Five months ago during the early months of quarantine, a tenacious group of arts organizations and artists joined a Zoom call to discuss how we might collaborate to support the social and emotional health of Baltimore City students during the summer months. Together, we decided on a booklet that would invite students to ‘visit’ arts organizations across the City through engaging projects and an art supply kit. As a collective of 22 artists and organizations, we created a 28-page color booklet and began collaboratively fundraising to print and purchase enough materials for 10,000 kits. GUESS WHAT? WE DID IT!
Thanks to the generosity of participating organizations, individuals and foundations we raised over $100,000 and created 10,000 Baltimore Arts Passport kits. Here is what the project looked like ‘behind-the-scenes’.
Making the Baltimore Arts Passport Booklet
From May to June, Partner organizations and artists meant monthly via Zoom to collectively plan the size, scope, and content of the Baltimore Arts Passport. We worked with the fantastic arts educator and graphic designer, Becky Slogeris. She had the monumental task of designing the look, organizing the content, and getting everything ready for print. A team of volunteers then translated every single word in the booklet from English to Spanish! By July, we had printed 8,000 Passport booklets in English and 2,000 in Spanish.
Picking and Packing Pallets of Art Supplies
The project really took shape once we received our first pallet of 5,000 sketchbooks! Partner organization, Future Makers managed pandemic-related shipping delays, received and offloaded pallets, and assembled kits. Each kit contained a Baltimore Arts Passport booklet, sketchbook, watercolor, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, glue stick, and #2 pencils.
Distributing the Baltimore Arts Passport
Teamwork makes the dream work when you are moving 10,000 kits out to 36 community partners across the City. Emanuel Figueroa, Annual Fund Director for Port Discovery Children’s Museum moved mountains in the Port Discovery van alongside volunteers from Baltimore Clayworks, Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center, Lakeland Community STEAM Center, Future Makers and Arts Every Day. From day 1, project partners were committed to getting the Baltimore Arts Passport to students and families lacking access to technology and summer camp programs.
Together, we identified 36 community organizations already distributing meals, groceries, and essential services to the community. In addition, the Enoch Pratt Free Library families can pick up a kit from one of the 13 Enoch Pratt Free Library Sidewalk Service sites or from Baltimore Office of Promotion & Arts at the JFX Farmers Market every Sunday.
Setting Sights on the Future
Despite the significant challenges arts organizations and artists continue to face because of the pandemic, the Baltimore Arts Passport demonstrates what is possible through collaboration. As the organizing partner, we are grateful for each partner, volunteer, distributor, and donor that made this project possible. In the coming months we plan to collaboratively reflect, refine, and dream up opportunities for Summer 2021. Stay tuned!