Art helps bring back Baltimore one brushstroke at a time

Nov 02, 2011

Since the riots of 1968, Baltimore’s Greenmount West neighborhood has struggled with crime, poverty and urban decay. Roughly 50 percent of the buildings are empty, and it has been decades since anything new has been built.

But in 2010, Bank of America made an investment in the neighborhood, helping turn a vacant property into City Arts – a vibrant, affordable housing development serving artists. City Arts offers 69 rental apartments, eight town homes and a visual arts gallery and performance arts space that are professionally managed.

“That is pretty much a miracle for an artist,” said Ashby Foote, City Arts’ marketing coordinator. “Living in the building we have a number of performers. We have writers, painters, sculptors, photographers and all of that creativity is contagious.”

City Arts has sprung to life and is giving hope to the troubled neighborhood. “It has been a renaissance,” said Dale Hargrave, president of New Greenmount West Community Association. “People have discovered how vibrant a community this actually is.”

“This neighborhood is coming together,” added Walter H. Jefferson Jr., facility manager at City Arts.

Charlie Duff, president of Jubilee Baltimore Inc., said City Arts has a waiting list that is a couple of years long. “It is a tremendous success that way,” he said. “Twenty years from now you will be able to come to Baltimore and walk for miles and be in great city neighborhoods every step of the way.”

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