Artscape, 2019.

Baltimore’s Artscape festival won’t take place again this year, according to the agency that produces the annual event, and a decision about the 4th of July fireworks at the Inner Harbor hasn’t been made.

“Due to the continuing threat from the COVID health crisis, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) announces that Artscape, the Baltimore summer tradition, will not be held this year.”

In its announcement, the agency noted that the festival typically draws more than 300,000 people to Midtown Baltimore and the Station North Arts & Entertainment District during the month of July.

“Avoiding large public gatherings will help to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors,” the announcement said.

This is the second year that the live Artscape festival has been canceled. Last year, BOPA organized a series of virtual events instead and spread them over several weeks.

BOPA said a decision about whether to hold the city’s annual 4th of July fireworks display at the Inner Harbor, another event produced by the agency, is also tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Again, the COVID health crisis will determine whether it will be safe to gather,” it said.

“Guided by the City’s Health Department, BOPA will continue to monitor the COVID impact on Baltimore’s 4th of July Celebration and the Picnic at the Top of the World Observation Level and, in conjunction with the Mayor’s office, make an announcement closer to the event. Please check the BOPA website,, for updates.”

In lieu of an in-person Artscape festival this year, “Artscape fans and the Baltimore community can still experience some of the art, food, and festival atmosphere of Artscape every Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to noon at the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar under the Jones Falls Expressway,” BOPA said in its announcement.

In addition, one element of the Artscape festivities — the 16th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize — will take place this summer with an in-person finalists’ exhibition at the Walters Art Museum, from Thursday, May 27, through Sunday, July 18, 2021.

“We are disappointed to cancel Artscape again this year, but the health and safety of Baltimore citizens is our primary concern,” said Donna Drew Sawyer, the CEO of BOPA, in a statement.

“We look forward to celebrating together as a city next summer once it is safe to do so,” Sawyer said. “Fortunately, BOPA is thrilled to partner with the Walters Art Museum this year to bring back the in-person exhibition for the Sondheim Artscape Prize, a special highlight of Baltimore’s creative spirit and a wonderful opportunity to engage with and experience the arts this summer. We are also thrilled that every Sunday Baltimore…can safely gather at Baltimore Farmer’s Market for a ‘taste’ of that Artscape festival atmosphere. We look forward to seeing you throughout the summer.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.