Chris Ford Headshot

Chris Ford recently retired as Director of the Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) after 40 years with the institution. BSA is a public, secondary arts school serving well over a thousand students, providing training in dance, music, theatre, visual arts and film. Tupac Shakur, Josh Charles and Jada Pinkett-Smith are just a few of the many thriving artists who called BSA home in their young lives.

During his time as Director, Ford oversaw the development of a comprehensive strategic plan which placed collaboration and synthesis of traditional art forms at the center of the life of the school. Some of this work was accomplished with the aid of cutting-edge technology and a new facility, the Center for Creative Arts & Technology. All students participated in a cross-disciplinary class in artistic collaboration designed to provide awareness of the working process of other disciplines and tools to support students in creating multi-disciplinary work.

The strategic plan focused on students as principal artistic creators. While the school continued to present collaborative masterworks such as Copland’s Appalachian Spring, student-created and produced work was supported, celebrated and produced. The newly initiated Charles C. Baum Film and Visual Storytelling department highlights the roles of collaboration, student-driven creativity and technology.

Ford also led significant efforts to ensure open access to the school for students from across Baltimore City. BSA provides free, early artistic training to about 700 second through eighth graders. This training is a critical entry point for many disadvantaged students. Additionally he developed community-based sites and free transportation for students from challenged neighborhoods.

All of these efforts were driven by the goal of providing equitable opportunities for students to develop creative careers in the world they will encounter. SNAAP data was invaluable in shaping the sense of what students need now and in their futures.

Prior to his time as Director of BSA, Chris Ford was a professional saxophonist, with a Fulbright Fellowship to France and a Carnegie Hall debut in his history. 

Ford is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, Bowling Green University of Ohio, the Conservatoire National de Bordeaux and the University of Maryland at College Park.