On Friday, GBCA received renewed support from the Surdna Foundation to continue Artists U/Baltimore and to help move the Urban Arts Leadership Program (UALP) into its first full year of programming. Although additional funding is still needed for these professional development programs, this $50,000 grant lays an important foundation for GBCA's work to increase the strength and sustainability of organizations and artists alike.
UALP was founded by David Mitchell in 2013 and helps create a pipeline for young leaders of color to enter arts management positions. In the current climate, pre-professionals of color, even those with college degrees, are rarely being placed in professional positions in cultural organizations large or small. The lack of diversity is not new nor is it only local, but over the course of several decades it is not a problem for which there have been any large-scale, meaningful solutions. There is an abundance of potential barriers for job candidates including a lack of professional networks or mentors already working in the field who can act as champions for their careers or help them make the kind of informal contacts that lead to employment opportunities. In addition, many recent graduates are not well prepared with the soft skills necessary to help them rise to the top in a job search and become successfully employed. In addition to training, UALP includes three-to-six month fellowships with area cultural organizations that have enthusiastically embraced this effort.
Based on his successful model in Philadelphia, Andrew Simonet created Artists U/Baltimore at GBCA in 2012. It is a program built on the principle that artists can empower each other to apply the creativity, competence, and resourcefulness of their art practice to all aspects of their careers and lives. The program aims to embed strategic planning as a lifelong process in the Baltimore arts community and to connect artists across disciplines, ages, and cultural backgrounds. In the words of Simonet, “In line with current economic and community development thinking, the key and the challenge of this work is empowerment. If artists can understand and amplify their own power and initiative, there is no limit to what can change. If things are done "for" the artist, the result is often a reinforcing helplessness and learned passivity. Artists who learn to be strong partners generate opportunities and resources within and beyond the art world.”
To learn more about, or find out how you can support these and other professional development programs, visit GBCA’s website.
All the best,
P.S. Come on over to Station North Arts and Entertainment District’s Ynot lot on Monday, August 4 from 5 to 7:00pm for our joint Happy Hour and to learn more about Open Walls. RSVP here.