SCUM (Segregated Communities and Upward Mobility): A state-of-the-arts manifesto with 10 points to improve the visual art scene

In the last year, we’ve seen a lot more frank conversations in Baltimore, particularly in the art scene, about equity of opportunity and funding. After the Art-Part’heid discussion in February, a Facebook group was created to continue the conversation, on which people post calls for entry or grant opportunities or links to their shows. And during the uprising we saw an “Artivist” march that began in Sandtown and came down to the Spin Cycle Laundromat for “Love on the Line,” a pop-up by Melani Douglass’ Family Arts Museum with about half a dozen performers. That day was all about working together and being together and experiencing some beautiful shit together—the experience was the art. It seems that Baltimore comes together when something lights a fire under our asses, but long-term collaborative stuff, at least in the visual arts, seems harder to nail down. There’s pressure all around for artists and organizations to work more collaboratively and to share resources, to examine the ways we can use art to build genuine relationships with each other. And especially in light of the uprising, we need to kill apathy. It’s crucial for artists and institutions to examine their own power and privilege, and to figure out ways to use that power responsibly. It’s idealistic to think that art can change the world on a grand scale, but art reflects the times, and it should shift our perspectives. Nothing should stay the same following the uprising because it’s clear that what we’ve been doing wasn’t working. Let’s take the same perspective to the art we make and how we expose people to that art. We need to break down barriers, make people feel welcome, and break down the idea that art is only for the ruling class who can afford it or those who “get it.”

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