As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the arts (and music in particular) are very important to us. Both J and I were raised in homes that placed high value on artistic endeavors. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that both J and his older brother have careers in music, his older sister is a painter, and I spend most of my free time making or listening to music. So supporting the arts with our time and as much as we can financially is something that is rarely a question for us.
However, in talking with arts administrators, fundraisers, and marketers, I’m learning that fewer and fewer people place a high enough value on the arts. At least, not high enough to donate time or money (let’s be honest…mostly money). In Baltimore, there are a few stalwart benefactors that are aligned with particular organizations, but not enough of the people with money are willing to part with it to support the arts community. That is really distressing for me. Especially considering the amount of money spent on sports teams and events in our city.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love me some baseball and football. Seriously. And I love the congenial community atmosphere that I’ve noticed in Baltimore in the past year while our sports teams have been doing well. When I attended a Ravens game last year, I really loved the “We’re all in this together” feeling that I shared with other fans on the Light Rail to the game and around the stadium beforehand.
But in my opinion, dear readers, in terms of community-building and maintaining, the arts are infinitely more valuable than sports. In general, it seems to me that the concept of noblesse oblige is practically dead in our society. Those who have a lot of money are less and less willing to part with it. Many folks in Baltimore seem more likely to pay big money for an exclusive skybox at Camden Yards that they can enjoy with a few friends, than give money to an opera or the symphony which can be shared by the whole city. And while my passions lie more in the musical realm, Baltimore has a wealth of opportunities to experience the visual arts, as well. So, instead of continuing to rant about how no one supports the arts anymore, I’m going to list some of the arts organizations that we love in Baltimore, and encourage you to visit/see/hear…or even donate to them!
Baltimore Concert Opera – (In the interest of full disclosure, J is on the BCO board). The BCO presents high quality opera in a great setting…the ballroom of the Engineers Club! (FYI- we’re kinda partial to the space since it is where we had our wedding reception. :)) Their next performance, Carmen, is this weekend and completely sold out, but look for an announcement of next season coming soon. Buy your tickets early…Carmen sold out a few weeks ago! My favorite part is that you can take your drink into the performance with you! They are in the final days of their 25.4.5 campaign to raise funds for their fifth season.
Lyric Opera Baltimore– This company started a few years ago after the collapse of the former Baltimore Opera Company. I have attended a few of their performances, and was impressed with what I heard. They have a performance coming up in a few weeks, Rigoletto, with Bryan Hymel who is a rapidly up and coming tenor on the world stage. (In the interest of full disclosure again…J is performing in the chorus for this production).
Baltimore Rock Opera Society– this company, affectionately nicknamed BROS, presents an edgy, fun…well….rock opera. J attended their production of “Valhella” last year, and had a great time. We’re hoping to get to their production this month, “Murdercastle”. Another bonus…their performances are BYOB. 🙂
The Figaro Project– This is a small company that typically puts on what I would call “new opera”. Or, at least, a new take on “traditional” opera. I am heartbroken that I won’t be able to attend their upcoming performance of Camelot Requiem. I saw the composer’s work, Strong Like Bull, a few years ago and loved it. Since I can’t make it, you should try to!
Concert Artists of Baltimore – This group is made up of a professional orchestra and chorus. We attended one of their concerts at the Gordon Center in Owings Mills this past Saturday night. I really enjoyed the performance. The chorus had a really nice blend, and the orchestra sounded great. A highlight was the X Concerto for Clarinet, a modern piece composed to echo the sounds of Gen X. It was played masterfully by a member of the CAB orchestra!
Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) – The BMA is known for its extensive collection of 19th century, modern, and contemporary art. A large chunk of their most famous collection was donated by the Cone sisters who were socialites and friends with the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Alice Toklas. Try to visit near lunch or dinner…the restaurant at the BMA, Gertrude’s, is tasty and unique.
The Walters – I am sad to say that I have only been to the Walters once…for about an hour. Considering it is on the same block as the Engineers Club, I think I should really aim to change that. Soon. The Walters has a wide variety of works in its primary collection, and they seem to have a number of great traveling exhibits come through, too.
The Charles Theater – During our Oscar movie cramming in January/February, J and I often end up catching a film or two at the Charles. The great thing about this movie theater is that it is a restored theater, and it shows a lot of off-the-beaten path “artsy” films that don’t come to the regular theaters.
Centerstage – Centerstage is probably the best known theater in Baltimore. I’ve been to one production there and really enjoyed it.
Single Carrot Theatre – Single Carrot is a small, innovative theater in Baltimore’s up and coming Station North Arts District. I have desperately wanted to get to one of their productions since Station North borders our neighborhood, but every time I try to go, it’s in the midst of a busy time for the Spy House. We’re hoping to get to a performance sometime soon.
So, there you have it. Some great organizations to see/hear and support.