Skip to main content

What Exactly is That Urban Arts Leadership?

The Urban Arts Leadership is a program of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) and was designed to increase the participation of groups that have been historically underrepresented, particularly those of color, in the management of cultural and artistic organizations. Urban Arts Leadership is a pipeline for emerging and aspiring young leaders who are college seniors or recent graduates and have a keen interest in racial equity and inclusion. Urban Arts Leadership is a Fellowship Program that offers professional development, and networking opportunities. Additionally, a core component of the fellowship is to match and embed each fellow within an arts organization, arts service organizations, or art driven business that is also committed to the concept of racial equity and inclusion.

The professional development takes place as leadership trainings that are dedicated to self-discovery, self-enhancement, and self-determination. Implied and ingrained within these ideologies is the notion of respect for culture, history, and contribution. The trainings are divided into three target areas and are planned to feature the following content:

  • Target Area #1: The Purpose
  • Racial Equity & Inclusion
  • Foundation Culture
  • Non-Profit Culture
  • Organizational Models
  • Target Area #2: The Personal Tool Box
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Strategic Planning
  • Marketing & Promotion
  • Community Engagement
  • Social Media
  • Crowd Funding
  • Grant Writing
  • Financial Literacy
  • Public Speaking
  • Target Area #3: The Powerful Productive Presence
  • Business Etiquette
  • Networking
  • Conflict Transformation
  • The Ever-Present Elephant in the Room

A great leader has great influence and power to be a change agent in a way that productively and constructively serves. The gain and the responsibility reach beyond the personal. A commitment to equity and inclusion requires more than just good intentions. It requires action, and in good balance should be viewed as opportunity that cannot be squandered. So, the program operates with an intensity and an urgency that compels full engagement from each participant. In the first month alone, the topics covered in Target Area #1 are presented publicly in the form of artfully developed and carefully timed PowerPoint presentations. Thus, the Urban Arts Leadership Program is a rigorous program, and not for the faint of heart. The obvious participants are the UALP Fellows, however, just as importantly the arts organization, arts service organizations, and art driven businesses are the host organizations where the UALP Fellows are embedded. They are participants as well, and like the Fellows, they must apply and be vetted. All who are accepted must go through racial justice training.

As its leader, I wear the Urban Arts Leadership Program as a badge of honor. I am serious about and proud of the work that I do. The need is real and is documented. Equity and inclusion are both a healthy tonic, as well as a healing balm that can and should be administered abundantly to bring much need balance and justice. The timing is perfect. The time is now.


  • Although nearly half (49 percent) the population in the Baltimore–Washington region is people of color, 22 percent of nonprofit organizations in the region have executive directors of color.
  • In both Baltimore City and the District of Columbia, nearly 70 percent of the population is people of color, compared with 30–34 percent of the nonprofit executive directors.
  • The counties surrounding Baltimore City have the smallest discrepancy between populations and executive directors of color: 31 percent of the population is people of color, while 25 percent of the nonprofit executive directors are of color.
  • The Maryland counties outside Washington, D.C., have the largest discrepancy: 63 percent of the population is people of color, compared with 22 percent of the nonprofit executive directors.
  • Northern Virginia has the smallest percentage of minorities in the region (40 percent) and the smallest percentage of nonprofit executive directors of color (5 percent).

By Kibibi Ajanku

Become a Member

As a member of GBCA, you will not only gain access to wonderful benefits, but you will also become an active participant in a broader cultural community. Your organization and employees will directly benefit from opportunities to collaborate, connect, learn, network and share with your colleagues in the cultural community. Join our growing constituency of over 300 individual artists and organizations representing the region's extraordinary range of arts, culture, history, heritage, humanities, and attractions.

Join Today