The Overlooked Anchors: Kresge Foundation Report

In the 2019 report, "The Overlooked Anchors: Advancing a New Standard of Practice for Art and Culture Organizations to Create Equitable Opportunity in America’s Cities," MICA was highlighted as one of four exemplar arts organizations applying a framework long used by traditional anchor institutions—such as hospitals and corporations—to strategically leverage their organizational operations for community development and strengthening.

Funded by the Kresge Foundation and published by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), the report highlights four “notable examples of large arts and culture organizations” that have adopted these anchor-based approaches, including MICA.

 “We chose to profile MICA because its deep understanding of the anchor framework and its nearly two-decade long anchor engagement stood out among the arts and culture organizations we reviewed. The prominence of MICA in anchor collaboratives is also notable because arts and culture organizations, even art colleges, typically do not lead such collaborations.”

Key elements of the ICIC’s Strategic Anchor Framework include:


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Noting that MICA pairs action around all seven anchor strategies with a socially engaged curriculum, the report cited numerous examples:

  •  Core Product or Service Provider: MICA’s partnership with the Baltimore Design School and launch of the Art and Design College Accelerator Program (ADCAP) to provide Baltimore students from diverse backgrounds and who face financial challenges with a pathway to an art and design college education.:
  • Real Estate and Community Developer: MICA’s capital investment strategy based on historic preservation and adaptive reuse principles to minimize neighborhood blight, preserve land values and increase amenities to revitalize the community, as seen in its repurposing of 34 formerly vacant buildings.
  • Purchaser: MICA adoption of local and minority-owned business procurement goals for its capital investment projects: 25 percent for minority-owned business and 15 percent for local businesses, and its ability to to exceed these goals in two recent construction projects.
  • Cluster Anchor: MICA’s support of local entrepreneurs through the Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network (BCAN), which includes an incubator residency for creative enterprises in Baltimore.