Reaching New Heights by S. Rasheem; Photo Credit: Asha Holmes; Art@Work, 2018; 4800 block of Pimlico Rd.

Despite all the bad news we endure during this health crisis, there is some good news. Many are discovering friends and partners have their backs. Individuals and organizations within the community are neighbors helping neighbors. Landlords and creditors are waiving rents and payments, there are food and diaper drives, Baltimore City is ensuring that children are fed and neighbors who never knew each other run errands for those who need support.

We are also joining together to celebrate our strong Baltimore spirit with the arts—vibrant chalk drawings appear on sidewalks, an impromptu choir sings from the front steps of their homes, young artists display their work in the front windows of their homes and yesterday, I even saw a teddy bear dressed to go to the opera. Visual, literary and performing artists are taking to the Internet to entertain and enlighten us. Even though we can’t gather the arts can still amaze and engage.

The arts community is also coming together to support our own. A grassroots movement sprang up to become a full-fledged coalition of arts groups to support artists from many disciplines who lost commissions, contracts, or had scheduled performances cancelled and don’t qualify under the current rules for unemployment or government support. These are the people that give Baltimore its cultural soul. They need and deserve our support for all that they give to enliven our City. The Baltimore Artist Emergency Fund launches this week and BOPA is proud to be just one of the many organizations involved.

You can read more about the fund, the amazing people who brought the fund to fruition and how you can support our community artists in this week’s newsletter or on the BOPA website. This partnership BOPA is privileged to be a part of is not just about the funding, it is about creating an environment where the arts community knows that we’ll always have their backs—not just now but always.

Donna Drew Sawyer

CEO, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts

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