I used to believe, having a degree in the arts and living in Baltimore, that I was truly immersed in the arts. However, it wasn’t until I joined the Urban Arts Leadership Program that I realized I was only experiencing the tip of the iceberg. My name is Miriah Garnett and I am an Urban Arts Leadership fellow who also works as a graphic designer at T. Rowe Price. I joined this program with the intention of gaining more insight into what the world of arts management encompasses. However, working at my host organization, the Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation (BARCO), I have gained skills not only about arts management, but also about arts marketing, arts real estate, serving the needs of the community, and so much more.
My host site, BARCO, is a real estate corporation that focuses on providing affordable spaces that support artists, performers, innovators, etc. Currently they have two primary locations in Baltimore; The Motor House in Station North and Open Works in Greenmount West. Over the duration of my fellowship I have been able to work in both sites doing a variety things such as meeting the patrons and staff, attending staff meetings, and helping with marketing.
I have learned that one of the most important aspects of working with a non-profit organization is understanding the needs of the community you serve and how to address those needs. The main focus of my fellowship has been developing a community engagement plan for the Motor House. While I originally had no idea how to take on such a daunting task, I have had the honor of working with my mentor, Theo George. Together we conducted environmental analysis (understanding the geographic and demographic representation in the community), market research and interviews (getting direct feedback from community members), analyzed our findings, and developed our 90-day plan. The interview portion of this project has been my favorite so far, it has given me direct insight into the lives of the artist and community members around Baltimore. Some organizations we have interviewed are Jazzy Studio Productions (Motor House artists), the Walters Art Museum, FORCE – Upsetting Rape Culture (Motor House artists), and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This project has given me an immense amount of knowledge about Baltimore’s community, artists, and the world of arts management.
In addition to my project, I have also been able to use my passion for graphic design to assist the Two Moon Food Group. This organization is collaborating with Open Works to host an ongoing farmer’s market kicking-off this summer. My role in this project has been to help them develop their branding/marketing. I have been able to develop everything from their logos to an 8-foot banner. This has been a really interesting project because, similar to our own engagement plan project at the Motor House, I have watched their vision become a large-scale event. More importantly, however, this partnership has exemplified how integral BARCO is in assisting organizations.
Overall, working with BARCO has given me a great deal of insight into the world of non-profit arts management. I’ve been able to see how my own skills fit into this career, how to carry out a community engagement plan, and how to help serve the community and its residents. While it has been challenging balancing a full-time job and a fellowship, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Miriah M. Garnett
UMBC, BA in Visual Arts, Graphic Design
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