Baltimore's The Bell Foundry art space has been shut down and the building has been condemned by the city following complaints of its conditions and subsequent safety violations. The move comes just days after the horrific fire at Oakland, DIY space The Ghost Ship. The Bell Foundry, which was designated in 2002 as an area specifically for artist work spaces, galleries and studios, also hosted shows. From The Baltimore Sun:
Housing and fire officials in Baltimore went to the Bell Foundry building in the 1500 block of North Calvert Street about 1 p.m. to investigate the complaint and found "numerous safety violations as well as deplorable conditions," said Roman Clark, a fire department spokesman.
Clark said the fire department issued a cease and desist order immediately barring tenants from using the building, and the housing department immediately began boarding up the building and posting signs noting that it had been condemned.
"Housing has actually boarded this place up and they are placing condemned signs all around it right now," he said Monday afternoon.
Baltimore FD spokesman Roman Clark told The Baltimore Sun that the complaints led them to shut down The Bell Foundry and not necessarily because of the fire at the Ghost Ship. Bell Foundry member James Healy told us that they were given no notice before shutting the building down. In an updated version of The Baltimore Sun article, the paper also talked to some of The Bell Foundry's artists:
"How quickly a safe space for queer [and] trans identities and other marginalized identities was devalued by the city is incredibly disturbing to me as a trans woman," Pipitone said. "This is a space that's autonomous for queer people. On a very flimsy argument, it was erased and devalued with no notice."
Multiple tenants described the city's handling of the situation as "aggressive" and lacking empathy.
"All they seemed to want to prove was that they had power and ability to be abusive," Koala Largess said. "They had no concern that a lot of folks have nowhere to take their stuff."
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help pay for relocation costs for The Bell Foundry's artists. You can donate below.