A Baltimore-based nonprofit has organized a collaborative effort among the city’s most influential cultural organizations to help students access the arts this summer.
Arts Every Day, along with a group of 22 artists and organizations, is hoping to distribute Baltimore Summer Arts Passports to 10,000 students.
Participating organizations include the Baltimore Museum of Art, the National Aquarium, the Walters Art Museum, Port Discovery Children’s Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.
Each passport contains a booklet, which is offered in English or Spanish, a sketchbook, colored pencils, a watercolor kit and a glue stick. The booklet allows students to “travel” to participating city arts organizations with themed content that encourages writing, drawing, making, dancing or acting.
Betty Gonzales, communications and development coordinator at AED, said the idea for the project was conceived during an Artful IDEAS Exchange, a virtual conversation where the nonprofit’s staffers talk with local art partners.
AED’s partners have put most of their programming on hold since students can no longer travel on field trips due to COVID-19.
“So, we thought, ‘Well what’s a great way to still get our Baltimore city students access to the arts?’” Gonzales said. “And not just any arts, but the organizations that they would probably still have contact with throughout the school year and summer?”
AED advocates for equitable access to quality arts education in 42 Baltimore city schools, said Gonzales. It raises funds to help schools send students on arts-themed field trips, and it already works closely with many of the institutions involved in this project.
AED also brings local artists into classrooms for residency programs, where they teach art by integrating it with common core courses, like social studies and math.
AED hopes to distribute the passports at Baltimore city’s meal sites and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, said Gonzales, specifically in areas where officials know students are not enrolled in summer camps. The first 5,000 passports would be distributed from July 16 to 20.
The organization was able to raise more than 96 percent of its $100,000 fundraising goal in just under a month. This was not too difficult, said Gonzales, because many partner organizations are nonprofits and had leftover funding that could not be transferred to the next fiscal year.
Gonzales said that although this project was an invention of necessity, she hopes it will continue.
“It took something like this for us to realize that we’re all in the same boat, and we’re all in the same neighborhood when it comes to arts and cultural experiences,” Gonzales said. “And so, when we all were in the same boat of trying to figure out how to access our students and our audiences, we kept commenting on how great it is that we’re working together like this for the first time. And I hope that this isn’t something that ends.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported the number of passports that would be distributed from July 16 to 20 as 500,000 rather than 5,000. The Daily Record apologizes for this error.