HistoryIsADrag Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS HISTORY IS A DRAG?
History Is a Drag was a benefit gala benefitting the grant programs of the Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA). The April 2017 event was a unique masquerade/drag show event that will celebrate Baltimore’s history, people, and places. Entertainment included performances from local and nationally known female illusionists, as well as live performances by Baltimore-based singers and actors.
HOW WILL THE PROCEEDS BE USED?
All proceeds from History Is a Drag will flow directly into BNHA’s Heritage Investment Grant program. Launched in 2015, the grant program provides modest yet strategic investments in historic attractions, small museums, and community organizations located within the heritage area. Initial funding from these grants comes from the Federal government, and consistent funding is increasing unlikely in the current political environment. Through fundraising, BNHA hopes to provide a stable base for the future vitality of the grant program.
In 2015, the heritage area awarded $200,000 to 25 local non-profit organizations. Roughly 30 percent of the awards were for operational support, and in some cases, the grant allowed small museums and historic sites to literally keep the lights on. The ultimate goal of all the grant awards is to foster heritage tourism that will in turn spur economic development and build sense of place and pride in our community.
WERE FEDERAL FUNDS USED TO SUPPORT THE EVENT?
No. The heritage area’s financial arrangement with the U.S. Department of the Interior forbids the use of federal funds for fundraising purposes. The event was supported through corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.
WHY “HISTORY IS A DRAG” AS A THEME FOR THE EVENT?
BNHA was looking for a fun way to dispel the notion that learning history is boring. By combining the entertainment of a drag show with living history re-enactors, History Is a Drag will shine a spotlight on the city’s history in a lighthearted fashion. The event also is a chance to reflect the city’s diversity, showcase Baltimore’s influence on counterculture in the 1970s, and pay homage to the “Drag Queen of the Century,” Baltimore-born Divine (Harris Glenn Millstead).
WHAT IS A HERITAGE AREA?
Heritage areas are regions where historic structures, landscapes, cultural traditions, and other resources (such as parks and museums) work together to tell patterns of history unique to the location.
The Baltimore National Heritage Area is one of 13 certified heritage areas in Maryland and one of 49 Congressionally designated national heritage areas across the country.
WHAT NEIGHBORHOODS ARE IN THE BALTIMORE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA?
The heritage area covers roughly 22 square miles and includes 117 Baltimore neighborhoods. The core of the heritage area includes the historic neighborhoods around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The heritage area extends west to include the Gwynns Falls and Leakin Park, and reaches north to include Druid Hill Park and the Cylburn Arboretum. The heritage area is not contiguous: Mount Auburn Cemetery is also included with the heritage area boundary.
WHAT DOES THE HERITAGE AREA DO?
BNHA’s mission is to promote, preserve, and enhance Baltimore’s cultural and historic legacy and natural resources for current and future generations. To accomplish our mission, the heritage area, working with our local, state, and federal partners —
- carry out projects and programs that recognize and protect heritage resources;
- develop recreational and educational opportunities;
- increase public awareness and appreciation of natural, historic, scenic, and cultural resources;
- protect and restore historic sites and buildings that reflect the heritage area’s themes; and
- support heritage tourism development through grantmaking and other strategies.
One of BNHA’s most publicly visible projects is its network of urban heritage trails, which includes Heritage Walk (Inner Harbor, Historic Jonestown, and Little Italy), Mount Vernon Cultural Walk, Historic Fell’s Point Trail, and the Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail.