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Baltimore Museum of Art. Photo: Wikipedia.
Baltimore Museum of Art. Photo: Wikipedia.

Baltimore Museum of Art to Provide Financial Relief to Local Artists and Businesses

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is launching three new initiatives that will provide immediate relief to Baltimore’s artistic community amid the coronavirus pandemic. “As part of our mission of civic engagement, we felt it was incumbent upon us to develop new opportunities to support the cultural fabric of our community,” said director Christopher Bedford. “Our new initiatives build on ideas core to us as an institution from connecting audiences with exciting, thought-provoking works of art to championing artistic experimentation and positioning creative production as central to social change.”

The initiatives—BMA Salon, BMA Screening Room, and BMA Studio—aim to provide direct support to artists, businesses, and families across the city. For Salon, the museum will invite twenty galleries, including As They Lay, Catalyst Contemporary, ICA Baltimore, and Galerie Myrtis, to present shows on its digital platform—each participant will be given a $2,500 stipend and will be allowed to keep all proceeds from the sales. For Screening Room, fifty artists will receive a small licensing fee, ranging from $500 to $750, to display video works on the museum’s website. Among the artists chosen for the initiative are Rahne Alexander, Erick Antonio Benitez, Markele Cullins, Tanya Garcia, Nia Hampton, Chung-Wei Huang, Meredith Moore, Clifford Owens, and Lendl Tellington. For Studio, museum employees will create at least 1,400 ready-to-go artmaking kits to be distributed by the Greenmount West Community Center staff to the Maryland Food Bank, World Central Kitchen, and families in the neighborhood. Conceived as an at-home extension of the BMA’s Free Family Sundays program, the initiative intends to address disparities in digital access.

The new programs were made possible through funds from the Suzanne F. Cohen and the Cohen Opportunity Fund, which were originally earmarked for “The Necessity of Tomorrow(s),” a series of talks on social justice and art that was put on hold because of Covid-19—the series’ next event was rescheduled for October. Cohen, who passed away in 2018, was a longtime museum trustee who served as board chair from 2003 to 2006. During her four decades of involvement with the BMA, she supported dozens of exhibitions and advocated for free general admission and transportation services for Baltimore City students to visit the museum.  

“Sue’s forward-thinking approach and commitment to the arts and civic responsibility propelled the BMA’s own dedication to exploring and implementing new ways of serving our community,” said Bedford. “The expansion and evolution of ‘The Necessity of Tomorrow(s)’ in many ways continues her work in eroding the boundaries between these universes, by helping to ensure that artists have the means to play active roles in shaping our collective future.”