“It is our hope that helping MICA add its presence and long-term commitment to the many private sector partners actively engaged in the East Baltimore initiative will turn out to be one more step in the process of recreating and transforming a community that has been deeply distressed for many years.”
Dr. Timothy Armbruster, President and CEO, Goldseker Foundation
MICA PLACE is not just a dormant building. It is alive with a constant flow of people, activities, programs, and art making up its lifeblood. It serves as a de facto headquarters for several MICA graduate programs that join together engagement with the community and academic work. Indeed, by its very nature, the building serves as a cultural and educational lifeline connecting the East Baltimore community and the graduate students that study there. The myriad diversified programs and projects based at MICA PLACE could not occur without someone to coordinate what happens there.
That’s why the Goldseker Foundation provided the College with a two-year grant to fund the MICA PLACE program manager position. The program manager serves as the linchpin of the operation, helping to design community-oriented exhibitions in the gallery spaces, working with faculty to allocate space for instruction and collaboration, and ensuring the safety and comfort of the building’s residents (90 percent of whom are MICA students).
“The Foundation made its investment in support of staffing the MICA PLACE project early on, to strengthen our long interest and investment in the broader East Baltimore Development initiative,” said Dr. Timothy Armbruster, Goldseker Foundation president and CEO. “Helping introduce MICA into the mix of partners in that venture seemed to us to add an important element, previously absent, to the work of restoring that community. This investment fits well within the Foundation’s typical strategic approach of early-stage, patient investment, particularly in projects that connect to other existing Foundation activities.”
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit for the role of program manager than its current holder, Kristy Taylor. Before coming to MICA, she was community liaison for the City of Baltimore’s Office of Neighborhoods, linking communities, organizations, and government agencies together to work towards common goals. She was also a library board member, helping to increase literacy by encouraging youth to use local branches as community centers.
In her role as program manager, Taylor is part air traffic controller, part landlord, and part community organizer. Not only is she responsible for addressing the needs of the students that live in MICA PLACE, the faculty that teach there, and the community partners that use it as a collaboration home, but she also serves as a key staff member of MICA’s Office of Community Engagement, helping director Karen Stults draw connections between all of MICA’s community and social engagement initiatives. Taylor has reached out to local community organizations, serving as a conduit between students and neighbors and community leaders.
Though the Goldseker Foundation does not normally fund the arts, it wasn’t a stretch for the organization to decide to support MICA PLACE. “Though rooted in the arts, MICA PLACE brings to the community a complementary educational and development dimension as well,” said Armbruster.