Mayor Pugh's Statement on Creating Safe Spaces for Artists in Baltimore

Just days before the start of my administration, artists who worked and lived in the Bell Foundry were displaced as a result of housing and code violations. This disproportionately impacted artists of color and members of the LGBTQ community, who rely on spaces like the Bell Foundry for practical and cultural value. While public safety is a non-negotiable imperative, I also recognize the intrinsic value of DIY-spaces – which offer resources that artists, especially emerging artists, need.

Collaboration is the key to creating a citywide network of safe, cost-effective, studio, performance spaces, and housing for emerging artists. Forming this taskforce is the first step in what I believe is the right direction – creating a formal process and plan IN PARTNERSHIP with artists. This taskforce brings together artists, arts organizations, legal counsel, developers, and funders with one goal - mobilizing resources in ways that enrich and best meet the needs of targeted communities. The Task Force will unify these perspectives to develop strategies, identify resources, and propose a framework for building an inclusive arts community in Baltimore.

My goal is protect the safety of artists and patrons, embed Baltimore’s arts and cultural scene with a meaningful sense of diversity, and meet the logistical and technical interests of today’s performers and audiences. The first taskforce meeting planned will take place January 2017, and we intend to create a working plan within 4-5 months. We want to include and hear from diverse voices, both in creating and implementing these recommendations. If you are interested please contact my office: [email protected].

Related Stories

Investing in a Safer, Strong Baltimore: A Model for the President's Approach to Working with Cities

In the spring of 2015, the White House established a special Taskforce for Baltimore City. The Taskforce was charged with marshalling Federal funds, programs, and expertise to address some of the city’s social and economic challenges, like violent crime, high levels of unemployment and limited economic opportunity in low-income neighborhoods.