Contemporary Museum was an economic catalyst for the Station North arts district

July 09, 2013

A recent Sun editorial linked the planned reopening of the Contemporary Museum with "newly designated arts districts." including the Station North Arts & Entertainment District immediately north of Penn Station ("The Contemporary returns," July 8).

In 1991, after I had leased the Charles Theatre as an "art film house" and was negotiating to lease the Everyman Theatre in the 1700 block of North Charles Street, I was contacted by Contemporary co-founder and director George Ciscle, requesting a rent-free exhibit in the former Famous Ballroom (now part of the expanded Charles Theatre).

To help generate foot traffic in that block, I said, "Sure." I believe it was the second exhibit mounted by the Contemporary, and it was visited by more than 1,000 followers of local painters and sculptors during its month-long run.

The ripple effect — on nearby art and theater venues and chic restaurants and bars that have opened in recent years — helped garner Station North's designation as an "arts district." The role of the Contemporary in this history should not be forgotten. Art not only stimulates and brings thoughtful people together, it's also darn good for business and for the city.

Alan Shecter, Baltimore

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