Posted April 3, 2020 by Maryland State Arts Council

In response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) has created special grant opportunities that provide emergency funding to arts organizations and artists in Maryland as they adjust to losses sustained because of programming, operations, and events that have been modified or cancelled. Full guidelines and rubrics are available here

Please note:

 Due to limited funding, grant requests will be prioritized to assist artists and organizations whose needs cannot be met through funding from other relief sources. To help with this process, applicants will be asked to upload evidence that their funding requests from the State and Federal relief sources above have been accepted, denied, or deemed ineligible. For specific questions about your artistic practice or organizations, please contact the relevant MSAC program director via our staff page

Applying for a Grant

Grant applications are available to arts organizations and independent artists through Smart Simple. Applications will be reviewed upon submission, and Emergency Grants will be awarded throughout the fiscal year until allocated funding is depleted. Note that the timeline between approval and payment may be 90-days.

The Dreamer by Latoya Peoples; Photo Credit: Sam Selby
Waverly Neighborhood, 601 Homestead Street, Baltimore, MD, 21218
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on
From Lean On Me by Bill Withers

If there was ever a time when we need to lean on each other, it is now. Though we are physically apart for safety, together we are part of a unique experience that if we go it alone will weaken us—physically, mentally and artistically.

As this pandemic divisively plays out, the BOPA team is leaning into our role as Baltimore’s Arts Council, Film Office and Events Producer. Though we can’t gather like we did at Brilliant Baltimore in November and we’re hoping to for Artscape in July, we will continue to do all we can to strengthen the arts and community in Baltimore and beyond.

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Sundance Film Festival
Photo credit: Debbie D. Dorsey

Last month, Debbie D. Dorsey, BOPA’s Director of the Baltimore Film Office, traveled to Park City, Utah to support Baltimore’s presence at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The annual film festival is highly anticipated as one of the biggest gatherings of filmmakers and audiences, with many films that launch at Sundance going on to gain critical acclaim worldwide.

This year’s festival featured screenings of narratives, documentaries, and shorts from all over the world, including Sweden, Iran, Mexico, Germany, and more. BOPA is proud to report that Baltimore was also present among this international roundup of films and storytellers.

“Baltimore was well represented at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival,” says Dorsey, fresh off of her first trip to Park City for the festival. Dorsey was able to attend screenings, meet with cast and crew, and see Baltimore talent shine at Sundance.

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1.       As the Visual Arts Specialist, what is your position within the Arts Council at BOPA?

I work as a project manager for the Sondheim Artscape Prize, the Municipal Art Society’s Artist Travel Prize and Public Art Prize, Public Art Projects, and the visual arts awards for the state’s Scholastic Art Awards.

2.       This is an exciting time of the year for you, with the launch of the 15th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize application. Can you tell us a bit about this process and what we can expect over the next few months leading up to Artscape?

Sure! The call for artists just closed, so I review all the applications to make sure they are complete before sending them along to our jurors to score. Our jurors (Gary Carrion-Murayari from the New Musuem, photographer Nona Faustine, and Diya Vij from the High Line) will score all 300 entries, and from those scores the top 25 to 30 artists will be semi-finalists, who submit additional materials which the jurors score again. This scoring is used to shape the discussion in the in-person meeting (usually in New York), where the jurors select the finalists for the prize. The in-person meeting is crucial to the process, in my experience this helps to come up with a very thought-through group of artists. These finalists are then notified and have meetings with The Walters Art Museum staff to help figure out the gallery layout, needs of each artist, etc. That show will open Thursday, May 28, 2020. Then, the jurors will travel to Baltimore to interview each artist in their exhibition on Saturday, July 11, 2020 with the announcement of the recipient of the award that evening.

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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.

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