Artscape will return Sunday after the rain and threat of winds from Tropical Storm Ophelia prompted organizers to cancel the full slate of events Saturday, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts said.
Although rain is still in the forecast for Sunday, the winds are expected to die down enough for the festival to go on, organizers said. Artscape will run from noon-5 p.m., starting an hour later than the original schedule posted on the festival’s website.
“The safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, artists, and attendees remain our utmost concern. We will continue to monitor weather conditions and take any necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all,” Todd Yuhanick, interim CEO for BOPA, said in a statement. “We are excited to resume activities at noon, just one hour later than originally scheduled, which allows for the many vendors and volunteers to set up for a great final day of Artscape 2023.”
Inner City and King Midas are set to headline the main stage outside the Mount Royal Station.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is performing a community concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Additional tickets have been made available free, BOPA said. A full schedule of performers can be found here.
After consulting with the Baltimore City Office of Emergency Management and the Baltimore City Fire Department, organizers decided Friday to cancel Saturday’s events, which were set to include Angelo Moore of Fishbone with his band Dr. MadVibe and Nile Rodgers & Chic.
At a press conference early Friday evening, Mayor Brandon Scott lamented the “unfortunate” impact of the storm on Artscape and said he understood the disappointment it caused patrons and artists.
“Of course I’m not happy, but the reality is my No. 1 responsibility is people’s safety,” he said. “We’re going to have Artscape tonight. We’re going to have Artscape on Sunday. But we are not going to have folks be in danger just for a festival.”
Friday’s slate went on as planned. Artscape is billed as one of the country’s largest free arts festivals. Programs include musical performances, visual arts, film, fashion, literature and comedy, all staged in the Mount Royal, Bolton Hill and Station North neighborhoods.
The storm is the latest of many recent setbacks, delays and changes that have beset the longstanding Baltimore tradition. The first was COVID, which shelved the event (first held in 1982) for three years. The last Artscape was held the summer of 2019.
It was expected back in 2022, when pandemic measures were all but gone, but was postponed one more year. This, after Scott publicly assured the city of Artscape’s return in 2022. The 2023 event was the first held in September instead of July, a change made because data showed visitors were discouraged from attending because of the summer heat.
The change initially caused a kerfuffle, because the original dates of Sept. 13-17 conflicted with the Rosh Hashanah holiday. Moving the event to Sept. 22-24 resulted in another conflict: Hampdenfest and Remfest, normally held in late September, were forced to cancel.
Baltimore Banner reporters Hugo Kugiya and Adam Willis contributed reporting.