State of the Arts

City Paper

This year, we’ve decided to mix up the standard “Fall Arts Guide” formula. For one thing, the city’s art scene doesn’t often work in such a way as to make long-term previews useful. When we posted our Sizzlin’ Summer calendar, for instance, we had no idea that Fields Fest, one of the best events of the summer, was even happening. So much of what makes the scene great is off the cuff, improvised, and ad hoc. 

This is what makes the scene “vibrant”—to use the favorite words of developers and urban planners. But it can also make it insular. So, we wanted to take this chance to address some of the ways in which the art scenes—because there is not just one scene—can be closed off  or even segregated. We commissioned a piece from Kalima Young, who runs the organization Arts + Justice, which has surveyed over 200 people in Baltimore’s arts community in order to document the ways that we silo ourselves off from each other. 

We, at City Paper, are, unintentionally, part of this siloing. Our entire editorial staff is white. We work with black freelancers, but not enough of them and not often enough. We try to get outside of our comfort zones, but the fact is, our arts coverage often remains in what is called the White L of Baltimore. We believe that part of the paper’s value comes from the fact that we can speak to the people who don’t have regular internet access, a group which, according to the Mayor, could be as high as 20-40 percent of the population. But we need to do better to reach all of  these people and speak to their concerns. We want the paper to be essential reading for everyone in the city. And we’re asking you, our readers, to hold us to this. And to help us—if you are doing something, let us know. Send us tips. Write for us. 

In this issue, we’ve made an effort to blow up the silos—or at least connect them, bringing together the kinds of stories in our pages that may not otherwise be connected. In addition to Young’s powerful essay, we discover a new gallery that has brought the work of over a dozen Middle Eastern artists to Baltimore for its show “ISIS,” which was mounted in protest of the Islamic State. The artists in the show could be arrested, or killed, in their home countries for the sake of their art. But, as we see in our stories on the complicated case of East Baltimore rapper Young Moose, who is in jail partially on the basis of one of his videos, this isn’t only a distant phenomenon. Much of this issue asks, where does art end and politics begin? 

And, we’re excited to bring you listings for more than 140 events still to come this fall, with dozens of critics’ picks, where we bring our expertise, passion, and understanding to everything going on and help you best use the time you have to consume culture.  


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