What is Light City?
Baltimore has tried to conjure many types of events to bring people into the city. First there was the Grand Prix, a car race which led to road closures and lots of costs for Baltimore residents and taxpayers. With Light City, Baltimore ventures into international art and multicultural festivities.
The Verdict is in!
After only 2 years, I can say this for a fact: I'm a fan. Free art? Easy involvement for the public? Something for all ages? This is a great way to get residents of Baltimore (and beyond) to get outside and enjoy the city.
Reinventing the Wheel?
The idea for a lighted art festival is not new - it's an up-and-coming art culture that has spread all over the world: Prague, Sweden, UK, France, and numerous other countries. In the US, however, it's almost completely unheard of. There's no Light City D.C. or N.Y.C. This is a completely Baltimore event right now, it puts Baltimore on the map, and elevates the culture of the city.
So what's the big deal with lights? It is a dramatic way to show off a city. Hologram shows? Optical illusions? 3D web effects? Dramatic up-lighting of sculpted pieces? Social commentary? Lights are a dramatic way to highlight an idea, an area, and a city.
The Baltimore Way.
Light City spans multiple Baltimore neighborhoods: from one end of the Inner Harbor near Federal Hill, to the eastern edges of Harbor East. Light City fills Baltimore piers and walkways with art, and lights the Baltimore skies ablaze with coordinated spotlight shows. Many of Baltimore's skyscrapers participate with their own color schemes and designs, with many businesses committing to this city-wide event. Hundreds of thousands of Baltimore residents, Maryland residents, and beyond flock to the city to see the sights.
At What Cost?
Each sculpture or lighted art installation is sponsored by a company, an organization, or an artist. Large companies like Baltimore's main electric suppler BG&E, insurance groups like Kaiser Permanente, and others pitch in to create elaborate and sponsor installations that require heavy duty audio and visual equipment. Artists from all over the world sign up, and bear the responsibility of installing their creations then breaking down the pieces to restore Baltimore to its original splendor.
Every Baltimore bar, restaurant, and retail store is open and ready to accept the business. This event draws hordes of people who are ready to spend money and enjoy themselves - it's a perfect mix of fundraising for the city, while limiting costs for taxpayers. I wish every public event was as impactful to Baltimore's culture and economy. Next year, come check out Baltimore's very own Light City.