Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced Tuesday the appointment of a new senior adviser for arts & cultural affairs in the mayor’s office, setting the stage for the city’s shift away from using its existing arts council to stage events and coordinate with the artistic community.
Citing the ongoing tension with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, Scott said the appointment of Tonya Miller Hall will provide a bridge of stability between City Hall and the arts community. Miller Hall is the lead marketing and program officer for BOPA but will leave that position “effective immediately,” according to a Tuesday news release.
In an interview with The Baltimore Banner, Scott said that he’s long been interested in hiring a dedicated arts liaison — pointing to his transition report, which mentions creating such a position — and that now is the time to do it given BOPA’s ongoing issues.
“Cultural events that the mayor’s office has been putting on, like AFRAM, like Charm City Live, have gone without a hitch and have been extremely, wildly successful,” he said. “Having her [Miller Hall] in my office dedicated to working on these things that are important to the city allows us to make sure that we’re focusing on that in the right way.”
The move comes as Scott continues to pressure BOPA’s board to remove the organization’s CEO, Donna Drew Sawyer, who remains in the role despite the mayor’s request. In a late-night email blast Friday, Scott said the board had until Jan. 15 to remove Sawyer or BOPA would not receive city funding in fiscal year 2024.
The back-and-forth began last week when BOPA announced it would not be holding its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Scott said Sunday a parade would be held, and it would be staged by the mayor’s office.
Miller Hall has served as BOPA’s chief marketing and programs officer since August 2021. She is a known entity in City Hall, having previously served as the executive director of Charm TV, the city’s video production arm, under former mayors Catherine Pugh and Bernard C. “Jack” Young. Before moving to Baltimore, she worked in New York City in marketing and events firms with a focus on the fashion industry.
Representatives from BOPA and its board did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
This article has been updated.
Baltimore Banner reporter Brenda Wintrode contributed to this report.