Arts and social networking

December 20, 2009|By Tim Smith

While some folks were fixating on the term "socialism" during 2009, local cultural organizations were focusing on "social networking" with extra vigor.

The most impressive manifestation has been the Baker Artist Awards, created as an entirely online contest that invites area artists of any genre, from painting to poetry, to upload their work - and Web visitors from anywhere on the globe to check them out and vote for favorites. The inaugural awards were distributed in March (above, the winners); the second contest, which started in October, offers several new interactive options on the site aimed at helping artists and arts fans to network even more.

Baltimore's long-established cultural enterprises got more deeply into the social media groove. The BSO, already on Facebook and My Space, added Twitter in May, and did so with a splash: A contest for in-demand tickets to Trey Anastasio's concert with the orchestra garnered more than 900 followers within a week. And a social networking blast paid off quickly, selling 1,100 seats to a "Final Fantasy" program in the summer before the BSO placed a single old-fogey-media ad.

Center Stage also jumped into the Twittersphere this year and plans to create a presence on trendy soon. Everyman Theatre's embrace of Twitter had a twist - entrusting tweets to a cast member, so followers can gain an insider's perspective and a deeper social connection.

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