BNHA Grant Project Spotlight: Charm City Night Market

Content about Grant Project Spotlight: Charm City Night Market

Photo credit: Joe Portugal.

On September 21, the Chinatown Collective will host the second annual Charm City Night Market. This free, family-friendly event transforms the streets around the 200 block of Park Ave into a vibrant event space celebrating the city’s Asian American community. Attendees will enjoy two stages—headlined by spoken word, hip-hop artist Ruby Ibarra—that will feature performances ranging from Polynesian dancing, Japanese taiko drumming, martial arts, and more.

This year, the Charm City Night Market will offer a VIP experience called the Joy Luck Club, which allows guests to purchase tickets for a more intimate and curated experience of the Asian culture including complimentary drinks, bites, and traditional activities.

Back in late 2018, lead organizer and Chinatown Collective founder Steph Hsu applied for BNHA’s newly launched Neighborhood Placemaking Grant (NPG) program to support the event’s continued growth. The Chinatown Collective was awarded $5,000 in NPG funding this past May. 

Here is what Hsu had to say about being a NPG recipient:

Why did you apply for the Neighborhood Placemaking Grant?
The Neighborhood Placemaking Grant’s focus on promoting historic neighborhoods and Baltimore’s heritage aligned perfectly with our commitment to sharing and celebrating the history of Baltimore’s Chinatown and Asian American community. For that reason, we decided that applying for NPG grant funding to help expand our second annual Charm City Night Market made sense.

How has or will the Baltimore community benefit from the Charm City Night Market?
The Charm City Night Market celebrates the cultural exchange of Asian Americans in Baltimore City—as well as the businesses and creatives of color across the city. It’s important for us to add to the fabric of Baltimore City without detracting from existing conversations. The Charm City Night Market helps accomplish this while giving Baltimore a good time!

How would you describe the Chinatown Collective's experience obtaining community buy-in and a fiscal sponsor during the NPG application process?
Strong City has been a huge supporter for us. In the beginning, we started having conversations within the Asian American community and came to the consensus that there were more of us that existed in the city but no one place where we could express our shared story. Since this was such a demonstrated need amongst the Asian American artist and creative community, it became an easy sell along the journey towards obtaining community buy-in for the grant process.

What execution stage is the project currently?
With the Charm City Night Market days away, we have already secured the artists, vendors, and venue for the event. This is our second year and the event has already grown two and a half times the size of the last year. Thanks to the funding from the Neighborhood Placemaking Grant we were able to expand our possibilities with signage, wayfinding, and lighting which will include lanterns designed by a local entrepreneur from La Loupe Design, who is a member of the Made in Baltimore network.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about Baltimore's Chinatown and pan-Asian community?
One thing I wish more people knew about Baltimore’s Asian American community is that we are a super diverse community, we really care about our city, and we want to see everyone do well here.

The FY20 grant cycle for BNHA’s Neighborhood Placemaking Grant program is now open through December 9, 2019. Spread the word! For more information about all our grant programs, visit our grants page.