The Urban Choral Arts Society Inc.
In the late 1960’s due to a lack of attention being given to cultural arts, the Neighborhood Parents Club (NPC) took on the task of forming an after school arts program. As a direct result of these efforts, the NPC at Baltimore’s Dunbar High School received support for the arts through a demonstration project funded by the Baltimore City Model Cities Agency. The initial grassroots effort, then, evolved into six cultural arts centers around the city.
Model Cites subsequently merged with Baltimore’s Community Action Agency in the mid-seventies to become the Urban Services Agency.
The focus of these centers was performing arts (dance, theater, band, voice, and instrument) and visual arts (painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture). In 1978, a seventh center was opened, establishing Gallery 409 (at 409 N Charles Street) as the Urban Services Agency’s premier cultural arts center.
Simultaneously, conversations were being held with Eubie and Marion Blake in an attempt to bring significant pieces of the Eubie Blake collection to his birth place of Baltimore. Agreements were reached and the title for the original permanent collection was given by Mrs. Blake, to the Maryland Historical Society while a portion of the original collection was housed at Gallery 409. The premier Urban Services gallery was renamed as the Eubie Blake Cultural Arts Center in 1983.
In 1993, a fire destroyed the Gallery 409 facility. Additionally, in 1993, a corporation was formed to support the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, Inc. As a result, the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center was housed at 34 Market Place at the Brokerage (now the Power Plant Live!). The pieces of the permanent Eubie Blake collection were taken into care by the Maryland Historical Society.
In 2000, the city of Baltimore transferred title of an historical property at 847 N. Howard Street to the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. Initial renovations were started using public city, state, and private funding. Full scale efforts continue to prepare the building to reclaim the Center’s portion of the Blake collection and to once again be the premier locale for cultural arts in Baltimore.
Having come full cycle, the Board, Staff and Community of the Eubie Blake Cultural Center are returning to the original and fundamental vision of those mothers from Dunbar High School and moving beyond by establishing not only programs for young people but also exciting and expansive programs--activities, events and performances for adults and seniors.