Elissa Blount Moorhead, the Executive Director of the Station North Arts Entertainment District (SNAED), has resigned, according to a statement sent to City Paper by SNAED via Amelia Rambissoon, Director of Development & Operations and later posted on SNAED's Facebook.
Blount Moorhead, who took the job last fall, replaced Ben Stone and was warmly welcomed by the city's arts scene due to her awareness and sensitivity to the scene's needs in a crucial moment for Baltimore and Station North, wherein concerns of gentrification and development threaten to radically change the city.
In particular, Blount Moorhead's savvy stood out amid concerns and controversies about DIY spaces in the city—as someone who understood the skepticism the arts scene has about initiatives such as the Safe Arts Space Task Force. For example, back in December when the Safe Arts Space Task Force was announced following the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland and the condemning of Baltimore arts space the Bell Foundry, Blount Moorhead mentioned "spatial justice" and the importance of "placemaking" not turning into "placetaking," acknowledging the concerns of artists skeptical and even understandably hostile to city planning.
"Since she became Executive Director last fall, it became clear that the goals and ambitions of the organization were out of alignment with the structure and resources available. Elissa offered a number of thoughtful recommendations for how SNAE might best move forward, including offering her resignation in order to reorganize operations," SNAED's statement said, in part. "The board ultimately accepted Elissa's resignation, and although we are sad to lose her leadership, we are exploring ways with Elissa to keep her connected to our staff and board in order to move her – and our – vision forward to benefit the district and its constituents. Elissa continues to thrive in the Baltimore arts community! She was recently announced as a 2017 Ruby Grantee in Media and Performing Arts and an Incubator Fellow at the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film & Media at Johns Hopkins."
In a follow-up email to City Paper, SNAED's Rambissoon informed us that Blount Moorhead "resigned at the beginning of May but has been tying up loose ends the past few weeks with funders, organization partners, etc.," hence the delayed announcement.
City Paper first heard the rumor that Blount Moorhead was out at SNAED in late April, about a week or so before Maryland Film Fest began.
Rambissoon is currently acting the Interim Executive Director and she notes that "there is no active search [for executive director] launching right now," and SNAED intends to "restructure and figure out the next steps/what makes the most sense for the organization." She added, "We also want to restructure the board/possible activate committees and have Elissa participate in that in some way since she has tons of great insight we don't want to lose."
Additionally, Rambissoon notes, "Kimi Hanauer, SNAED's former Program Director and an active artist and organizer, has also transitioned out of the organization to focus on her independent practice and publishing initiative Press Press. Kimi will serve as a Program Consultant to SNAED through this transition."