From mystery to history: Cultural arts exhibit on display in the Learning Commons

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A special part of the library is going on exhibit Feb. 15. Photographs, video clippings and newspaper articles from Baltimore’s Cultural Arts Program (CAP) will be on display in the Division of Legal and Ethical Studies on the third floor of the Learning Commons in Room 317, the CAS Faculty Lounge. There will be an opening reception with light refreshments from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

The CAP collection is normally housed in Langsdale Library’s Special Collections and is accessible to researchers and community members just by making an appointment. The collection is in the process of being digitized, as well.

The Baltimore community has a unique opportunity to see the special showing this month and meet CAP participant Angela Koukoui, who also helped organize the exhibit. Koukoui is in the Integrated Arts program at UB.

UB President Kurt Schmoke, will be at the opening as well.

Dr. Nicole Hudgins, associate professor in UB’s Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies, initially approached Koukoui about doing the exhibit and they have since been working on it together.

CAP started in 1968 with War on Poverty Funding and its Model Cities Program (MCP). By 1974, CAP was being run by the Urban Services Agency (USA) and continued until 1993.

Kokoui joined CAP’s dance program in 1986 and stayed until 1993 when she graduated from high school. CAP enabled Kokoui to apply for and attend Baltimore School for the Arts.

She now runs a non-profit dance program inspired by her time in CAP. CAP also offered piano, singing, visual arts and drama. Jada Pinkett Smith starred in a CAP production of West Side Story at the age of 14.

Everyone who participated in CAP hasbecomesuccessful,saysKoukoui. “We tried to find someone who did not succeed and we could not.” Emmy Award Winning ABC News Cameraman Pete O’Neal got his start in CAP.

Baltimore’s African American Festival (AFRAM) started through CAP, as well. Kokoui danced at AFRAM in 1976 as part of CAP’s Expanded Arts Program and was paid for her performance. Her children dance at AFRAM, currently.

Koukoui initially discovered the CAP collection at Langsdale Library as a community member. She had first checked the city archives and the Maryland Historical Society, but could find nothing. She only found two news clippings at the Pratt Library.

Finally, at an arts advocacy meeting, Kokoui got information. It was there she discovered that Urban Services Agency photographer Breck Chapman, who had covered CAP from its inception to its end, donated his entire collection of CAP photo- graphs to the Langsdale Library.

The CAP collection at Langsdale is called the Breck Chapman collection.

Come to the opening on Feb. 15 and see for yourself. You can also call to make an appointment.

Many of Langsdale Library’s Special Collections can be viewed online.

Langsdale Library is open:

Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.