Artists and Neighborhood Change Conference

Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. hosted a two-day conference exploring the interface of cultural vitality and socio-economic equity in low- and moderate-income communities with significant artist populations.  The Artists and Neighborhood Change Conference convened leading researchers, developers, artists, and community members to explore issues of gentrification, urban revitalization, and community development.  Situated in Baltimore’s Station North Arts & Entertainment District, which is undergoing exponential change as legacy, creative, and commuter populations continue to mix, the conference offered both a national and highly localized discussion on the impacts, positive and negative, that an influx of new residents, capital, and development can have on formerly underserved communities, as well as strategies for managing change. The Artists and Neighborhood Change Conference expanded upon Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc.’s successful National Symposium on Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Districts, held in conjunction with the National Main Streets Conference in April 2012.

Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. is grateful to the Surdna Foundation for sponsoring this important conference.

The Artists and Neighborhood Change Conference was organized as follows:

June 20th: The overarching discussion probed the pitfalls of rapid, uncontrolled development and sources of tension between longtime residents and nascent artistic communities.  In an effort to better understand the pros and cons of gentrification, speakers  discussed the positive impact that an influx of new residents, capital, and sensitive development can have on formerly underserved communities, and strategies for managing change.  Though sessions on this day provided a national perspective, Baltimore respondents in each session connected each conversation to Station North and Baltimore City.

The first session offered a historical, social, and empirical exploration of gentrification, laying a foundation for the rest of the conference.  The second session covered developmental vulnerabilities arising in artistic populations and spoke to strategies for sustaining a community’s cultural vitality.  Recognizing that artistic communities exist as a subset of larger urban ecologies, the third session considered the how creative expression can be leveraged as an asset in empowering low- and moderate-income communities.

June 21st:  The conference’s second day turned its lens to Baltimore, with a focus on Station North. The day began with a tour of the District, moving through sites of development as well as decay. From there, a two-part discussion commenced, beginning with 12 representatives from Baltimore's major arts institutions, foundations, developers, and community associations delivering short presentations on their involvement in the arts and development in Station North. Community members directly engaged the speakers, voicing their concerns, support, and questions about the future of Station North.  

Thursday, June 20th

MICA Graduate Studio Center

Doors Open

9:30am - 11:00am  
Session I: Empirical, Social, and Historical Perspectives on Gentrification

  • Richard Campanella, Tulane University
  • Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Metris Arts Consulting
  • Joe McNeely, Central Baltimore Partnership

11:15am - 12:45pm  
Session II:  Sustaining Cultural Vitality in Low- and Moderate-Income Communities

  • Roberto Bedoya, Tucson Pima Arts Council
  • Blair Ruble, Kennan Institute
  • Jeannie Howe, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance

The Windup Space, 12 W North Avenue

1:00pm - 2:15pm  

2:30pm - 4:00pm 
Session III:  Empowering Communities through Cultural Engagement

  • Gayle Isa, Asian Arts Initiative
  • Carla Perlo, Dance Place
  • Mike Weikert, Maryland Institute College of Art

MICA Graduate Studio Center

7:00pm - 9:00pm 
My Brooklyn Film Screening, presented in collaboration with Red Emma's


Friday, June 21st

Area 405, 405 E Oliver Street
9:00am - 10:45am  
Walking Tour of Station North
11:00am - 12:30pm  

Session I

  • Moderator: Tom Hall, Baltimore Choral Arts Society & WYPR
  • Stewart Watson, Area 405 co-owner & resident, Artist
  • Charlie Lankford, CopyCat Building owner
  • Carol Higgs, Cork Factory co-owner & resident, Artist
  • Michael Farley, City Arts Apartments resident, Artist

12:30pm - 2:00pm  
Lunch & Resource Fair

2:00pm - 3:30pm  
Session II

  • Moderator: Mel Freeman, Citizens Planning and Housing Association, Inc.
  • Paul Graziano, Baltimore City Housing Commissioner
  • Ben Stone, Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc.
  • Michael Mazepink, People's Homesteading Group
  • Don Donahue, Charles North Community Association
  • Dale Hargrave, New Greenmount West Community Association
  • Fred Lazarus, Maryland Institute College of Art

3:30pm - 4:00pm