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Metro Brief: DC arts organizations, efforts receive million dollar funding from District

On December 5, 2011

  • Critical Exposure. which focuses on youth and photography, is one of several DC art organization to receive an award. Jaime Windon/Critical Exposure

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) announced the 227 grants awarded to local artists and nonprofit arts organizations for fiscal year 2012. The awards total $3.7 million, stretching across all eight wards of the District.

 The awards reflect eight of the nine grant programs DCCAH administers - Grants-In-Aid, Festivals and City Arts Projects, Arts Education Program, East of the River, Individual Artist Grant, Community Arts, UPSTART and Cultural Facilities Projects. The ninth program, Public Art Building Communities, which is available to individuals and organizations to create and install permanent or temporary public artwork that enhances District neighborhoods, has a rolling deadline and is not reflected in the $3.7 million total.

 "We're excited about the synergy that the arts have created in our communities despite economic challenges," said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director of the DCAH. "We feel it's important to provide essential funding that benefits the city's growing arts community and to also showcase the wealth of talent and cultural energy reflected in this year's recipients."

 In September 2011, the DCCAH received 522 eligible applications requesting over $15 million in funding. The resulting funding rate of 43 percent of eligible applications reflects both the significant demand for support while reflecting the ongoing vitality of the nonprofit arts community in the face of current financial challenges.

 Despite economic woes, the DCCAH was able to fund a broad spectrum of exciting projects. These projects will contribute to the District's art community that provides an economic impact of over $746 million to the city. Examples of projects funded are:

  • $5,000: KIPP DC is an organization that has the best interest of children and families at the heart of its mission. KIPP will receive funds to support the purchase of barres, mirrors and a dance floor for KIPP DC Community Arts Center located at 4837 Benning Road, SE where CityDance Ensemble will offer dance instruction to KIPP DC students and the broader Ward 7 community.
  • $7,000, Critical Exposure: Two photographers with backgrounds in education policy, teaching, and community organizing founded Critical Exposure in 2004. Critical Exposure's mission is to teach youth to use the power of photography and their own voices to advocate for the opportunities and resources they need to succeed. Through partnerships with schools and youth-serving organizations, they empower youth to participate in the democratic process using an innovative and compelling approach that combines art and advocacy to facilitate youth empowerment, public engagement, and policy change.
  • $5,000, Henry VI Readings: By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Shakespeare Theatre Company's (STC) artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present classic theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights' language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.
  • $12,500, Words Beats Life: The Words Beats Life teach-in is a space for the development, presentation and preservation of a new level of emerging, but high quality, hip-hop arts (music, visual art, dance etc.), and scholarship. The events used to reach non-traditional arts audiences include: Bumrush the Boards: Hip-Hop Chess Tournament, now going into its sixth year.

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