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The Art of Activism: Building the Penn Avenue Black Arts District by Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle : Sept. 8th – Kick-off for Black Arts District Event

(BALTIMORE – September 1, 2018) – All are invited to a kick-off event for the Black Arts District event. The purpose of the event is to invite community residents, artists, businesses, and other organizational stakeholders to a celebration of the rich arts and culture of the area.

The event will include a number of arts focused workshops (painting, West African dance,writing, craft making), a retrospective panel discussion that reflects on the history of the area, a community listening and feedback session, live soul and hip hop performances, food vendors, merchandise vendors, a DJ and a dance floor.

This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

History and Overview

“Lady” Brion Gill served on Baltimore City Mayor Pugh’s Safe Arts Task Force 2017-2018. The Task Force was formed to identify ways to increase access to safe art spaces and activities in the Greater Baltimore area. Of the many recommendations submitted to the City of Baltimore, Lady Brion recommended that a Black Arts and Entertainment District designation be establishedalong the Pennsylvania Avenue thoroughfare. Subsequently, she held a public meeting, under the auspices of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, to gauge interest and garner community support for the effort. As a result, she connected with the Penn-North Community Benefits Committee, which sought to better the community. Select members of that group, in collaboration with many other community partners, comprise the current Advisory Committee for the proposed Arts and Entertainment district.

Lady Brion (Cultural Curator for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle), in partnership with the University of Baltimore, Fight Blight Baltimore, The Arch Social Club, Jubilee Arts, Pennsylvania Avenue Main Street, Druid Heights CDC, Upton CDC, Penn-North Neighborhood Association, Avenue Bakery/The Royal Theatre and Community Heritage Corporation, The Office of Baltimore City Councilman Leon Pinkett, and the Neighborhood Design Center are working to establish Maryland’s first Black Arts and Entertainment district, in historic West Baltimore.

The district’s footprint covers Fulton and Pennsylvania Avenue to the north, Dolphin and Pennsylvania Avenue to the south, and approximately a block east and west respectively.

Working Mission Statement

The mission of the “Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts and Entertainment District” is to promote cultural and art-focused events, encourage equitable community development, preserve historic cultural sites, and facilitate area improvements that lead to the vitality of community-based, Black-owned enterprises, and Black-led artistic/cultural endeavors.

Community Benefits from Arts and Entertainment (A&E) District

The A&E district plans to leverage the marketing and branding of the District in a way that enhances it as a vibrant Black cultural neighborhood. The vision is a community comprised of a variety of ownership and rental properties, safe and beautiful streets, and home to many cultural arts events that attract more patrons to the businesses of the community.

For artists and cultural practitioners, the district provides an opportunity to live, work, and create an economically prosperous future abundant with dynamic and participatory arts experienced and increased activities and events within an arts destination.

Additional benefits include:

  • Property tax credits for new construction or renovation of certain buildings that create live-work space for artists and space for arts and entertainment enterprises;
  • An income tax subtractionmodification for income derived from artistic work executed and sold by “qualifying residing artists” within the district; and
  • An exemption from the Admissions and Amusement tax levied by an “arts and entertainment enterprise” or “qualifying residing artist” in a district.

Anchor Institutions:

  • Arch Social Club
  • Shake and Bake
  • Jubilee Arts
  • Avenue Market
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library: Pennsylvania Avenue Branch

Other Overlapping Designations:

  • Pennsylvania Avenue Main street
  • Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail
  • Upton- Marble Hill Chap District
  • Enterprise Zone
  • Retail Incentive Zones
  • Food Retail Incentive Innovation Areas
  • Old West Baltimore National Historic District
  • Violence Reduction Zone – Mayor’s office and BCPD! Opportunity Zone- Penn North, Druid Heights, Upton

Overarching Goals for District:

  • Restore cultural landmarks and communities;
  • Preserve and reuse historical buildings;
  • Encourage Black owned business and job development;
  • Establish a tourism destination;
  • Create a culinary destination for Diasporan cuisine
  • Bring large scale festivals and events to the proposed district
  • Enhance property values
  • Tax Credits: property tax credits, income tax subtraction modification