Baltimore has always been a segregated city. From neighborhoods and activities to schools and local government, the city has always had very clear racial and socio-economic boundaries around its institutions, whether openly acknowledged or not. As as Baltimore tries to bolster its shrinking population, in recent years it has begun to connect the arts and culture community to gentrification efforts — trying to draw new residents into the city as creators of, or participants in a growing arts/culture scene that is increasing in visibility and funding. But as this takes place, people are beginning to look more closely at what that support looks like — where it goes and to whom it goes. As certain areas of the city find new life culturally, as various creative collectives find themselves able to secure space for their artistic endeavors, other entities and individuals with long histories working in the Baltimore arts community in the city find themselves out in the cold — literally and financially. For example, when North Avenue, considered a rather dangerous part of the city for years becomes Station North, a hotbed of all kinds of entertainment and culture with everything from restaurants and bars to bookstores and coffee shops and a chunk of the MICA campus snuggling up right next to it, clearly something has changed. That kind of sweeping change though, has not equally impacted all of Baltimore.
This was discussed on this past Thursday’s edition of The Marc Steiner Show — a continuation of a conversation sparked from a previous show discussing similar issues and a poem that area actress Shelia Gaskins wrote and read on-air during the previous show to describe the disparities in the artistic communities.. She also coined the term “Art’partheid” to describe the way arts communities in the city continue to be distant in spite of their close proximity. The guests on the show were Mia Loving, Curator and Founder of Invisible Majority, a creative community incubator; Michelle Gomez, independent curator who works collaboratively with under-represented audiences on community-focused exhibitions in Baltimore; Sophia Mak, artist, dancer, performer, educator, activist, and Program Manager at 901 Arts, a youth community arts organization; and Abdu Ali, musician, producer, deejay and writer. The discussion touched on everything from race and white supremacy to privilege, power, and access to resources of all kinds. It was a very-much needed conversation that will be continued on Sunday, February 1st at a community discussion event called “Art’partheid: Bridging The Gap of Disparities in the Baltimore Art Scene” taking place at the St. John’s Church located at 2640 St.Paul Street. Details about that event are here and on the flyer,
and you can listen to the conversation from Marc Steiner’s show below: