Mission & History
The Creative Alliance builds communities by bringing together artists and audiences from diverse backgrounds to experience spectacular arts and education programs and engage in the creative process. We provide support to area artists, promote Baltimore as a center for creative production, act as a positive force in our community, and advocate for cultural expression rooted in a sense of place.
Founded by volunteers in 1995 as the Fells Point Creative Alliance, the organization operated for several years out of an old Fells Point rowhouse as an innovative hybrid of gallery, performance space and artist guild. Integrating the arts and humanities into the fabric of daily life, the Creative Alliance presented exhibitions of contemporary art, readings of poetry and fiction, workshops for adults and youths, and lectures on regional aspects of art and history. Partnerships were built with neighborhood businesses and community organizations, and both audiences and memberships grew exponentially each year.
As the demand for space grew, the Creative Alliance established performance venues first at a former Moose Lodge in Highlandtown (“the Lodge”), then at a former trolley barn in Fells Point (“the Ground Floor”). Meanwhile, programs continued to expand. Responding to a need from filmmakers, for career support services for film, video and digital artists were added to programs already offered for visual artists. Saturday life drawing sessions went from monthly to biweekly to weekly affairs. Our children’s art education programs - initially a modest but successful monthlong Summer program in Southeast libraries - are now conducted year-round in teen centers, schools, libraries and in our new classroom. Signature events during this growth phase included Homicide Live, a benefit performance featuring actors from the hit TV show, Water Shorts, Fluid Movement’s first water ballet in Patterson Park, and the Great Halloween Lantern Parade directed by Molly Ross.
In 1998, the Creative Alliance began working with a coalition of business, religious and political leaders on a revitalization plan for Highlandtown, just northeast of Fells Point. The Creative Alliance proposed the idea of a multi-arts center with artist studios, galleries, a theater, sidewalk cafe, and offices. Neighborhood leaders responded enthusiastically and the landmark Patterson Movie Theater was selected as the site. In 2001, the Creative Alliance moved again, this time consolidating its offices, gallery and performance space under one roof, a former Pep Boys auto parts store. The move to Highlandtown demonstrated our commitment to the neighborhood, and allowed us to strengthen our partnerships in the area, including Southeast CDC.
The Creative Alliance established a $4.5 million capital campaign for the $3.6 million Patterson project. Former State Senator Perry Sfikas accessed the State of Maryland “smart growth” bond funds for the project and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, whose parents were Highlandtown shopowners, earmarked $750,000 in HUD funds. Major capital funders include the Abell Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation, William. G. Baker, Jr. Fund, The St. Paul Companies, Constellation Energy Group, and Amalie R. Rothschild, the Alvin and Fanny Thalheimer Foundation and National Arts Strategies.
The Creative Alliance reopened The Patterson as a multi-purpose arts center on May 16, 2003. The facility includes two galleries for contemporary art, a 200-seat flexible theater, a classroom, media lab, live/work studios for 8 artists and the Marquee Lounge, where neighbors and audience members can meet for drinks (and occasionally food) before and after shows.