Why Live In An Arts District?

If you’re looking for somewhere to live in Baltimore, finding an actual place is the easy part; Baltimore’s got a ton of apartments and row houses that are up for grabs. It’s finding the right neighborhood that’s the tricky part for some people.

For artists in the Baltimore area, the solution is the Arts and Entertainment Districts: Station North and Highlandtown Arts.

Both were established as Arts and Entertainment Districts by Baltimore City in 2002 and were meant to foster more artistic communities within the area.

That’s what sets living in an arts district apart from living anywhere else in the Baltimore area. An artistic community full of creatives. Not only do the residents benefit, but the surrounding community does as well.

Local businesses like the Patterson Perk coffee shop on Eastern Avenue in the Highlandtown Arts district are able to stay open due to the number of artistic regulars coming in to relax in the vintage-inspired atmosphere the coffee shop offers.

Jen Tuydings, owner of the Patterson Perk, says that the neighborhood has changed drastically from when she first became the owner of the 10-year-old coffee shop five years ago.

“It’s become a bit more gentrified, but I like where it’s been going these past five years,” Said Tuydings. “You see the blue-collared, middle class post-college grad living next to people that have been there for 100 years, but even though you have that core community, people are still tight.”

Coming into his third year living in the Highlandtown Arts district , Foster Lee, the sponsorship chair for the Charm City Roller Girls, notes the artistic atmosphere created by the artists and creative people that live there.

“You get a lot of weird people and funky, creative stuff going on, but it helps make it a good arts scene.” Said Lee.

Also, with an “outsider’s perspective,” Lee sees the importance of establishing arts districts in the Baltimore area and the potential issue of retaining Baltimore artists from leaving to go bigger art scenes in Washington D.C. and New York City.

“It[Baltimore] is like minor league New York City, in that sense,” Said Lee. “ It’s one thing to get them there and give them a place to live, and then another to make them stay, because they’ll need the support and expertise from certain resources to promote them and stabilize them to keep them here.”

To help alleviate the issue of artists leaving the area and provide incentives for artists to live in Arts and Entertainment Districts, Maryland legislature and Baltimore City established property and income tax incentives for those who lived there.

The property tax applies to improvements and renovations to buildings that provide live and work space for artists or gallery/performance space for arts organization. The tax credit lasts for 10 years.

The income tax credit that gives artists living and working in an Arts and Entertainment District a tax credit for income made from any work that created in the district.

Also, programs within the arts districts, like the Creative Alliance at Patterson Park’s residency program that allows artists to reside at the Patterson for one to three years, give artists a place to live and opportunities to get known in the art community.

Jed Dodds, the artistic director for the Creative Alliance, states that the goal of the program is to attract artists from elsewhere to stay in Baltimore.

“It’s a great professional program for artists to get a boost in visibility in a highly networked environment.” Dodds said.

Check out some of the notable housing options within each of the city’s Arts and Entertainment Districts!

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