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Executive Director Newsletter 12/15

In March, the 2020 cohort of Urban Arts Leadership was in the thick of things. Combined with their Fellowship placements (typically 20 hours per week) they were part of the very first class to expand the UAL’s community engagement efforts through the establishment of a Field School.

With GBCA’s grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (another first-ever), Equity and Inclusion Director, Kibibi Ajanku developed partnerships with The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute Folklife Center. The aim? To develop a groundbreaking Field School working with folklorists to replicate ethical practices for community engagement.

On March 13 when the pandemic was declared, UAL immediately adapted to accommodate the curriculum and project. All in-person programming, including the planned exhibition, had to be transformed to take place online. These creative moves ensured that UAL was able to meet all of its objectives. Fortunately, the in-person interviews were complete, but the Fellows had to rise above many challenges to make it all happen.

The first phase of this project, Beauty Beneath the Blight, focused on the stories of Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore City. Skills developed by Fellows throughout the Field School are replicable and have been carried with each into their respective placements and careers.

You can check out the fruit of the UAL’s labor and the amazing stories of Pennsylvania Avenue on the GBCA website at 

All my best,


P.S. A key component of the exhibition is the children’s story Billie Back in Baltimore. Be sure to take a look.

Additionally, Visit to learn more about how you can support the important programs of GBCA.

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