ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA Art organizations around D.C. are mobilizing to support art in the District, such as that at Artist's Proof.
Art organizations around D.C. are mobilizing to support art in the District, such as that at Artist’s Proof.

ArtsAction D.C., a new coalition pioneered by D.C. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), aims to promote the growth, funding and support of arts in the District and provide a forum for collaboration among art-focused institutions.

Grosso started the AADC coalition because he saw a need for more stable arts funding in the city.

“I saw it as a way to bring people together to have a blunt conversation about what they needed, but also to be a group that would come up with solutions that could be implemented,” he wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Development of the project began in spring 2014 and has since brought together 50 already existing organizations into the coalition, including Dupont Underground, the Humanities Council of Washington, the Shakespeare Theater and Washington Performing Arts.

The coalition of the various organizations aims to establish a “comprehensive, intelligent and progressive strategy” to advocate for funding and integrate support for the arts into the District’s economic development strategy, according to its mission statement.

AADC Research Committee Chair Sam Sweet noted the inclusiveness of the diverse organizations as the coalition’s major asset.

“We are inclusive, creative, proactive, generous and unified in working together to advance the common goal of critical support for the arts and the creative economy,” he wrote.

The coalition includes both smaller start-ups and more established institutions. Washington Performing Arts President and CEO Jenny Bilfield credited the organization with voicing the variety of opinions and noted that the large number of included parties allow the coalition to have a real influence on the city.

“Although we vary in scale, our collective impact is significant. Not only upon the artists and audiences who live here, but also upon the businesses that derive revenue from the work we do,” she wrote. “ArtsAction D.C. gives voice to the collective value and impact of the arts.” “The concerted effort of so many organizations — 50 and counting— around the recent election gives us a voice at the table … as a voting group, as a tax base and as a major economic driver within D.C.”

Dupont Underground, one of the organizations involved, was created with the goal of revitalizing the abandoned trolley station under Dupont Circle for producing and presenting arts and creative endeavors. Dupont Underground Managing Director Braulio Agnese explained his organization’s involvement in the coalition as inevitable.

“The Dupont Underground was created to foster arts and design, so our support for AADC was a no-brainer,” he wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Commitment to the belief that the arts and culture should be a greater priority for the D.C. government.”

Although AADC is a new initiative, Agnese expected it to gain a strong following and really impact the arts, crediting Grosso for his vision in leading the organization.

“Councilmember Grosso has a clear passion for the issue, so I expect that as long as he’s in office, the AADC will be around,” Agnese wrote. “Hopefully the coalition will get to a point where it can maintain itself beyond Grosso’s time on the D.C. Council.”

As AADC is such a new program, the specific effect that it will have on the Georgetown community is unclear. However, Grosso was eager to include the input of universities in his effort to promote art in the District.

“We are hoping that the city will develop a cultural plan that reflects what each neighborhood wants, [and] I think that Georgetown and its students will have input in that study because they often stay to live and work in DC even after they have graduated,” Grosso wrote. “The consortium of universities in the District is a great resource for studying our city’s economics and creative economy.”

Grosso added that he hopes the creation of the AADC will spark a stronger advocacy for the arts in the city with a focus on the concrete economic contributions made by art to the District.

“I hope it stands out rather than fits in,” he wrote. “My hope is this group is thinking differently about how we can approach supporting the creative community and economy so we are no longer just talking about making it better, but instead offering concrete solutions.”

Introduction to Drawing student Place Wilson (COL ’18) was excited for the creation of the AADC and its advocacy of art.

“Art is important in our society because it is a forum for expressionism that sometimes is stifled in other areas of academia,” she said.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *