Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review, Issue #172

Summer in Baltimore means Old Bay crab feasts, refreshing snowballs, rooting for the O’s at Camden Yards, and festivals, festivals, festivals—including Artscape! This weekend’s 32nd annual Artscape, America’s largest free celebration of the visual and performing arts, is expected to (once again) attract more than 350,000 people and generate an economic impact of more than $25 million dollars for Baltimore City.

This year, Artscape celebrates the visual and performing arts with an international theme that will take you on an arts journey across the world. More than 30 countries will be represented—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The exhibition No Passport Required will present a mile-long mash-up of artists showcasing the festival’s international theme.

Artscape, also known for its exciting variety of music performances, features concerts on four outdoor stages. The biggest stage, the Wells Fargo Main Stage, welcomes exciting performers like R&B singer KEM on Friday, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the North Mississippi All Stars on Saturday, and reggae legends The Wailers on Sunday. The return of Squonk Opera’s Go Roadshow offers a musical spectacular on wheels, and Ten Thousand Brushes & The Baltimore Mural Experience allows festival-goers to participate in the creation of a pop-up mural. The Art Car Show, now celebrating its 20th year at Artscape, will form a fun “used car lot.” And Artscape After Hours will transform Charles Street into an outdoor dance club with DJs, lighting, lasers and special effects.

But Artscape can’t be limited to just this weekend, or contained within the boundaries of the festival! The M&T Bank Artscape Gallery Network, which began in June and runs through August, showcases artists at two dozen galleries throughout the metro area. And the Artscape in the Neighborhood program shines a spotlight on the many activities taking place in Bolton Hill, Mount Vernon, and the Station North Arts & Entertainment District.

Now, for the first time, a mobile Artscape app is available for Apple and Android devices. It’s a terrific new way to keep up-to-date with the festival schedule, Artists’ Market participants, food vendors, events, and more.

Artscape is a unique annual event, the likes of which you can only find in a great American city like Baltimore. It is a time to come together, to see old friends and meet new ones, to greet talented artists (and their creations), and to see the world in a whole new way. Standing among the unique clothing and jewelry, smelling the great food, and hearing the wonderful music, we have an opportunity to renew our love for Baltimore at an exciting time in our history—for the first time in decades, Baltimore is growing again!

We are reforming government, tearing down more blight than ever before, building new schools and recreation centers, and focusing on lowering crime in our communities—all while reducing property taxes for residents. We are convincing more families to stay, and attracting new families to our great neighborhoods.

Artscape is one of Baltimore’s most dynamic, exciting, and cherished annual events, and in the coming years, we look forward to introducing new families to this great Baltimore tradition. I hope to see you this weekend at Artscape!

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