Baltimore Book Festival to follow First Thursdays out of Mount Vernon
The Baltimore Office for Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) announced today the Baltimore Book Festival will leave Mount Vernon, where it has been located for the past 18 years, due to restoration work on the Washington Monument. The Book Festival will be held at the Inner Harbor in 2014, and Kathleen Hornig, BOPA’s festivals director, says that the organization has an “open mind” about where the festival will be located subsequently.
When discussing whether the Book Festival would return to Mount Vernon, Hornig told CP: “If we can go back to Mount Vernon, that’s definitely on the table. [The neighborhood is] a player, but one that holds a special place in our collective book festival hearts. The monument has always been a part of the festival’s iconography. We didn’t make the decision lightly. We had to make a decision.”
Both Hornig and Tracy Baskerville, BOPA’s director of communications, said the decision to move the festival came rather suddenly when they saw the impact the Jersey walls around the Washington Monument would have. The Mount Vernon Conservancy, which created a master plan for major renovations of Mount Vernon’s parks, does not include the loss of festivals in the neighborhood as part of that plan and neither Baskerville nor Hornig were informed, when the project began, that it would disrupt their ability to host Baltimore Book Festival. When asked if the subsequent phases of the master plan, which includes significant construction on the parks and the removal of many of the trees currently there, might impact their decision to return to Mount Vernon, Baskerville acknowledges that it is “a concern.”
The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, which drew up the master plan, was unavailable for comment–and in fact, the email their website provides for press inquiries is not a working email.
This news comes after the announcement in late January that WTMD’s First Thursdays would permanently relocate to Canton. BOPA’s decision to move the festival to the harbor, rather than another neighborhood, was largely logistical. According to Baskerville, there was some discussion of moving the festival to Station North, “but we didn’t want to impact them too much” by adding the Book Festival to Artscape.
It became easier to move the Book Festival to the Inner Harbor given how close on the calendar it is to the Star-Spangled Spectacular, which BOPA is also working on in the area, says Mitch Case, a communications associate with the organization. The Book Festival will span from Bicentennial Plaza to Rash Field, he added.