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The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Reports Significant Progress in Efforts to Make Art Funding More Equitable

Friday, September 9, 2022

CONTACT

Jeffrey Scott (CAH), 202-341-9908, [email protected]

Press Office (Bayne); 202-594-9223; [email protected]

(WASHINGTON, DC) — The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH) incorporated a number of changes recommended by the CAH Task Force on Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and made progress towards its equitable funding goals.

In 2021, CAH successfully worked with the DC Council to legislatively establish an expanded general operating support grant program. CAH now allocates 54% of its annual grants budget to general operating support (GOS) grants. This measure allows for an increased pool of funding for these awards. To create a more equitable evaluation process, applicants are grouped and reviewed in cohorts with similar-sized budgets. These unrestricted grant funds enable CAH grantee partners to build capacity and organizational infrastructure. 

One year into the new grant funding formula and nearly two years after the findings of the taskforce, CAH’s efforts have yielded some positive results. In FY22, 22 new grantee partners received $2.81 million in funding via the GOS program. CAH also increased its grant awards to organizations and artists in Wards 4, 5, 7 & 8, where funding has historically been smaller and less equitably distributed, by $5.4 million, a 78% increase from FY21. CAH increased the grant allocation for organizations and artists in these wards by 7%. 

CAH saw an overall budget increase of $11.6 Million dollars in FY22 (an 27% increase) from its FY21 budget, including critically important relief funds to artists and institutions in the District facing financial instability from the COVID-19 pandemic. CAH awarded over $2.5 million to 340 organizations through the FY22 Relief and Recovery Fund (RRF) grant. Over $1.38 million of these funds went to artists and organizations in Wards 4, 5, 7 & 8

“The CAH has a clear mission: to equitably invest in the city's arts and cultural sector, drive innovation, and to bolster the entire ecosystem of the arts and humanities in the nation’s capital” said CAH Chairperson Reggie Van Lee. “With this historic investment and focus on strengthening the capacity of our grantee partners, CAH is doing our part to build a more sustainable arts community in the District. We have expanded our programming, welcomed new grantee partners, collaborated with other District agencies, and substantially increased our direct engagement to the community. Our important work has just begun, but we are pleased with our forward process.”

The Commission also made an impact in the community through partnerships. CAH partnered with the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) and DC Public Schools (DCPS) on the Color the Curb: School Safety Program to heighten the awareness of vehicular and pedestrian safety near schools. CAH also began a new partnership with the DC Public Library, allowing for the development of free cultural programming for District residents and visitors.

To learn more about the work of CAH and some of the agency’s recent success stories visit dcarts.dc.gov.

Additional Highlights Include:

  • CAH increased its funding support to the DC Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD) to $285,000 to support and expand the Art All Night festival, a celebration of local artists, businesses, and organizations, which attracts more than 120,000 attendees. The festival, held on September 23 and 24, highlights the District’s robust arts sector. 
  • 85 Grantee partners participated in the FY22 Mentor/Protégé Program, CAH’s annual summer capacity building program. This initiative supports both large and small organizations and creates an ecosystem where they can support and learn from each other. 

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