Last July, nearly $4 million from the D.C. government was allocated to the Anacostia Business Improvement District (BID) to develop the Anacostia Arts and Culture District. Recently, a discussion took place at THEARC in southeast D.C. about how those funds will be used and how the proposed arts entity will co-exist with gentrification. WAMU host Kojo Nnamdi moderated a panel of community, business and arts leaders to discuss these issues before a packed audience.
“Southeast, D.C. is a vibrant place for the arts, but the resources have not always matched the creative capital,” Nnamdi said in his opening statement for the event.
Panelists who participated were Kristina Noell, executive director of the Anacostia BID; Cora Masters Barry, community arts advocate and a commissioner on the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Jay Sun, a filmmaker, musician and member of the Valley Place Arts Collaborative; and Mēlani N. Douglass, conceptual artist and founder of the Family Arts Museum.
Noell admitted that $4 million is not enough money to fund the planned arts district.
“I’m going to have to raise a lot more money,” Noell said. “I have the partners in this community and outside the community who will help figure it out.”
Several audience members made statements about ensuring the district has resources that will allow artists to remain and survive in Anacostia.
“To be a working artist is a convoluted process,” said Mia DuVall, a lead artist and muralist in D.C. “At the end of the day, it’s about the arts, and artists make art. What is the purpose if you are not here to support the artist community?”
A recording of the discussion is available on the WAMU website, https://bit.ly/KojoInOurCommunity_AnacostiaArts.