk Management Consultants Andrew Cranney and Greg Hart.