(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Light City and the Baltimore Book Festival will be held during the same week in 2019, Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts CEO Donna Drew Sawyer said on Wednesday.
The combined, Inner Harbor festival will be held Nov. 1-10, 2019.
“We are brightening the beacon of the individual festivals by combining the literary brilliance of the Baltimore Book Festival with the luminous glow of Light City,” Drew Sawyer said at an event Thursday, adding that the decision would benefit the city and its affiliated arts and events–focused nonprofit “artistically, operationally and financially.”
The move changes the date for both festivals, and organizers pointed to advantages.
Light City, which launched in 2015, was held in the spring around the last week of March or first week of April. The festival combined a light art walk on Inner Harbor that’s played host to many tech-enabled works, as well as a music festival and innovation conference focused on social change held during the day. Moving the festival to November will help add more time for the light art, as it falls in conjunction with the end of daylight savings time.
The Baltimore Book Festival was typically held in the fall, with this year’s coming around the end of September. In the case of the book festival, moving the date will help coincide with publication of more new books, since many are released later in the fall, officials said.
With the merger, the Book Festival will essentially become the conference portion of the festival. That immediately calls to mind what will become of “Labs@LightCity.” Over the last few years, the Light City innovation conference featured a series of daytime sessions at Columbus Center focusing on themes like health, education, social innovation and food over the week. Many members of Baltimore’s startup and entrepreneurship community were involved as speakers.
“BOPA listened carefully to our previous Labs attendees’ feedback and is taking the most popular elements of Labs and evolving them into a series of exciting evening events,” according to a statement from a BOPA spokesperson. “The speaker portion of Labs is now highlighted through the Baltimore Book Festival, as it continues its mission of addressing contemporary, innovative and historical issues through conversations, Q&A sessions, panel discussions and workshops.”
Details including speakers and performers are being released at a later date. Information sessions are also being planned for January, February and March.
Drew Sawyer, who was named CEO of BOPA in July, said the decision to merge the events came after conversations with stakeholders over her first 100 days on the job as she sought out a way for BOPA to make a big impact.
“What came out of those enlightening conversations was the realization that there was not a single spark we could ignite. There were two, flickering right in front of us,” she said. “Two of BOPA’s major creative initiatives are great on their own, but had the potential to exponentially illuminate each other and have an audacious creative impact on the city of Baltimore.”
Mayor Catherine Pugh said she is onboard with the combination, and said it putting two well-attended events together had the potential to be a magnet for visitors.
“Just to have both of those events down at the Inner Harbor at the same time, all I can say is wow,” she said.
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