Cited in the Council’s Imagine Mary-
land: A Renewed Strategic Plan for the
Arts 2014-2019, “six in ten Marylanders
feel the arts touch their lives,” while
“Nine in ten…agree that the State of
Maryland and local communities should
encourage art and creativity and should
encourage our children to imagine and
In a state that embraces folk culture, or
folklife, that sentiment is on trend with
today’s experience-driven group market.
Managed by the Council, Maryland has
25 designated Arts & Entertainment
(A & E) Districts in some 15 counties.
Supporting $856 million in state GDP in
fiscal 2016, three of these “Structures for
Creative Placemaking” are found in Baltimore and one in Annapolis. Along with
the Eastern Shore, this keen focus on art
creates a world of imaginative possibilities for Maryland groups.
To call Baltimore quirky is an understatement. Just ask native son John Waters,
who directed his “Dreamlanders” actors
in transgressive classics such as Pink Flamingos and the mainstream Hairspray.
“You can look far and wide, but you’ll
never discover a stranger city with such
extreme style,” wrote Waters in his 1981
book Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About
Bad Taste. “It’s as if every eccentric in the
South decided to move north, ran out of
gas in Baltimore, and decided to stay.”
The American Visionary Art Museum
(AVAM) is my favorite for exemplify-
ing Baltimore’s creative spirit. Clad in
shimmering mosaic walls, AVAM wows
with wildly imaginative works from
self-taught artists. Highlights include the
outdoor Giant Whirligig, and Fifi (a giant
pink poodle) and friends from AVAM’s
annual Kinetic Sculpture Race—a 14-
mile chase of human-powered amphibi-
ous artworks around Baltimore Harbor.
The event spaces dazzle, too, including the 250-capacity Sculpture Barn &
Garden and 400-capacity Jim Rouse
Visionary Center banquet room. Located
by historic Federal Hill, AVAM’s free
summertime “Flicks from the Hill” series
features films projected on a 30-foot-
wide screen held from above by the
Giant Golden Hand.
With other distinctive event-capable
venues such as the National Museum of
Dentistry and spectacular George Peabody Library, “Charm City” has creative
character all its own.
“Groups seeking arts, culture and
Founded in 1967, the Maryland State Arts Council supports creative talent and promotes awareness of and accessibility to the arts tatewide. The citizens have listened.
PLEIN AIR PAINTING,
reigns in the
HIPPODROME THEATRE, BALTIMORE
NUTCRACKER, BALLET THEATRE OF
BY JEFF HEILMAN
BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART