The State of Maryland will provide ongoing financial support to the nonprofit operator of the tall ship Pride of Baltimore II under legislation passed during the 2018 General Assembly session.
Support in the Senate was unanimous and an overwhelming number of delegates voted in favor for it in the House.
The legislation commits the State to provide $500,000 annually to Pride of Baltimore, Inc. for five years, beginning in fiscal year 2019.
Legislative leaders took decisive action after Pride of Baltimore made a public announcement earlier this year that it was facing severe financial challenges.
Pride’s initial appeal for support generated important new funding commitments, but the organization must continue to raise significant additional funding.
Pride of Baltimore, Inc. will continue to raise funds from the corporate community, grants, individuals, and other sources to bridge the gap in funding each year.
Pride of Baltimore Executive Director Rick Scott said the organization will use the next several months to secure additional sponsorships and develop a long-term financial sustainability plan.
Over the years, Pride of Baltimore has been able to generate less than half of its budget from operating revenues, such as appearance fees, souvenir sales, and day sails.
Other U.S. tall ships have also struggled to maintain the resources to fulfill their missions and maintain themselves. However, unlike many tall ships, Pride of Baltimore II has no outstanding debt.
The iconic schooner undergoes frequent maintenance, in hopes the ship will remain fit to sail for many more years.
Pride II was owned by the state of Maryland from 1988 to 2010, and now is both owned and operated by Pride of Baltimore, Inc., a nonprofit funded through corporate support, grants, individual gifts, and income from festival appearances and other sources.
The first Pride of Baltimore, a topsail schooner that recalled the Baltimore Clippers that helped the U.S. secure independence during the War of 1812, was commissioned in 1977 and sailed for nearly a decade before being lost at sea in 1986.
A successor vessel, Pride of Baltimore II, was launched in 1988 and has logged more than 250,000 miles and visited more than 200 ports in 40 countries. She has generated enormous goodwill and interest in the rich maritime history of Baltimore and Maryland.
In 2017, the organization celebrated the 40th anniversary of Pride in Baltimore, highlighted by Pride II’s popular appearances in three tall ships festivals and two open-ocean races. This year marks 30 years since Pride of Baltimore II was launched in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Pride II routinely attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and generates wide media coverage worth tens of millions of dollars in exposure for the ship, the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.
With renewed support from the State of Maryland over the past three years, Pride II was also used locally and in other ports to promote economic development in the state.
Pride of Baltimore has also created unique educational opportunities for Marylanders. While every visitor to Pride II learns about the dynamic designs of Chesapeake schooners and the pivotal role of Maryland privateers in the War of 1812, programs specifically tailored for students enhance the experience through hands-on learning.
Dockside programs featuring lessons in simple machines, navigation, and the life of a sailor have been offered since the 1990s.
Pride’s outreach programs also take place in classrooms, and educational programming has been presented on the vessel in conjunction with major events such as Light City Baltimore, Star-Spangled Sailabration in 2012, and Star-Spangled Spectacular in 2014.
source: Pride of Baltimore, Inc.