In a three-tiered initiative launching in June, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will provide broad-ranging support to local artists, galleries, and communities. Through its BMA Salon and BMA Screening Room, the historic Maryland institution will give Baltimore-based arts businesses and artists access to its digital content platforms; a third program, the BMA Studio, will provide communities with art-making tools. By extending the reach of its resources, BMA hopes to ensure the city’s arts ecosystem can thrive.
For BMA Salon, the museum’s contemporary art curators will select 20 Baltimore galleries to use the digital platform traditionally reserved for its arts and social justice speaker series, The Necessity of Tomorrow(s), to mount digital exhibitions. Along with access to the site, galleries will also receive a $2,500 organizing stipend to produce the digital shows and cultivate collectors. The participants — among them galleries committed to showing emerging and experimental artists, such as Resort and ‘sindikit; and multidisciplinary spaces like The Parlour — will keep 100% of the proceeds from any sales made through the platform.
A second online project, the BMA Screening Room, will host video works by up to 50 local artists, including Devin N. Morris and Nia Hampton, on a new streaming service on the museum’s website. The artists, once more selected by BMA’s contemporary team, will be paid a licensing fee ranging from $500 to $750.
Finally, as part of BMA Studio, the museum will provide at least 1,400 phyiscal art-making kits for the Greenmount West Community Center to distribute to the Maryland Food Bank, World Central Kitchen, and families in the neighborhood. The project ideas and supplies included in the kits will be inspired by activities planned for one of the museum’s online public programs, Free Family Sundays.
On March 11, at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, BMA canceled or postponed all upcoming public programs and later closed its main building and Lexington Market satellite location. As shuttered arts organizations nationwide implement staff cuts in a sinking ship-effort to make up for lost revenues, artists and art workers are facing unemployment on massive scale. (According to a spokesperson for the BMA, the museum has retained its full staff during the pandemic, with no layoffs or furloughs to date.)
The museum’s new initiative is an acknowledgment that public institutions’ roles must change in response to this new reality. Christopher Bedford, BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis director, says its three new initiatives represent a shift in BMA’s approach “from discussion and presentation to more active and directed collaboration.”
The galleries selected for BMA Salon so far include as they lay, C. Grimaldis Gallery, Catalyst Contemporary, Connect + Collect, Creative Alliance, Current Space, ICA Baltimore, Galerie Myrtis, Goya Contemporary, Resort, St. Charles Projects, ‘sindikit, Springsteen, and The Parlour.
The video artists confirmed for the launch of BMA Screening Room are Rahne Alexander, Abdu Ali and Karryl Eugene, Stephanie Barber, Mollye Bendell, Erick Antonio Benitez, Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown, Emily Eaglin, Markele Cullins, Tanya Garcia, Nia Hampton, Chung-Wei Huang, Nia June, Jaimes Mayhew, Meredith Moore, Devin N. Morris, Clifford Owens, Margaret Rorison, Jules Rosskam, Lendl Tellington, Stephanie J. Williams, Caroline Xia, and Monsieur Zohore.