Le Mondo is a artist-owned-and-driven project creating a multi-use community hub and experimental performance complex in Baltimore. Thanks to the amazing Baltimore community, Le Mondo has grown from the seeds of an ambitious dream among a group of artists into a blossoming reality on Baltimore’s Howard Street. Comprised of three buildings on Baltimore’s historic Howard Street corridor, the project will champion a diverse community of arts and community organizations, individual artists, curators, and arts-lovers in the city. Here’s how far we’ve come:
A group of artist-organizers came together to address the growing issues of safe, affordable art space and to create a way to collectively empower each other and share resources. The result of those conversations was Le Mondo.
2014 – 2015
This collective of artists and arts groups submitted a proposal to the city of Baltimore for a set of buildings on the 400 block of Howard Street. Our goal: creating lasting and affordable space driven by artists for artists; building a critical mass of shared resources and energies; elevating and sustaining our experimental arts community.
We raised funds to buy the buildings from the city and were able to raise $50,000 to do so last year – thanks to almost 200 donors and a matching grant award! By the end of last year, we secured ownership of three historic buildings to realize our dreams of an artist-owned multi-use performance arts complex and community hub – one that championed bold new art and affordable space while creating a new model for economic empowerment and community development in Baltimore.
We began work on our first venue, MONDO, at 404/406 North Howard Street. Our neighborhood has a rich history as Baltimore’s commercial district – an area once full of theaters, restaurants, department stores, and retail. MONDO was originally built as a silent film house and vaudeville theater in 1916! We celebrated its birthday and got to work transforming it to its original arts use. Thanks to a team of industrious volunteers and enthusiastic Le Mondo members, MONDO is rounding the bend to be open seven days a week in 2017.
We’re raising funds to open the doors of our first building and venue to the public! MONDO will be: a neighborhood bar and mid-sized performance venue for performance of all kinds – theater, music shows, dance, and more; meeting space; and artist studios for individual and small arts organizations. Our mission is to keep this venue artist-oriented and affordable. MONDO will bring a dense and active space to the 400 block of N. Howard St. and an accessible and much-needed mid-size performance venue addition to Baltimore.
Opening MONDO will propel the buildout of our adjacent two historic buildings. These building will house: a black box theatre and dance space, affordable live/work apartments, workshop facilities, rehearsal space, classroom space, and a cafe.
About Our Neighborhood
Once the center of Baltimore’s commercial district and the home to a range of vaudeville and touring performance houses, the Howard Street corridor has suffered neglect and deinvestment for decades.
The Le Mondo project, with it’s focus on arts-ownership, the performing arts, and affordable live/work spaces, will be a major milestone and catalytic anchor for downtown’s Westside. The Westside neighborhood is now part of the newly-formed Bromo Arts District and Le Mondo now joins a growing hive of arts activity downtown alongside organizations such as Current Gallery, EMP Collective, Eubie Blake Cultural Center, DCAC, MAP, Everyman Theatre, 14K Cabaret, Platform Arts, Springsteen Gallery, Gallery 4, Muse 360, Psychic Readings, Annex Theater, Arena Players, Open Space, and several other artist-run spaces who call the neighborhood home.
Why We Are Doing It!
Le Mondo addresses a growing need for truly affordable and sustainable space for individual artists and small arts organizations in Baltimore through artist-ownership and community-led development. The creative class has widely been recognized and exploited as an agent of increasing property value, branding neighborhoods and triggering gentrification. Arts districts pop up with no artist-owned or controlled spaces, taking the direction and definition of the art out of the hands of the artists. Meanwhile there is no security, no sustainability, no leverage in the very spaces artists live and work in. Real estate is not supposed to be for artists themselves.
This is a chance to change that in downtown Baltimore.
Le Mondo creates a safe and enduring home for the appreciation and incubation of new, daring work in the city while bringing new life to a once-thriving corridor in the city.
Who We Are!
Carly J Bales
Board of Directors
Carly J Bales
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We’re always looking for extra hands and minds.