Maryland’s Beyoncé Day is over. Baltimore City officials say it’s time to get excited about another Destiny’s Child singer coming to the state.
With much fanfare and a sleek 30-second teaser video, leaders on Monday revealed Kelly Rowland will headline Artscape in September.
The Grammy Award-winning songstress will perform Friday evening on one of the four outdoor stages while the main act on Saturday night will be Fishbone’s Angelo Moore, performing with his band Dr. Madd Vibe. Nile Rodgers & Chic will perform on Saturday afternoon, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will headline Sunday, WJZ reported Monday afternoon.
Festival organizers said they received more than 1,000 applications from artists, vendors and organizations looking to have a presence at the event.
“Artscape is one of Baltimore’s most iconic events, and its return this year is a marker of how our city is bouncing back after the pandemic,” said Mayor Brandon Scott in a news release. “Baltimore is a town full to the brim with incredible artists and a rich history supporting our arts community. There is simply no better way to showcase their talent and their importance to our city than through Artscape. I cannot wait to welcome the incredible lineup of artists, performers, and vendors and the thousands of Baltimoreans and visitors who will get to enjoy this experience.”
Scott teased the announcement on social media with a polished trailer in which André De Shields declared “Artscape is back,” punctuating each word. The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, the city agency behind Artscape, had earlier tried to book rapper Ja Rule for a high-profile performance but balked at some of his contract stipulations.
The headliner announcement comes at a crucial moment for city leaders and event organizers, who have struggled to come together to plan Baltimore’s multiday arts festival.
Artscape has not been held since 2019. The pandemic shuttered the massive event in 2020 and 2021, and the festival was not held in 2022 — one in a string of cancellations from BOPA that year. City Council members later voted to withhold funding from the agency.
Earlier this year, BOPA’s former CEO Donna Drew Sawyer resigned after pressure from Scott, who faulted the nonprofit for failing to produce the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Then the Baltimore City law department successfully blocked the agency from trademarking the annual Artscape festival.
Organizers also bungled the schedule for Artscape, which usually takes place in July but was moved to September this year and originally conflicted with the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Officials have since changed the dates to Sept. 22 to 24, though Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, begins at sundown that Sunday.
Major cultural institutions including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Lyric Baltimore, the Maryland Institute College of Art and the University of Baltimore have also raised concerns about Artscape. They wrote to the Scott administration in July about what they described as a lack of preparation and the possibility the festival could encroach on their plans: The September dates overlap with BSO’s annual gala, MICA’s parents’ weekend, classes scheduled at UB and several shows planned at The Lyric.
The four institutions, which are based in Midtown-Belvedere and Bolton Hill, where the festival traditionally has a large footprint, noted that BOPA staffers said Artscape’s expansion throughout more neighborhoods this year would create “potentially crippling immediate and long-term impacts of a less than successful outcome on the City, the festival attendants, the neighborhood, and our respective institutions.”
The institutions also noted that they are unable to accommodate BOPA’s “request of complimentary usage of their respective facilities.”
But another memorable facility will be making its return for Artscape: The historic Parkway Theatre will reopen just for that weekend, and will show the Maryland Film Festival shorts festival.
City leaders on Monday said Artscape’s footprint will expand from the usual place in the Bolton Hill and Mount Royal neighborhoods to include areas across North Avenue into the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Festivalgoers will be able to explore the areas along North Avenue between Charles Street and Maryland Avenue, as well as Charles Street up to West 20th Street, according to a news release.
Baltimore Banner reporter Emily Sullivan contributed to this article.