Baltimore-based EMP Collective brings artists together to create provocative, social, multimedia events, and brings new, diverse art to the city. In its newly opened space, EMP Collective plans to showcase everything from visual arts to theatre and film and revitalize the neighborhood with art. chatted with EMP Collective Artistic Director Carly Bales, who talked about the organization’s mission, work and upcoming projects.

CBSBaltimore: How did the EMP collective start? What is its mission?

Carly Bales: Our roots are in the South (Tallahassee, Fla.) where a bunch of us kids met on theatre and film projects during college. We all spread out over the country and a few years later I found myself in the D.C./Baltimore area. I reconnected with a few old friends in Baltimore to work on a devised theatre project called ‘We’re All Gonna Die!’ in 2010 which debuted in a converted mill space in the Station North Arts District. ‘We’re All Gonna Die!’ was a lot of fun and gained surprising support from the community so we decided, ‘Screw it. Let’s keep doing this!’ A year and a half later, we’re a nonprofit arts organization with dedicated members, a rotating cast of characters and our own space in downtown Baltimore.

EMP is just a bunch of weirdos who love art and making art and want to foster others in the community to love art and make art.

empcollective2 Spotlight On: EMP Collective

(credit: Carly Bales)

CBSBaltimore: Can you tell us about the new space, and what kind of shows and projects you plan to hold there?

Carly Bales: EMP Collective hopes to nourish emerging artists with its new space at 306 W. Redwood, in the forgotten Loft District.  Funded by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore’s Operation Storefront grant, this multi-use arts venue is comprised of a rotating art gallery for developing artists that doubles as a rehearsal/performance space for theatrical and musical events, experimental collaboration, workshops and film screenings.

Our own programming includes a monthly gallery show, Sunday night film screenings as part of a monthly series, our Tuesday night fall writing workshop (Cans n Drafts) and two theatrical shows slated for the spring.

CBSBaltimore: How has EMP Collective partnered with other local organizations to promote art and artists and revitalize the area?

Carly Bales: Around the corner from the Hippodrome, right off of the Baltimore St/UMD Light Rail stop, EMP hopes to be part of the revitalization of a neighborhood just blocks away from the Inner Harbor and Mount Vernon. We’re hoping to partner with other local galleries for events such as Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, Hippodrome and In/Flux (upstairs from our space and a grantee of Operation: Storefront), as well as the H & H Bldg and Current Gallery to encourage further foot traffic in the area and light up the neighborhood with art.

empcollective3 Spotlight On: EMP Collective

(credit: Carly Bales)

CBSBaltimore: What do you think of the art scene in Baltimore? Is it growing? Do you think the city or other art organizations need to do more to foster and encourage art in the communities?

Carly Bales: I feel like Baltimore has a wonderful, robust and thriving arts community that allows for a great deal of experimentation which is not always something you get in other communities (for example, D.C., where I live). I love what DPOB has done with Operation: Storefront in giving small organizations the tools to get started in what they’re passionate about while also lighting up the plentiful amount of unused spaces in the area.

CBSBaltimore: Do you have any future productions in the works?

Carly Bales: We’re working on a devised theatre piece centered around irrational fears and that which keeps you up at night called Night Sweats and a novel-to-stage adaptation slated for next year. We’re always schemin’ and plotting on new projects. Constantly working and creating. It’s kinda our thing.

EMP Collective is hosting A Girl Called Esther, a new play that mixes traditional narrative with explorations in movement and music, on December 9-11. Click here for tickets. Visit EMP Collective’s website for more information on shows and events.

EMP Collective
306 W. Redwood St
Baltimore, Md.


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