Settlement of Artscape Suit WelcomedWhen I came to...


July 17, 1993

Settlement of Artscape Suit Welcomed

When I came to Baltimore 15 years ago as president of the Maryland Institute, College of Art, one of the factors that appealed to me most about both this city and the position was the incredible amount of cooperation between the state, city and private sector -- how these groups together rebuilt the city of Baltimore and worked to create a vital arts community that serves and educates the public.

Baltimore is now known nationally as a great city for the arts. However, Baltimore's position can not continue without continued cooperation between the state, city and private sector.

Recently, the city of Baltimore went to trial to regain funds from the Baltimore Arts Festival, a corporation created to initiate and administer the activities of Artscape.

The trial represented a potentially devastating end to the era marked by cooperation that allowed the arts to thrive. It also represented the ego and will of a few individuals being placed against the greater good of the community and the arts, of which the community is so rightfully proud.

A settlement in the case has now been negotiated, and some of the funds in Baltimore Arts Festival are being turned over to the city. The balance of the funds will be used to support future Artscapes.

Even though the money has been divided among a few parties and there may be some debate over who won, in this case, everyone involved is a loser.

The non-profit institutions in the city, and especially those of us in the arts, depend on the city, state and private sector to back our activities. We are supported because people recognize that we provide a valuable service to the community.

The donors, whom we rely on, trust us to do our job and have confidence that we will use the funds in the manner in which we have said we would use them.

The donors who testified at this trial all believed the money they gave was intended for an arts festival to be given in a particular year. They were not told that any of the funds would be carried over or accumulated to be used by a board at some future date for some unspecified purpose.

We can only hope that the donors' experience in being dragged through this controversy does not discourage their philanthropic activity in the future, their commitment to the arts, their commitment to working with the city and their faith in all of us who are running the arts institutions.

The trial has also created a new friction between the governor's office and the city and the mayor. Although we are all aware that the governor and the mayor have not always cooperated, one area where there has always been consensus in the past is in the arts between these two leaders.

However, because Jody Albright, who is a member of the governor's staff and has provided leadership for the Baltimore Arts Festival, is on one side of the suit and the mayor and his administration on the other side, for the first time the city and state are pitted against each other in an arts-related effort.

We all hope that this suit does not permanently scar the long tradition of cooperation that has been so vital to the development of the arts and arts institutions in Maryland and, particularly, in Baltimore City.

Next weekend, there will again be an Artscape festival in the Mount Royal Center. Since much of Artscape takes place in our buildings and on our property, the Maryland Institute will again be the primary host for the event. We will cooperate with the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture and the new non-profit organization it has created to carry out Artscape.

We hope that the private philanthropic community will not give up its support of Artscape or other initiatives in the city as a result of this suit. Baltimore needs Artscape and it needs the arts.

One of the real and unique strengths of Artscape is that it brings together a wonderful, broad spectrum of the community in the celebration of the arts.

It provides small arts organizations with a forum to present their work to a large and diverse audience. It also provides visual artists an opportunity to have their work seen by people who otherwise would never see it.

More importantly, perhaps, it provides the community the opportunity to learn more about the arts and the arts organizations and artists in Baltimore.

All of these are important objectives and factors which make Baltimore such a wonderful and supportive city for the arts, and we all hope that this controversy does not interfere with the objectives being met in the years to come.

Fred Lazarus IV


Alien Status

I am aghast at the recent decision of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to grant permanent residency to Chinese nationals who have been in the United States from June 5, 1989 to April 11, 1990.

From the press release of Attorney General Janet Reno, she vowed that she would intensify stringent rules in our current immigration laws. This is a fallacy in the current administration's goals.

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