Trust us: We know you have a lot of questions regarding this year’s Artscape. Whether it was losing out on two headliners, or the date changes, or just the general delayed announcement of plans, there has been no shortage of news surrounding the festival’s return. Luckily for you, we gathered all of that information in one place so you can have all of the answers that you need, from which exhibit to see to where to park to what happened with Kelly Rowland.
What is Artscape?
Debuting in Baltimore in 1982, Artscape is the largest free outdoor arts festival in America — or at least it was in 2019, before its three-year hiatus due to COVID. But the festival is back this weekend and will include art exhibitions, music performances, food, community gathering spaces, a marketplace, children’s activities and more.
When is Artscape?
Artscape traditionally happens in July, but this year’s is Friday through Sunday. The change occurred because, according to visitor data, attendees spent less time at the festival year after year due to the broiling summer heat.
The change came with its fair share of criticism and consequences, though. The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts originally scheduled the new dates for Sept. 13 through Sept. 17, but it was quickly pointed out that those dates conflicted with the Rosh Hashana holiday. The current date of Sept. 22-24 has caused its own drama: Hampdenfest and Remfest, which normally take place in mid-to-late September, were forced to cancel, and, in the former’s case, were denied an event permit because of the bandwidth required for Artscape.
Where is Artscape?
Artscape always takes place in the Bolton Hill and Mount Royal neighborhoods, but this year it has expanded across North Avenue into the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Attendees will now be able to explore the areas along North Avenue, Charles Street, Maryland Avenue and West 20th Street. (Organizers are calling this section “Artscape North of North.”) The change in location originally caused some issues with local institutions in the area who already had events scheduled for this weekend: The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has its annual gala on Saturday, it’s the Maryland Institute College of Art’s parents’ weekend, and The Lyric has a number of shows throughout the weekend. But things appear to have settled now.
Who is performing?
After several changes to the headliners, Artscape will be headlined by DJ Pee .Wee (Anderson .Paak’s alter ego) and Muni Long on Friday night. Angelo Moore of Fishbone with his band Dr. Madd Vibe and Nile Rodgers and Chic will perform on Saturday. The BSO will close out the festival on Sunday as new music director Jonathon Heyward conducts his first free community concert. These, as well as a number of other acts, will perform on one of four outdoor stages (the main stage, MICA stage, Station North stage and North of North stage) over the course of the weekend. You can find that schedule here.
Rap artist Ja Rule was set to be the original Friday headliner, but negotiations fell through last minute. BOPA’s $75,000 offer to the 2017 Fyre Festival co-founder was rescinded after his management added handwritten amendments to a draft contract.
What was the dilemma with Kelly Rowland?
The former member of Destiny’s Child was named Ja Rule’s replacement, but canceled her appearance less than a month later, and just a few weeks prior to the event. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the “Motivation” singer’s withdrawal stemmed from a disagreement between her team and Artscape organizers about what kind of backing band would accompany her on stage.
What kind of programming and exhibits will be there?
Artscape is including several new additions this year. In an effort to elevate the Baltimore fashion community, they will put on a runway show dubbed “Project Artscape.” They are also incorporating “B_23,” an indoor art exhibition that will feature works from artists in the region. Kidscape and Teenscape, which take place on Saturday and are made up of all free activities, will be geared more toward families.
This year will also see the return of the Artists’ Market, where artists’ work will be judged by a jury — and you can buy the pieces, of course.
There will also be a Makers’ Market with Baltimoreans’ work for sale, a film shorts festival at the temporarily reopened SNF Parkway Theatre, a music and beer garden, improv, pop-up exhibits and more.
What’s the best way to travel to Artscape?
Public transportation is the encouraged method to get to the festival. The MTA won’t charge for rides on buses, SubwayLinks, light rail, MARC trains or MobilityLink van services the entire weekend.
What will road closures look like?
The Banner and its media partner WJZ have a detailed list of all road closures as well as a map.
Where should I park?
If you have to drive, it’s recommended that you park at either Penn Station Garage or Mount Vernon Lot. They have rates of $15 for eight hours and $16 for all-day parking, respectively.
What if it rains?
Well, they certainly don’t have to worry about the heat this weekend: It’s supposed to be wet and on the chillier side. But Artscape is rain or shine, so pack an umbrella and a coat!