Community Foundation, meet 'Art in Progress'As the...

the Forum

December 09, 1992

Community Foundation, meet 'Art in Progress'

As the publisher of Art in Progress, the Baltimore/Washington regional arts monthly newspaper, I was very impressed with the report "Building Community," recently released by the Baltimore Community Foundation. The philosophy expressed by Dr. Ernest Boyer in his presentation speech and the observations and recommendations within the report itself were completely in accord with my own.

Art in Progress was initiated one year ago with three clearly stated goals: to provide education and outreach that would expand the perimeters of the arts community, to give desperately needed media coverage and recognition to the small and mid-sized cultural endeavors that are woefully overlooked by the mainstream press, and to strive to dispel the myth that art is merely a luxury for the wealthy, an expensive commodity in an elite marketplace.

In the past year, thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of an all-volunteer staff, Art in Progress, a free publication that is supported entirely by its advertising revenues, has not only survived in a tight economy, but grown (to a print run of 16,000 issues each month), expanding its coverage and distribution to include both the major cities of Washington and Baltimore and their surrounding communities.

It is regrettable that the Baltimore Community Foundation appears to have a blind spot where the accomplishments of Arts in Progress are concerned. For instance, I was startled to see it recommended within the report "that a regional arts calendar be created and distributed widely." Art in Progress has published and distributed, free, a comprehensive monthly regional arts calendar for the past year.

Although I strongly agree with all the recommendations outlined in "Building Community," I would like to point out that this effort is itself somewhat flawed by its lack of awareness of what is already actually occurring within the arts community of Baltimore.

One cannot help but ask why. I would suggest that it may be because Art in Progress is a true grass roots endeavor that has no prior connections to those long established centers of influence and power that currently define themselves as "the cultural community of Baltimore."

We are, by choice and design, not a non-profit entity and we do not seek out major donations from trust funds, corporations and government bureaucracies. Hence it seems as if we do not exist to those who operate within those circles.

It is stated within the report itself: "We found a deep feeling among the city's diverse ethnic and racial constituencies that the region's art and cultural institutions exist primarily for the privileged." If disposing of this "perception of elitism" is one of the priorities of the $1 million art and cultural initiative announced by Dr. Boyer, I would add to Dr. Boyer's recommendations that the civic and private leaders of Baltimore also look beyond their usual spheres of activity and take note of the efforts being made and the accomplishments achieved by elements of the community that may operate independently from their immediate influence.

If a truly candid dialogue is to ensue between those who are committed to "stimulate efforts to broaden and strengthen the region's cultural organizations" and the community this effort is designed to serve, a regrettable lack of awareness of what is actually taking place within that very community needs to be recognized, addressed and overcome.

Dr. Boyer's observations were timely and astute. The indisputably good intentions of the Baltimore Community Foundation are to be appreciated and praised.

At Art in Progress we hope to see all the recommendations stressed in "Building Community" carried out in a spirit of true cooperation to the benefit of all segments of the vital community that is our city of Baltimore.

Bonnie North


The writer is publisher and editor of Art in Progress.

How could U.S. fail to help Somalia?

The government finally is doing something about the destitution in Somalia. Even if chances of restoring a stable government in Somalia are bleak, America has always prided herself on being the Good Samaritan.

It seems there is a hypocrisy in deciding when to help a country in need.

We deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega because he wouldn't cooperate with our government. We helped Kuwait because oil was involved.

However, our country has no vested interest in a small Third World country like Somalia.

While anarchy rules in Somalia, many people are starving. It's about time that the United States provided relief.

The government was quick to step in to give the Kurds military and food relief. How can we stand by and look impassively at pictures of people who are skeletons with skins?

Even a little help is better than no help at all. Our government must do all it can to help Somalia.

Jennifer Lee

Ellicott City

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