Module Three: Step One

April 2, 2009 at 7:45 pm (Reporting)

While artists and musicians may be flocking to Baltimore for it’s vast and supportive artistic scene, but that may not be the case for long.

Baltimore’s City Legislation is preparing to vote, May 6, on a bill regarding live entertainment venues. In place of the current zoning plan, venues will be required to apply for licenses, which they will have to reapply for every year. This is supposed to make it easier to open venues in Baltimore.

Unfortunately, venue owners and proprietors aren’t seeing eye to eye with City Council President, and the bill’s sponsor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (I intend to interview her this/next week). In fact, a group consisting of artists, performers and live arts supporters has formed calling themselves the Baltimore Live Arts Business Association (BLABA). The group has been gathering at the Hexagon on Charles Street, and is making appearances at the Community Work Sessions that are being held in the weeks leading up to the Council’s vote on the bill.

Bill 08-0163, which is still being is proposing that a licensing fee of $1000 dollars or more, be incurred, which is bad news for smaller venues that are bringing a lot of attention to Baltimore. Additionally, the bill will call for a code of “moral character” that will be checked on randomly in addition to the idea that venues licenses will be re-evaluated if there are 10 complaints within 10 block radius during a year.

As many see it, the passing of this bill will be the death of a good thing. Baltimore’s small venues, which house growing communities of artists and performers, will be forced to close, simply because they cannot afford the licensing code.

I think I’m going to talk to Adam Endres again, along with owners of other clubs in the Baltimore area, members of the community and some representative from the City Council. Additionally, I’m wanting to get some back story on the venues to add to the story.

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