Greater Baltimore’s community of artists embraces a tapestry of personalities. Organized by artists and cultural organizations to nurture, promote and connect the cultural sector of Baltimore and its surrounding five counties, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) provides support that allows the arts in Baltimore to flourish. Executive director Jeannie Howe embraces the work of GBCA’s mission each day.
Before joining GBCA in January 2012, Howe worked in leadership positions for several nonprofit organizations from Alley Theatre to Baltimore Reads. She attributes her affinity for nonprofit service to the example her parents provided. Her mom insisted that she volunteer when she wasn’t working, and her dad was a fire marshal in Montgomery County. Most of her five siblings are involved in careers that provide service to others.
“Regardless of where I went with my career, I was always making a commitment to do things that contributed to my community and the greater good. The arts were also very much a part of my family’s life. In each area that I worked in, I gravitated to those that I would have a passion for but in which I could be creative and exercise my
creative thinking,” she says.
During her close to 10 years with GBCA, the organization has expanded its outreach to Baltimore’s cultural community with a focus on creating new professional development initiatives for artists, emerging artists and arts management leaders of color; supporting artists through programs like The Baker Artist Awards, which recognize artistic excellence; and advocating for the financial viability of the cultural arts sector.
She cites GBCA’s eighth year of work with its fellowship program for aspiring arts administrators of color. She comments on the continuing work of GBCA’s partnerships with Maryland Citizens for the Arts and the American Alliance of Museums to provide updates and calls to action to mobilize Baltimore’s creative community. And she observes the public outreach efforts of GBCA through its citywide cultural events calendar Culture Fly that shares information about cultural events happening in the region.
Howe says her objectives for the arts follow from “looking through the lens of equity and inclusion. I think one
of the parts about being a leader is recognizing when it’s time to step back when it wasn’t my voice that needed to be heard,” she says. “I’m inspired by what others have to contribute. What I’m really proud of as a leader is being able to channel the input we get in a way that’s respectful but also leads toward forward motion and achieving goals that help move our progress in the cultural community and the ways the cultural community impact the broader community.”