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Supporting DC’s Arts, Artists, and Art Education

Arts enrich our lives in deep and meaningful ways that cannot be measured. The arts and artists are essential to the thoughtful, vibrant makeup of the District.

Artists provide vital services and invaluable resources to children, families, and individuals.

The arts provide essential space for synthesis, reflection, interrogation and community building at a time when our society places an undue focus on standardized testing and corporate achievement. Artists deserve our support because they help us realize our full humanity.

I understand that the way in which artists currently operate is not sustainable. I think the DC government has a critically important role to play in ensuring that artists can flourish and contribute to the quality of life for all of us.

This is why, if elected as a member of the DC Council, I am committed to supporting the arts, artists, and arts education. Art enriches our quality of life in the District, but is not supported sustainably through our economic structure. Public funds should support arts organizations and artists, particularly when that directly leads to arts in the community. In particular, the District must support artists of color, artists from otherwise marginalized communities, and smaller arts organizations, ensuring that historically and systemically marginalized communities receive funding to support and uplift the arts. Black artists have played an outsized role in shaping DC’s culture, but now, alongside other Black and brown residents with limited incomes, face the displacement pressures brought on by gentrification. 

With the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) already in place, the District is in a good position to increase support for artists, so long as certain guidelines are followed:

  • The DCCAH must remain independent regarding its grantmaking, rather than serving in an advisory role and leaving ultimate decision-making to the Mayor. I also believe DCCAH Commissioners should be appointed equally by the Mayor and the DC Council.
  • The Council must work with DCCAH to find ways to provide regular, ongoing support to independent artists, rather than the current structure with one operational funding opportunity per year that is capped at $10,000. 
  • The DCCAH must commit to continue awarding grants, rather than shifting to a loan structure for individuals and arts organizations. Artists need ongoing support and not loans that must be repaid.
  • The DCCAH must commit to supporting the arts without censorship and supporting the arts for their sake — rather than shaping grants with the goal of economic development.
  • The DCCAH must commit to transparency across all facets, including but not limited to: budget, grant structure, and award process.

Many artists work multiple jobs to sustain their artistic practice in order to make enough money to survive in the District. Those who identify as artists are stretched across countless fields; they are teachers, bartenders, consultants, web developers, government employees, fitness instructors, and more. Arts advocacy issues intersect with many of my core issues, including housing justice, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring all members of our community have access to health care. These issues directly affect artists as low-wage workers, and I am committed to advocating for these basic human rights, to which every citizen of the District should have access.

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