Artscape, the annual Baltimore cultural festival, will host the 36th iteration of the long running event July 21-23. This year’s theme is “Camp Artscape: Adventure Awaits.”
Friday night’s headliner will be legendary R&B artist Sheila E. Festivals Director, Kathleen Hornig, said in a statement, “Sheila E. has been on our wishlist for a couple of years and when we saw that she was available on our dates, we jumped right on it. We’re really excited to start Artscape with such a strong female lead.”
The weekend long festival will have a strong African-American presence.
The Morgan State University Sound Off Live! Stage will host a diverse mix of music from the winners of Sound Off Live! and local and regional singers and bands. On July 21the stage hosted by the HBCU will host Fruition Experience, a neo-soul group which produces “uplifting music that taps on your conscious mind and feeds your soul.” The group will be performing at 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Sound Off Live! Stage will host High-Brid Band, an all-African American rock band who aims to bring a new genre of music to the current generation. The band will be performing early on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Right after High-Brid Band performs, Wordsmith, a hip-hop artist and entrepreneur, will be performing with his mission of entertaining and educating through the “Message of Purpose.” The rapper leads by example through producing clean, marketable “music for the masses.”
Sheila E. will not be the only African-American to grace Artscape’s Main Stage. Right before her performance, April Sampe, a neo-soul artist will take the stage at 6 p.m. on Friday. On Sunday, T.K. Blue, an electric blues saxophonist will perform on the Main Stage early at noon.
The festival will close on Sunday with an African-American presence. Soul band Robert Randolph & The Family Band will take the Artscape Main Stage at 6:30, closing on the annual festival which brings revelers from all across the country.
This years’ festival will offer new and revived experiences, such as “Film at Artscape” which shows short films varying from animation, drama, documentaries and comedies at Parkway Theatre, home of the Maryland Film Festival. The films will be featured Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. with a Q&A discussion with the filmmakers after the premiere.
New this year is The Mess Hall, an interactive area with demonstrations and performances, featuring culinary arts, camp and outdoor-related education and entertainment.
Camp NASA: The Universe Awaits, is also a new exhibit featuring educational and interactive hands-on activities for “would-be space explorers of all ages.” Observers can see what life is like on the International Space Station, touch a moon rock and train like an astronaut. There will even be scale models of the next generation rockets which will transport humans to Mars.
The Baltimore Youth Councilwillalso be there to create art and perform at open mic among various other activities.
Artscape is America’s largest free arts festival which is expected to attract over 350,000 people this year. It will take place in the Mount Royal neighborhood between Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street.
Last year’s festival was marred by arrests of peaceful protesters rallying against police misconduct. Around 65 protesters blocked off a ramp of I-83 which was already closed due to the festival. Community organizing group Baltimore Bloc filed a class action lawsuit against the Baltimore City Police Department over the arrests earlier this month.