Conflicts of Interest: Mea Culpa

City Paper

I’ve been writing a lot about Light City, the light festival slated to take place in March 2016 in the Inner Harbor, because it is an opportunity to see how a big festival comes to be—even if it sounds sickeningly bad sometimes. There is this model, where it sort of comes about by fiat—some people in power are enamored by an idea and they push it on everyone else (think Grand Prix). And then there is the model of last weekend’s Print City, which included Open Space’s Publications and Multiples Fair and the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Contemporary Print Fair. PMF grew up organically and slowly over the past several years until this year’s, which took place at the new Baltimore Design School and was a major event that also helped encourage other galleries to hold openings on the same weekend, especially in the new Bromo district. With Future Fest also happening in Station North, it felt like an art festival that actually encompassed much of the city.

It also woke me up to something. Sometimes in this job, it’s easy to get caught up investigating the negative or the suspicious, while sleeping on the positive. The Light City people are great at PR, whereas collectives such as Open Space are definitely not. But I’d rather have bad PR people put on good festivals than good PR people put on bad ones. I should have done more to support the Publications and Multiples Fair and Future Fest, while still looking into the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of future festivals. Last weekend is exactly what the city needs more of.

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