The arts scene in D.C. is nothing short of being creative and trendsetting yet there still appears to be a lack of collective industry. The Anacostia Arts Center created ‘Open House’ which is a way for the center to engage with the D.C. community, specifically in Southeast, to provide resources and opportunities to perform and showcase their skills and talents. The event is hosted monthly at the Anacostia Arts Center and is planned to take place every last Sunday of each month.
“That’s kind of the goal with this open house…It’s about creating an opportunity for the neighborhood to engage in the arts and in commerce in an approachable way,” said Randolph.
The event was filled with local vendors and provided space for local talent to showcase their skills with an ‘open mic’. Among them was DJ ART.IS, who was the DJ for the event who is passionate about uplifting art in all its forms and the journey in making it.
“We shouldn’t just celebrate art at its final form, as in to purchase. We should celebrate the development of artists. We should celebrate the nurturing of artists and this space has become that,” said DJ ART.IS
“He is so passionate about creating opportunities for people to perform and to get experience doing it, so our partnership with DJ ART.IS has been amazing because he’s creating an opportunity for performing artists to perform and getting their feet wet in the space,” said Jess Randolph, Associate Creative Director of Art Development at Anacostia Arts Center.
This open house is extending its hand by inviting local vendors and small businesses to display their own pop-up shop during the event. Fashion brands, paintings and sweet treats were some of the goods that were present at the event. Vendors have the opportunity to be part of the technical assistance program which provides the vendors technical assistance and business coaching. Made in DC also partners up with the Center to provide free technical assistance in the co-working space.
“We’re basically creating a pipeline with Black-owned business who are talented…and giving them the extra support, they need to scale up and thrive in a way that’s fun and approachable and laid back,” said Randolph.
“There are so many amazing [and] beautiful ideas that come out of the Black community but because we don’t have certain resources and support, there is no infrastructure… The key to success in business is to make sure that you have a community or support system of people who have resources and advice and experience for you.
Randolph says that the partnership between the Anacostia Arts Center and Made in DC is “satisfying a couple [of] different needs” for elevating Black businesses. Their approach to intersecting Black creativity and commerce is their way of pushing Black businesses to meet their potential.
Among tackling the everyday duties of being the Associate Creative Director, Randolph has learned how to navigate running a business through her work Her takeaway from her experience is she feels there must be a loving ecosystem within the community and a team of people who have your best interest at heart.
“I’ve been passionate about just creating ways to help entrepreneurs in this area to feel that… There’s so many different complex things that make a business profitable and successful and there are so many different ways to be successful now. I’m just really passionate about seeing what looks like for them,” said Randolph.