December 03, 2008

In tough times, arts need support

The arts community and the audiences we serve are grateful to The Baltimore Sun for Tim Smith's thoughtful analysis of the financial challenges we face ("Hard times for the arts," Nov. 23) and for the subsequent editorial "A gift of art" (Nov. 26), which noted, "In tough times, music, theater, dance and the visual arts offer a boost - and their patrons and supporters can come from all walks of life."

Truer words were never spoken.

Last year, 14 million people attended arts events in Maryland, many of them in Baltimore, the art epicenter of the state.

Thanks to generous funding from the Maryland State Arts Council and Baltimore's Office of Promotion and the Arts, arts experiences in Baltimore are not only excellent but also financially accessible - and sometimes free.

This critical public support provides the foundation for all we do, and has helped the arts attract a broad and diverse audience. For example, in 2006, the city, Baltimore County and private donors increased their support for the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum so these museums could offer free general admission to everyone, every day.

Such programs enable us all to take advantage of arts opportunities for a price within reach. But what we pay does not by any means cover the cost of these great art experiences.

Arts organizations are always lean, and in the current economic downturn, we will struggle mightily to keep our work affordable by working even harder and smarter.

In these hard times, every ticket purchase, every gift, whatever its size, is deeply appreciated and helps ensure that the arts remain a vital part of our community - for all citizens.

Nancy Haragan Doreen Bolger, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the executive director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and the director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The wrong location for convenience store

I am shocked and appalled that a 7-Eleven store could be located across the street from a residence for seniors on one of the city's most picturesque corners ("Bid to block 7-Eleven in Mount Vernon falls short," Nov. 25).

There are many other places this store could go. But the company has picked the wrong place, and I join most of my community in opposing this store.

Tricia Francis, Baltimore

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