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June 22, 2024

Free Fall Baltimore offers priceless fun

By NATALIE BERKMAN | October 10, 2009

Let's face it: For college students, money can be an issue. That is why it is sometimes hard to take full advantage of all that Baltimore city life has to offer. College costs enough without attempting to experience the city and, thus, emptying your wallet. Luckily for Baltimoreans everywhere, October is known as Free Fall Baltimore, "a month-long, free, city-wide arts extravaganza."

Free Fall Baltimore was created by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA), a non-profit special event and arts agency. Their purpose is to inspire artists and get the Baltimore community involved - they organize festivals, fireworks, farmers' markets and more in order to build a more eclectic and dynamic city. Specifically, during Free Fall Baltimore, they aim to promote commnity-wide involvement and interest in Baltimore's cultural organizations.

So, what exactly is free during Free Fall Baltimore? Since this movement promotes the arts, it seems only natural that many museums offer free admission and special exhibits this month. In fact, the whole program began four years ago when the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art began to offer free admission.

"The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts wanted the art experience to extend beyond these two institutions," Free Fall's communications director, Tracey Baskerville, stated. Other cultural arts-related organizations then began to offer free events, admission, and more hands-on events during October.

"This year's new participating organizations include Ballet Folklorico Mexico Vivo, Everyman Theater, jazz collaboration Contemporary Arts, Inc., and Dance Rink, which is a unique dance and theater experience," Baskerville said.

This is in addition to the returning attractions that were popular in previous years: the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore Public Works' Big Truck Day, Hot Glass and Clay Workshops, and more. With performances to see, museums to visit, and hands-on interactive events, October can be an exciting month for Baltimore.

Check out the nine museums and schools of art that are offering free admission, including some that are right on or near campus - the BMA, the Homewood Museum and the Walters. See a Bashi Rose exhibit about the civil rights battle at the American Visionary Art Museum, or play with model trains at the B&O Railroad Museum. The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) also has several exhibitions.

If art museums don't appeal to you, perhaps a free play would be enjoyable. The Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theater will put on free one-act plays and comedy shows, an improv show, and a perfromance by a group of Poe interpreters. See the dress rehearsal of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at Centerstage or just take a tour of the historic Hippodrome Theater. There are also free Shriver Hall concerts right on campus, and Baltimore Symphony concerts are just a short drive away.

Not only is there a lot to do during Free Fall Baltimore, but everything is specific to Baltimore.

"Originally, organizations received grant money to off-set the costs of their programs for the first two years," Baskerville said. "The grant money was provided by Baltimore City. But now organizations cover the costs of their programming."

With this economic situation, the Free Fall Baltimore extravaganza is a great way to support the city and its arts. A free promotion of an event can lead to future attendance at others and this logic has proven to be successful for the last four years.

"In the first year, more than 180,000 people participated in Free Fall. The program continues to be successful with many attractions getting a lot of newcomers or return visitors during Free Fall each year," Baskerville said.

An integral part of the Hopkins experience is to experience the city, gaining both a practical and cultural education. While Hopkins adds to the community in Baltimore, students can also take advantage of the opportunities the city can offer.

In order to find out more, check Free Fall Baltimore's website: There, you can peruse a complete schedule of events or find free passes, news, and other information about Baltimore. Some events require pre-registration to secure a seat, so start looking now in order to be able to have access to everything.

Soon, the first wave of midterms will be over and before you return to D-level, maybe a visit to an art museum or a free play might be nice. It is a way to get off campus, to divert attention away from books, and to have fun - for free.

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