All together now, a holiday overture Gifts: Arts To Go, a cooperative boutique featuring Baltimore arts merchandise, gets the show on the road.

November 29, 1996|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

It's one of those great ideas that seems so obvious in retrospect: a boutique where shoppers can patronize five major Baltimore arts organizations while purchasing holiday presents.

Today, Arts To Go, a cooperative retail effort featuring items from the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Center Stage, Morris A. Mechanic Theatre and the Walters Art Gallery, opens at the Gallery at Harborplace.

For the first time, BSO mugs, BMA memberships and Walters nightshirts are available in the same place through Dec. 31.

The five performance and cultural arts groups "never worked together in a public way before," says Joan Davidson, group marketing manager for Baltimore area Rouse Company shopping centers.

The retail consortium is foremost a promotional effort and a community service, Davidson says. If the public is "receptive to this kind of experiment we will explore it more fully," she says.

The arts groups and Gallery staff members working with them expect to turn a small profit with Arts To Go. Without releasing specifics, Gallery representatives make it clear that the Rouse Company is subsidizing Arts To Go in the belief that its success will help everyone. "We'll all win together," Davidson says.

The Arts To Go venture evolved from efforts among the five arts groups to devise cross-marketing strategies that would spread the word about Baltimore's arts community.

Four days before its debut, Arts To Go was already brimming with holiday razzle-dazzle. Center Stage props -- chairs from "Galileo," huge, soft sculpture dolls from "Spunk" -- provide a handsome backdrop for symphonic ties, compact discs, musical instrument holiday ornaments, Matisse note cards and T-shirts emblazoned with the names of shows and cultural arts groups.

Other Arts To Go items range from a book on painter Andrew Wyeth (in recognition of the current Wyeth exhibition at the BMA) and Center Stage beer tankards to merchandise touting

"Smokey Joe's Cafe" and "The King & I," both productions coming to the Mechanic.

Clustered in appealing tableaux created by Alice Greely-Nelson, the Gallery's "visual merchandiser," the cultural goodies make a tantalizing overture to would-be customers.

Concert gift certificates as well as museum memberships may also be purchased at the shop.

Through December, musicians and actors will perform works from plays and musicals coming to Center Stage and the Mechanic.

Arts To Go hours are 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday. More information on the store and the performances scheduled there is available by calling (410) 837-2425.

Pub Date: 11/29/96

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