Best Continuation of Baltimore’s Failed Arts Economic Development Model: Light City Baltimore

Look, there are things we can agree upon: The inaugural Light City Baltimore festival drew more than 400,000 nighttime visitors to the Inner Harbor, which, according to an economic impact study produced by BOPA, resulted in a $33.8 million bump in the local economy. Also, and this survey result is important to note, “the majority of visitors (98.1%) felt safe visiting Light City” and “58% have a more positive outlook [about the city] after attending the festival.” That’s great news for the city’s tourism industry. What we take issue with is the nearly half-century of local business and political insistence that cultural development and economic success at the Inner Harbor trickles down into sound economic policy for the city writ large. It needs to be said: continuation of 1970s and ’80s downtown cultural development is apartheid economic policy. And no amount of neighborhood satellite site programming—Light City has eight planned for the 2017 fest—will carbon offset that. Dream better.

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