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MICA Offers Unique Civic Engagement and Graduate Programming in East Baltimore and Beyond

Media coverage includes a Sun front-page story, AP wire and Catholic Review

Posted 07.27.10 by MICA Communications

MACA students work with community residents

BALTIMORE--MICA is building upon its more than decade-long history of pioneering civic engagement through innovative, unique programming that immerses its faculty and students in community partnership and graduate study in East Baltimore and beyond. This, fall the College has renovated the former St. Wenceslaus School, 814 N. Collington Ave., into a year-round center for community arts and social design programs with apartments entitled MICA PLACE (Programs Linking Art, Culture and Education).

MICA PLACE"MICA has become the leader in designing academic programs that integrate art and design with civic engagement," MICA President Fred Lazarus IV said. "The programming that will occur in East Baltimore takes that original, transformational curriculum to the next level in what we hope will become an international model for collegiate civic engagement-immerse your students in the community, listen and learn from the community, and then create projects that make life measurably better for the citizens that live there and beyond."

READ: BmoreMedia's feature on the center for community arts and social design.
READ: Urbanite's pick for bright ideas.
VIEW: Facebook photos of a community opening.
• Also covered by the Associated Press and picked up nationally, as well as in Baltimore b free daily and several regional TV and radio stations. Additional coverage includes mentions of the new Office of Community Engagement, including in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.



MICA PLACE will be a hub for graduate study, preparing students for civic-minded careers in action-oriented community arts and social design work, as well as other professions. It will support community development, revitalization, and health and well-being in East Baltimore and beyond through community/college engagement, educational programs, and the development, documentation and dissemination of new knowledge and resources.

"This marvelous building will be the physical culmination of MICA's decade-long commitment to engaging artists and designers in partnerships, programs and projects aimed at improving the health and well-being of communities," said Ray Allen, MICA's vice president for academic affairs and provost. "Within East Baltimore, the center will provide citizens and the MICA community with an important means for coming together and arriving at a deeper understanding of mutual challenges and needs. At the same time, it will foster greater communication, trust and solidarity by allowing students and faculty to live and work in the community and interact with its residents on a daily basis."

Design CoalitionMICA PLACE will continue and expand upon the College's leadership in community arts and social design over the past decade in and with the Baltimore community and surrounding regions. In 2005, MICA launched the country's first M.A. in Community Arts program (MACA) to serve visual artists who wish to pursue careers in art-based community development. This year, MICA launched an M.F.A. in Community Arts. Professional growth opportunities for students in this field are also supported by the creation of the Community Art Corps (CAC), an AmeriCorps program, in 2003 and the Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) internship program in 1999. Social design initiatives include the Center for Design Practice (CDP), a multi-disciplinary studio established in 2007 that collaborates with outside organizations enabling the students to problem solve and use design to make a positive impact on society, and the Design Coalition class, founded 10 years ago as a MICA and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health partnership, which challenges students with social- and community-based design work with an emphasis on East Baltimore projects and relationships. In addition, graphic design, environmental design, video & film arts and general fine arts are just some of the undergraduate programs engaging in collaborative work focusing on public health education, urban development, historic preservation and empowerment building.

Projects housed in MICA PLACE will include social design initiatives-such as the Center for Design Practice and Design Coalition-and the M.A. and M.F.A. in Community Arts programs, along with other relevant graduate and undergraduate endeavors.

As part of their academic work in this facility, graduate students will pursue partnerships and collaborations with residents, organizations, educational institutions and government agencies to structure creative projects that address community needs and promote the well-being, development and prosperity of the neighborhood. Coursework may include development and leadership of programming, such as workshops for youth, community members and organizations that encourage empowerment and creative expression; community meetings and other interactions supporting reciprocal dialogue; exhibitions, performances, poetry readings and music recitals featuring neighborhood residents; documentation of oral histories of East Baltimore in print, sound and video; and social design projects that support urban revitalization, public health enhancement and other community-based initiatives.

MICA PLACE will include studios, a computer laboratory, and seminar and exhibition space, as well as graduate apartments. The studio and programming space will be located on the bottom two floors, and apartments will be on the top two.

The program manager of community engagement, a position in the College's new Office of Community Engagement (OCE), will serve as a key MICA representative in relation to the center and its programming, and will manage the administrative and operational functions of the building while working closely with the academic program directors. Startup funding for the program manager position has been provided by the Goldseker Foundation. The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has provided funding to support the work of a CAC member in East Baltimore beginning this fall.

In partnership with East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI), MICA is leasing the 24,000-square foot building through a 25-year, renewable contract.

Upgrades and renovations, totaling $1.3 million, are being made with support from the Rouse Company Foundation and a MICA trustee. During the construction process, led by architecture firm Ammon Heisler Sachs Architects P.C., MICA has hired contract companies that were 44 percent locally owned, 23 percent female owned and 20 percent minority owned. The engineer was Henry Adams L.L.C.

MICA is mindful of its carbon footprint by adaptively reusing an historic urban building for its expanded programming, using efficient lighting fixtures, heating and air conditioning units, and low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint and carpeting.

The cornerstone of the present St. Wenceslaus School building was laid on July 14, 1902. Until 1986, the school was part of the St. Wenceslaus Parish, which had formed in the late 19th century to serve the Czech community. The building was later converted to apartments for low-cost housing.

For more information about the College's innovative programming, contact MICA's Office of Communications at 410.225.2300.

Image caption (top to bottom): MACA students work with community residents; former St. Wenceslaus School building will host community arts and social design programming, photo by Christopher Myers '94; MICA Design Coalition student and AmeriCorps VISTA member install new sign in East Baltimore.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.