Most artists and arts organizations face an ongoing challenge getting funding. As District lawmakers hash out next year’s budget and the city anticipates a new mayor, some advocates for the arts are weighing in. Some say the issue isn’t just funding, but where and how the money is spent. On Arts Advocacy Day, we explore the issues around supporting creative professions in the District.


  • Kriston Capps Senior Editor, Architect Magazine; contributing writer, Washington City Paper
  • Robert Bettmann Founder, Day Eight; Director, DC Advocates for the Arts
  • Lisa Gold Executive Director, Washington Project for the Arts

The Lobby Project

This winter, artists dove into the District’s business community for “The Lobby Project,” a Washington Project for the Arts initiative that aimed to bring more awareness to city’s art while fostering a place for community in creative spaces.

The project, funded by the DC Office of Planning, attempted to create a “third place” — a community space between work and home — for those who work or live in the Noma Business Improvement District.

“It ties in nicely to the idea that people — especially policy makers–are recognizing the power of art in transforming and shaping an environment,” said WPA Executive Director Lisa Gold.

Click through the photos to see some of the project’s most recent installations, displayed between November 2013 and February 2014.

All photos courtesy Washington Project for the Arts.


  • 13:23:20

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. Today is Arts Advocacy Day in the district. And so as lawmakers hash out next year's budget and the city anticipates a new mayor, advocates for the arts are weighing in. Like everywhere, local arts and artists and -- local artists and arts organizations face an ongoing challenge, how to survive and hopefully thrive in uncertain economic times. And while D.C. may be booming, that is not necessarily good news for the artists who live and work here.

  • 13:23:49

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIJoining us to discuss this is Robert Bettmann. He is board chair of the D.C. Advocates for the Arts and founder of Day Eight, a community arts organization. Robert, good to see you.

  • 13:23:59

    MR. ROBERT BETTMANNPleasure to be here.

  • 13:23:59

    NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is Lisa Gold, executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts. Lisa, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:24:06

    MS. LISA GOLDThank you for having me.

  • 13:24:07

    NNAMDIAnd Kriston Capps is senior editor for Architect Magazine and the contributing writer for the Washington City Paper. Kriston, glad you could join us.

  • 13:24:14

    MR. KRISTON CAPPSHey, thanks, Kojo.

  • 13:24:16

    NNAMDIYou too can join the conversation at 800-433-8850. How much government support do you think the arts should get, 800-433-8850? Robert, as I mentioned earlier, today is Arts Advocacy Day in the district. What is that all about?

  • 13:24:31

    BETTMANNWell, we can't take for granted public support for the arts. And between 2009 and 2012 arts funding for the district was cut almost 70 percent from over $14 million a year down to under $4 million a year. And so what we do with D.C. advocacy of the arts is similar to organizations, Maryland Citizens for the Arts and Virginians for the Arts. We try to, in conducting arts advocacy data, make sure that policymakers appreciate the importance of public funding for the arts.

  • 13:24:57

    BETTMANNAnd we've been successful the last couple of years in working with policymakers to increase what have been really terrible budget proposals from the mayor. And this year we actually have a great budget proposal. So we're down there today trying to ensure that the proposed budget will hold and that we'll have at least $16 million for the entire arts committee split for the next fiscal year.

  • 13:25:19

    NNAMDIYou say we because you obviously represent an organization that I should mention that you are the founding chair of this organization and personally had a lot to do with the increase that we have seen over the past few years.

  • 13:25:30

    BETTMANNI actually can't take credit for it.

  • 13:25:31

    NNAMDISo you won't say that...

  • 13:25:31

    BETTMANNNo, I really can't. Jack Evans is the one. I have to give a shout out to the strongest ally for the arts community that we have on the city council.

  • 13:25:39

    NNAMDIWe never give credit to Jack for anything.

  • 13:25:41

    BETTMANNReally? That's too bad.

  • 13:25:43

    NNAMDII know Jack Evans really has done a lot of the chairman of the finance committee on the D.C. council. Lisa, what kind of awareness is there among artists around advocating for funding?

  • 13:25:55

    GOLDI think artists recognize that there's a dearth of funding. I think artists don't really understand how to get funding. It's a serious problem. You know, there's a lack of studio space. There's a lack of exhibition space and a serious lack of funding. So we applaud Rob's efforts in generating more awareness for the arts in the city.

  • 13:26:16

    NNAMDIKriston, when we're talking about funding, a lot of arts organizations are now making the point that investing in the arts can make good economic sense. Can you talk about that?

  • 13:26:26

    CAPPSSure. Well, first of all, arts spending is extremely stimulative. Artists tend to spend the money directly on projects. Art organizations tend to spend the money directly on artists. In D.C. you have the strange effect where you have essentially several cities competing for one municipal pool. There's a greater Reston Center for the Arts. There's an Arlington Center for the Arts. There's arts organizations in Bethesda, Md. And then there's Washington, D.C. Many other cities, when you see that investment happen, it's directly into a municipal core. In the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area, the DMV, it's much more widespread.

  • 13:27:07

    NNAMDIRob, what do you say about arts making good economic sense, investment in the arts?

  • 13:27:11

    BETTMANNWell, we have a city of 600,000 with 15 to 20 million visitors a year. And so we know that the museum, memorial, tourist trade is tremendously valuable to the local economy. And that, you know, everything that the city has done to try and -- the mall is a no-tax zone. So in order for the visitors to really benefit the city we have to get them off the mall. And the investment that the city makes no only in ongoing project and program support but also in capital funding for Ford's Theater, for Arena Stage, for Shakespeare Theater is really critical.

  • 13:27:45

    BETTMANNOur hope is that not only will tourists get off the mall and see a play but that they'll also, you know, get into the visualized community and become supporters of the actual local arts community.

  • 13:27:59

    NNAMDISame question to you, Lisa Gold.

  • 13:28:01

    GOLDWell, I think that the arts play an important role in society and -- but also in terms of creating jobs, increasing real estate value, creating retail opportunities. As Kriston said, artists tend to put that money back into their projects. They better their communities and their surroundings. I think real estate developers are starting to get on the bandwagon and understand the importance of art in making community. Even the office of planning, they had their D.C. creative action agenda recognizing that the arts -- there are 75,000 jobs that revolve around the creative economy in Washington. So it's good for the economy. The arts give back.

  • 13:28:37

    NNAMDII'd like to ask the same question to the members of our listening audience. What kind of benefits do you think artists bring to a city like Washington, D.C.? Give us a call at 800-433-8850 or send us email to You can also send us a Tweet @kojoshow. What kind of benefits do you think artists bring to a city like D.C.? We're talking with Lisa Gold, executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts. Robert Bettmann is board chair of the D.C. Advocates for the Arts and founder of Day Eight, a community arts organization. And Kriston Capps is senior editor for Architect Magazine and the contributing writer for Washington City Paper.

  • 13:29:12

    NNAMDIToday is Arts Advocacy Day in the district. It seems that cities and developers may now be deliberately courting artists. I'm thinking of the arts district in Hyattsville, Md. and thinking of Anacostia in Southeast Washington. I'm thinking of Brookland in Northeast Washington where there's a new arts walk area. How does that approach work from the perspective of artists and arts organizations? First you, Lisa.

  • 13:29:38

    GOLDWell, I think it's incredibly valuable. We know real estate is kind of out of hand in Washington. It's very challenging for artists to afford space both to work and to exhibit. So I think these initiatives play a very, very important role in the creative community. You know, I think that there's a little bit of creative place making versus an organic community. And I think that needs to be addressed and balanced. But I certainly applaud efforts to be able to create spaces for artists to work.

  • 13:30:08


  • 13:30:09

    CAPPSYeah, I'm on the fence about it. I mean, if you talk to some directors of certain organizations, they feel like they have a use for developers and that is to come in and seed it with young hip people from northwest. And then once that work is done, then they can show themselves the door. I think that if now, you know, that D.C. is more economically mature than it was a decade ago, I think that developers and politicians in the city need to get real if they want to keep creative organizations in their communities.

  • 13:30:48

    BETTMANNIf I can...

  • 13:30:48

    NNAMDIPlease do, Rob.

  • 13:30:48

    BETTMANN...piggyback on that a little bit. Marion Barry was really effective in not just the Reeve Center but in placing government buildings and supporting arts facilities to help transition neighborhoods that were struggling to have that kind of stability. And, you know, I hope that will continue to see capital investment and not just government buildings and stadiums and facilities to have film production but also, you know, more theater spaces in 7 and 8 in particular.

  • 13:31:19

    NNAMDIHere is Roger in Bethesda, Md. Roger, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:31:24

    ROGERHi, Kojo. Roger Pilon here from Cato and I think you know where this question is going.

  • 13:31:30

    NNAMDIOh, yeah.

  • 13:31:31

    ROGEROkay. I want to ask your guests why it is they think that the arts should have any public funding at all. We all know that there's great controversy surrounding the arts. You all know the infamous example of Piss Christ, the Brooklyn Museum exhibit that had a Crucifix soaked in a jar of the artist's urine and created a great storm. And secondly, I would ask you why it is that you think there should be public funding at all in light of the fact that there would be art without it.

  • 13:32:16

    ROGERAre we to suppose, for example, that there was no art in America prior to the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts? Are you any different, in short, than any other special interest at the public trough when there are so many other arguably much worthier interests for public funding?

  • 13:32:37

    NNAMDIWe know the argument that was made by Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin last year arguing against funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. But I'll allow the panel to respond, first starting with Rob Bettmann.

  • 13:32:48

    BETTMANNThat reminds me of the argument about why we should get rid of the nonprofit tax deduction. And, you know, the basic argument that I have is that -- and others have, is that it's actually a really efficient way to get a lot of public goods very cheaply. And the government pays a small percentage of the overall cost. Nationally we expect arts funding to be 5 to 10 percent of the sustainable arts organization budget. And we get the question regularly in the city council of, you know, you're an arts organization with a $600,000 a year budget and we give you $40,000 a year. Are you trying to tell me that if we take that $40,000 away that, you know, your organization can't persist?

  • 13:33:24

    BETTMANNThe reality is that when most arts organizations work in a given community, we get not only donations but also revenue, ticket sales. And so in order for arts to be provided to all citizens of the district, we need the support to work in communities that otherwise couldn't afford it. So it's an efficient way to reinforce education and development, all the community goods that the nonprofit tax deductions supports.

  • 13:33:49

    NNAMDILisa Gold.

  • 13:33:50

    GOLDI agree with you in terms of all the fiscal issues but I also feel that arts play an important role in building a stronger society. I think that it makes us -- the arts make us more empathetic. They help us look at the world in a new way. The arts support us when we're faced with challenging times. People look to poetry or art when they're at a service or memorial or something that's deeply emotional. The arts serve that need. The arts inspire us. They help us become more creative in problem solvers and innovators. So they play a very, very important role in the fabric of our society.

  • 13:34:25


  • 13:34:26

    CAPPSWell, I think we need to look for carefully at the examples that Roger provided. Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Robert Mapplethorpe's The Perfect Moment, these were two big controversial shows happening between '89 and '90. And both of those were manufactured crises. They were significant to Senator Jesse Helms' fundraising campaigns.

  • 13:34:46

    CAPPSIn fact, when the Corcoran Gallery of Art canceled Robert Mapplethorpe's show, anticipating a reaction from congress, it was Senator Jesse Helms who called the director then, Christina Orr-Cahall, and demanded to know why the show had been canceled. He wanted it there. He wanted it at the foot of the White House so that he could make a big fuss about it. These examples are almost 25 years old now. The public art is a public good. It is like building roads. It's like building the National Mall. It is a way of building consensus. It is our national treasury.

  • 13:35:28

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Roger. I'm afraid this is not at the center of the discussion that we are currently having but it's a debate that we have had on this broadcast before and that we'll probably be having again probably with your participation, Roger. So thank you very much for your call.

  • 13:35:42

    NNAMDIYou too can call us at 800-433-8850. Are you a working artist in the district? What kind of challenges do you face in finding funding, 800-433-8850. Rob, Lisa, what kinds of challenges are there for artists in surviving and thriving here in the district, starting with you, Lisa?

  • 13:36:03

    GOLDChallenges are myriad, I mean, starting with space. You know, real estate's very expensive. Artists don't always have, you know, the economic means to afford studio space. Most artists that I know work multiple jobs. They may be your scientist or your dentist or your accountant. They have to make ends meet with very little government or foundation support here. The D.C. commission has increased its individual funding for artists. So again, I support that.

  • 13:36:34

    GOLDBut again, you know, to Kriston's point, in the city there's one pool of funding. It's not like in New York where you have city, state, county and individual foundations here. You have the D.C. commission so it's a limited pool. And that's a challenge. Artists resort to asking their friends and their patrons through kick starter and indiegogo and individual campaigns such as that.

  • 13:36:58


  • 13:36:59

    BETTMANNCommission funding really is critical to individual artists in the district. One of the things that we know is that it's much easier to raise money for a building than it is for actual art creation. And if you want to raise money for art creation it's actually easier to raise money for art that already exists, to remount ballet balancing than it is to support the creation of new art or new music of any sort. And so the funding that the commission provides to artists to make new work is essential.

  • 13:37:29

    BETTMANNAnd as much as my organization has done two successful kick starter campaigns, and I'm grateful to all of our supporters, and what the commission does it really magnify and amplify private support for the -- additional foundation support for the arts.

  • 13:37:44

    NNAMDIBefore I go back to the phones, Kriston, you make the point that there are other economic concerns for most artists having to do with living and working space in this city. Can you talk about that?

  • 13:37:54

    CAPPSIt all comes back to the (word?) , Kojo, like it always does. You know, in this city there's such a limited supply of real estate of all kinds. The reason that rent is high, the reason that office space is expensive is because there is a direct cap. So despite a serious growth over the last few years and, you know, increasingly expensive real estate, you don't see affordable housing of the kind that artists need and require. There's no dearth of affordable studio space. And there's no spaces for organizations to set up shop either to create performance space or to create their own office spaces.

  • 13:38:35

    NNAMDIIf you were allowed to build up, all of that would change you think?

  • 13:38:38

    CAPPSWell, I think that what you would see is that you would see offices moving up into new towers. You would see condo owners selling their condos and moving into larger condos. You would create more space and you would also create different kinds of space throughout the city. When a developer needs to attract tenants, perhaps a developer might say, this parcel is going to be an important arts hub. Not just the same condo that's being built everywhere all over the city with the same real estate storefront -- or commercial storefront.

  • 13:39:15

    NNAMDISo you think our whole attitude toward height limits is way too conservative.

  • 13:39:20

    CAPPSYes, I do.

  • 13:39:21

    NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Here is Mark in Annapolis, Md. Mark, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:39:27

    MARKThank you very much. And I'm very much enjoying this conversation, although I probably won't endear myself to your guests. And before I proceed I will preface my statements by stating that my son is, in fact, an artist as well. And I'm extremely cognizant of the struggle that he goes through on a regular basis.

  • 13:39:51

    MARKAnd my point is really going towards the support of the arts and the economics of it and public versus private support. There's the argument of, you know, specific with regards to the city of D.C., you know, the guns and butter economic argument.

  • 13:40:12

    MARKYou know, we have things which are desirable and things which are necessary. And sometimes difficult choices need to be made. And while I can appreciate the, you know, staggering difference at $10 million in a budget, you know, as made, you know, to artists organizations, I don't truly believe that probably as much emphasis and as much emphasis should go towards public support of the arts, as much as private support of the arts.

  • 13:40:45

    MARKIn, as, going to the fact that…

  • 13:40:50

    NNAMDIWe have more urgent needs?

  • 13:40:54

    MARKThere's an economic impact that is measurable, as an example, by the reduction in taxes. John Kennedy saw this, Regan saw this, reduction in taxes equals an increase in economic activity, equals the creation of wealth. There's an absolute one to one correlation with that. I don't see an absolute one to one correlation between an increase in taxes and the corresponding increase in economic activity as a result of artistic activity. So my…

  • 13:41:28

    NNAMDII'm not going to address your initial point about the decrease in taxes invariably leading to economic stimulation. That's a debate that we continue to have. But you seem to be suggesting that in order to provide funding for the arts it is always necessary to increase taxes. Is that what you're saying?

  • 13:41:45

    MARKYes, that is correct. Or if there is a choice to be made, the guns and butter, you know, do we fix the roads, which can, you know, help stimulate or keep from depressing an economic base. We have a choice of…

  • 13:41:58

    NNAMDIIs that the choice which we're in fact facing, Rob Bettman?

  • 13:42:02

    BETTMANNYou know this is an argument that we hear all the time. And, you know, the same argument is made around education, where, you know, is it essential that we have arts education in the D.C. Public Schools? You know, we have reading and math test scores, which are not as good as they should be. And, you know, do we actually need the arts in schools? We know that from a political point of view that arts support breaks down along color lines. And what I mean by that is between red and blue.

  • 13:42:29

    BETTMANNThat in states where you're trying to make a -- in Republican states, in red states, we have to make a strong case for why should there be any public support for the arts, including in the schools. And Democrats were just discussing whether or not, you know, what the level of support will be.

  • 13:42:45

    BETTMANNBut the essential role of the arts in the economies, as part of something that government should support in the schools and out of schools I think is -- it's hard to handle simply, but I will say that arts funding is less than one half of .1 percent of the overall D.C. budget. And that the arts community brings back many times more in tax revenue what we are given in arts funding.

  • 13:43:11

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back we'll continue this conversation on arts advocacy in the District. This is Arts Advocacy Day. You can call us at 800-433-8850. Do you take advantage of the smaller arts events here in the city, including local galleries and performances? Tell us why or why not. 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:45:20

    NNAMDIOh, welcome back. We're continuing our discussion on Arts Advocacy Day in the District of Columbia. What you were hearing was the off-the-air part of our discussion that we were having with Robert Bettman, board chair of the D.C. Advocates for the Arts and founder of Day 8, a community arts organization. Lisa Gold is the executive director of the Washington Project for the arts. And Kriston Capps is senior editor for Architect Magazine and a contributing writer for Washington City Paper.

  • 13:45:45

    NNAMDIYou know, D.C. is unusual, in that it's the capital and packed with big well-known art and cultural institutions. How do smaller arts organizations and individual artists navigate a city defined in so many ways by those larger organizations, Lisa Gold?

  • 13:46:01

    GOLDIt's a problem. And that's one of the roles that my organization in Washington, Project for the Arts plays. We try to connect local artists with some of the larger institutions. We bring in their curators to look at the work of our artists and engage them in programs. It's definitely a challenge. People, when they come to Washington they don't necessarily think of the local arts ecosystem.

  • 13:46:24

    GOLDThey think of the Smithsonian and the larger institutions. So I think, you know, we had talked earlier about with the loss of the Corcoran, that's a vital, vital, you know, gap for local artists. They played a critical role in the community, bringing -- connecting local artists to the visitors on or just off the Mall.

  • 13:46:41

    NNAMDIYou know, as was pointed out earlier, we are the capital and we don't have what New York has, which is city funds, state funds, county funding, but we are also a city. And so you have this state function competing with this city function. How does that influence how artists here are able to raise money and how people who are involved in the arts here are able to raise money?

  • 13:47:06

    BETTMANNWell, I think few organizations have started in recent years to try to really get a handle on this. I would say in addition to Lisa's operation, Washington Project for the Arts, Transformer definitely deserves credit for the work they've done. Putting on shows with various organizations from around the world, the Mexican Cultural Institute doing a sort of artist swap with Beijing. They put on one of my favorite shows in recent memory, which was a collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian, on indigenous Hawaiian artists.

  • 13:47:44

    BETTMANNTransformer brings a lot of creativity to the table, local artists and local curatorial talent. And the National Museum of the American Indian has resources to support that vision.

  • 13:47:57

    NNAMDIWe've got to go back to the phones because there are a lot of people waiting, but before we go, Lisa, I need you to tell us a little bit more about what your organization does for working artists. However, hold that thought for a while, and let's listen to what Preston, in Tacoma Park, Md. has to say. Preston, your turn.

  • 13:48:12

    PRESTONHi. Yeah, thank you for taking my call, Kojo. I really appreciate it. I'm the director of a local organization, non-profit organization, called the New England Symphonic Ensemble. I know it's a bit of misnomer for these parts, but it had its starts up in Boston area, has since relocated down to Maryland. One of the things that we've discovered -- we're a relatively new re-charter organization. And we've found that there are lots of funding opportunities and resources available to us.

  • 13:48:47

    PRESTONBut what we're finding is that as a new and small organization aligning our purposes and our structures to meet all the criteria that are required in order to get funding, that's a real challenge. And also just, you know, just finding out how to go about approaching these resources to show that we are a worthy cause in which to, you know, sink some funds. That seems to be the biggest challenge for us in this area. We're chartered in Maryland, not in D.C., but there are very similar sorts of organizations, you know, for funding to help organizations out.

  • 13:49:32

    NNAMDILisa Gold, can you speak to the kind of challenges that Robert (sic) is facing in Tacoma Park?

  • 13:49:38

    GOLDI think that the arts -- the communities are somewhat isolated. I shouldn't say that they're isolated, but I think that, you know, to the point of having different communities and different areas and not having this overall kind of infrastructure or a communication system.

  • 13:49:57

    NNAMDIThere's no overall system that he can just kind of plug into…

  • 13:49:59

    GOLDYeah, yeah.

  • 13:50:00

    NNAMDI…to get that kind of assistance…

  • 13:50:01


  • 13:50:01

    NNAMDI…that they need. Yeah, a lot of that stuff is administrative and this is the center of paperwork on the entire planet, my friend. But, Preston, thank you very much for your call. Try to keep on doing what you're doing. We move on to Diane, in Washington, D.C. Diane, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:50:17

    DIANEThank you, Kojo, for taking my call. I'm from an arts family. And Pedro Pablo Silva, who was part of my family, worked for many years all over the world, including in New York City and Washington, D.C., and created public artwork, funded also by city arts. And you may be familiar with the bench around Grant's tomb in New York City and numerous playgrounds created by him with children in various areas of the cities.

  • 13:50:48

    DIANEThese were tremendously excellent for the people there. There was thousands of people that were involved in creating art works with him. He created a way of involving visitors and neighbors with creating these magnificent artworks, the mosaic bench around Grant's Tomb with different scenes, of writers, artists, summer in the city, patterned after the Gaudi organic forms, sculptures. And downtown in the lower East Side, he'd go there with little kids on crack -- two year olds on drugs. And by the end of the summer they were off of the drugs, they had created with him, their own playground.

  • 13:51:32

    NNAMDIWell, while I find it difficult to believe that there were a whole lot of two-year-olds on crack in New York, I do understand the point that you're making and that is that he was creating art for the people during very difficult times. Lisa, I asked you to talk a little bit more about your organization and what you do for working artists.

  • 13:51:50

    GOLDWell, we have a two-fold organization. We're an exhibiting/presenting organization, as well as an artist service organization. So that takes three forms. We help artists promote their work, connect with collectors, curators, people that can commission their work. We provide professional development services for artists, both in terms of information, helping them build their practice, but giving them business skills.

  • 13:52:13

    GOLDWe have free workshops that we offer them on how to manage their estates or how to price their artwork or what type of insurance they need. And we also offer community and networking opportunities and the connection that artists' needs. Oftentimes artists are isolated, working individually in their studios and we bring them together and offer that kind of support.

  • 13:52:35

    NNAMDIRob, you mentioned earlier that D.C.'s funding for the arts has actually increased in recent years. How are funds allocated here?

  • 13:52:44

    BETTMANNWell, the majority of the D.C. Arts Agency's funds go out in competitive grants each year. And those granting panels -- those grants are due in May for all of us who apply for grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. And then the granting panels will meet and money will be awarded through these granting panels. Last year there were 12 different granting panels. And the way that the city allocates money into granting panels really defines the opportunities that exists for artists.

  • 13:53:14

    BETTMANNSo if you were to have a granting panel, for instance, that was to fund new play development, then you would be supporting new play development in the district. And most of the panels aren't that focused. They're more general, serving all artists in D.C., but there are, you know, there are a number of opportunities for independent artists, small arts organizations, mid-sized arts organizations. And I'm happy to get really into the weeds on the arts policy stuff because I love it, but I'm guessing I'd lose most of your listeners.

  • 13:53:43

    NNAMDIWe got an email from Donna, who says, "How to keep artists in D.C.? You keep them by supporting them. You go to their openings, you buy their work. There's lots of office space that is in need of good art. I'm a member of the Foundry Gallery, which is the oldest co-op in D.C. We've had to move around over the years just to pay the rent.

  • 13:53:58

    NNAMDI"There are many co-op galleries here in D.C., but unfortunately, the Washington Post does not highlight many of these. The national museums get most of the hype. We feel gratified if we are just listed." And what would you say to Donna, Kriston Capps? Read City Paper.

  • 13:54:15

    CAPPSThat's right. That's right, Kojo. Read the Washington City Paper. There's a ton of art organizations in D.C. There are a few high-profile galleries that have recently kind of resorted over the last few years. But it's enough for a writer to just try to keep track of. You know, as far as supporting these artists go, I think, yes, that buying artwork is definitely an important way to support them.

  • 13:54:50

    CAPPSTo kind of double back to a question about why and whether we want to publicly support artworks, I think you just need to ask people what they want. And you know, you will often find that people do want the symphony, they want after school programs. They want to see art in museums. These are things that people ask for and want. So why we fund them is because people want them.

  • 13:55:14

    NNAMDIIndeed, a study by Southern Methodist University indicated that when there is funding for the arts, like NEA, there are a lot more attendances at free concerts and the like. But I'll leave the answer to that question in the hands of Tamara, in Alexandria, Va. Tamara, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:55:31

    TAMARAThank you for taking my call. I think that funding for the arts is essential because it's the only way that children in poor communities and people in poor communities can have an opportunity to be exposed to the arts, to experience the arts. I mean, I can afford to go to the theater on Broadway in New York and buy a ticket or to the opera here and to the theater here. But a lot people can't do that.

  • 13:56:00

    TAMARAAnd if it's not in their community and they don't experience it when they're young, if their artists aren't able to get access to grants and all of the benefits of some public funding, then we are really doing a disservice as a society.

  • 13:56:19

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call.

  • 13:56:21


  • 13:56:23

    NNAMDIRob, there are specific public programs that have worked well in directly supporting local artists. Can you talk about the Art Bank program?

  • 13:56:29

    BETTMANNAbsolutely. It's a wonderful program. And I actually -- I think it's a real model for city support for particular types of art, making the Art Bank program provides a little over $1 million a year for the District government to purchase at market prices, visual art from local artists. That art is then displayed in the offices of government buildings, including the City Council building.

  • 13:56:52

    BETTMANNOne of our pushes this year, with D.C. Advocates for the Arts, is asking them to put a little bit of extra money into re-frame some of those -- some of that artwork that they already own. And put it in D.C. Public Schools. There's no reason why local artists work shouldn't be hanging in local schools. And we understand that the frames would have to be made more robust than they have to be hanging in the halls of the Wilson Building. But we think that they could do that. And Art Bank is a wonderful program.

  • 13:57:20

    NNAMDIJeff, in Washington, D.C. Jeff, you only have about 30 seconds left, but I think what you have to say is important, so go ahead.

  • 13:57:26

    JEFFOh, hey, thanks for taking my call, Kojo. I just want to speak to the benefit of projects such as Lisa's Project for the Arts. I'm an artist and…

  • 13:57:33

    NNAMDIYou only got about 30 seconds.

  • 13:57:34

    JEFF…and I'm a direct benefit. I started out taking their courses and going to their shows and now I'm showing five major projects…

  • 13:57:43

    NNAMDIHow about the Georgetown Art Walk, happening this weekend?

  • 13:57:46

    JEFFYes. Yes. I'm showing five major works at the Georgetown Art Walk this weekend. It's Friday, 6:00 to 8:00, as a part of six galleries and my gallery is Neptune Gallery and the jobs and the restaurants, everybody's participating.

  • 13:57:58

    NNAMDIThere you go. I wanted you to get that announcement out. We're just about out of time. Kriston Capps is senior editor for Architect Magazine, and a contributing writer for The Washington City Paper. Kriston, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:10

    CAPPSThanks, Kojo.

  • 13:58:11

    NNAMDILisa Gold is the executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts. Lisa, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:14

    GOLDThank you.

  • 13:58:14

    NNAMDIRobert Bettman is board chair of the D.C. Advocates for the Arts and founder of Day 8, a community arts organization. Robert…

  • 13:58:19

    BETTMANNThanks so much for having me here.

  • 13:58:20

    NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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