Cultural Arts Program Exhibit Opens 3/7

By Guest Blogger, Angela Rodgers-Koukoui

I’m very pleased to announce the opening of the Cultural Arts Program photo exhibit next Monday, 2/15  3/7, from noon to 2 pm. The exhibit, which is a collaboration between Langsdale Library Special Collections and the Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies, will be located in room 317 of the H. Mebane Turner Learning Commons. The exhibit will feature a timeline with photographs, videos, and artifacts from the Cultural Arts Program, which began in Baltimore City in 1968 as part of the Model Cities Agency and continued through 1993 in the Urban Services Agency.

As the curator and designer of the exhibit, I would like to thank Langsdale Library for all of its assistance, as well as LEHS associate professor Dr. Nicole Hudgins for including this exhibit in the opening of the Ethics in the Arts Week at UB.

The Cultural Arts Program was one of the most successful art programs ever created in the history of Baltimore City. I say this not only as an alumna of the program, but also as a current art instructor and researcher who is eager to understand why high-quality youth arts education has been limited to so few in recent years. My quality of life was improved significantly by participating in the Cultural Arts Program as a child. I grew up in one of the poorest areas of Baltimore City. People who do not understand this kind of environment are unaware of the horrible impact of living in a sea of hopeless and what it can do to a child’s development. I was a walking statistic, born to fail; it was through the Cultural Arts Program that I was able to gain a sense of value of both my self-worth and my community. These values have been instilled in me and other CAP alumni, which is why so many of us are now teachers and community leaders running youth organizations throughout the country.

A lot of historic milestones occurred during the quarter-century run of the Cultural Arts Program. A few of these include the desegregation of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the celebration of the first African American Heritage Festival (AFRAM), and the creation of the first Urban Ballet Company. Barriers were broken, lives were saved from the streets, and the community was thriving in the field of the arts. I hope this exhibit will educate and enlighten others to understand the importance of quality art education for every child, especially in under-served areas of the city.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Langsdale Library Special Collections department. When I came to UB as a community researcher and discovered that Special Collections had my history in their archives, I had no prior knowledge of archivists or the role they play. Archivists Aiden Faust and Ben Blake have no idea that their commitment to preserving Baltimore’s history is what encouraged me to enroll here at UB. Now I’m not only a student, but also a student assistant in Special Collections. This has been a humbling experience, and I’m truly amazed by the outpouring of support I’ve had while attending UB.

I hope everyone is able to join us for the opening reception of the Cultural Arts exhibit next week March 7th!

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