Baltimore Center Stage (BCS) is excited to announce the Shared Space Initiative, a new industry-leading program aimed at creating a more equitable civic arts ecology in the Greater Baltimore region. This initiative will utilize BCS’ largest physical asset – its almost 110,000 square foot building, encompassing all theaters, administrative offices, rehearsal space and costume and scenic shops – as a civic and cultural anchor for Baltimore and the State of Maryland by sharing its spaces, staff time and knowledge, and community connections with values-aligned artists, organizations, and neighbors. BCS will offer complimentary space to community organizations, with associated labor costs paid at-cost or subsidized by BCS and its funders.
“At BCS, we know that for artists and creative changemakers in Baltimore and beyond, access to resources like space, networks, finances, and more is not equitably distributed,” said Annalisa Dias, Director of Artistic Partnerships and Innovation. “We also know this scarcity drives competition rather than collaboration. BCS firmly believes that when Baltimore’s arts ecology wins, BCS wins, and vice versa. Our new Shared Space Initiative will help enrich and solidify our community’s robust cultural economy.”
The Shared Space Initiative will provide BCS space, staff, and other resources to a variety of partners. Over the last few years, BCS has developed relationships with organizations who are now Core Shared Space community partners, including Native American Lifelines, the Black Arts District, and LoveGroove Entertainment. These organizations, whose missions align with ours, receive fully subsidized space for multiple activities throughout a calendar year, thought-partnership and producing support from our staff, and marketing support through BCS’s channels. This initiative will also be offered to other values-aligned institutions, artists, and events.
These partners will be able to access BCS’ theaters, lobbies, meeting rooms, and other spaces for their events, from meetings to rehearsals to festivals. Through the use of shared space and BCS’ human resources, BCS offers these organizations an artistic home and the support they need to serve their own communities.
BCS has also held a variety of One-Off Shared Space activities throughout the year. Some examples include an experiential learning visit with dance students at Western High School, the 2022 Baltimore Teacher Network’s Beacon of Light Awards, and Chase Brexton’s 2023 National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day celebration. Thanks to the generosity of BCS’s funders, the theatre is also able to offer subsidized space for all non-profit organizations at a 25% discount from standard rental rates. Partners for one-off events will receive 75% subsidized space and marketing support.
For the last two years, BCS has been piloting the Shared Space Initiative through experimenting with one-off events, conversations with community partners and bringing practices into alignment across staff departments. Over the last two years of piloting this program, BCS has held 21 events, supported 14 community partners and offered hundreds of hours of staff support. These events ranged from the 2023 Womxn of the World Poetry Slam (Black Arts District) to a graduation ceremony for Baltimore’s Native community (Native American Lifelines & the Baltimore American Indian Center) and welcomed thousands of people to BCS, many of whom visited for the first time.
“The new Shared Space Initiative magnifies the role of BCS as a cultural catalyst in support of the powerful creative ecosystem in Baltimore and the State of Maryland,” said Adam Frank, Managing Director. “As a flagship theater, we think it’s our responsibility to act from a mindset of abundance, expanding access to resources that enable artists to flourish and helping build the interdependent relationships that make our communities thrive. For theaters around the country working to support their local community organizations in similar ways, we welcome your thought partnership and look forward to sharing what we’ve learned.”
Any organizations looking for more information on the program and to apply for space at BCS can visit https://www.centerstage.org/about/shared-space-initiative/
The BCS Shared Space Initiative is made possible with the support of the Morris Mechanic Foundation and PNC Bank.