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Introducing Dwayne Lawson-Brown

Friday, December 1, 2023

Hello there! My name is Dwayne Lawson-Brown, and I am the Community Engagement Specialist at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. While I am only in my second month at the agency, I have been involved and engaged with DCCAH for quite some time.

I’ve been the recipient of multiple grants including the Arts and Humanities Fellowship, and Performances, Events, and Festivals grant. I also served as a member of the Grant Application Assistance Program – a team of grantees devoted to helping applicants put their best foot forward by offering education, outreach, and first-hand advice. 

I am a person built by community. I was raised in Southeast, DC. Ward 8. East of the river. I benefitted from many community programs that instilled a need to show up the way others had shown up for me. In 1999, I joined Metro TeenAIDS as a member of the “New School Activist” – the organization’s peer education program designed to use poetry and hip-hop as a tool for social change.  

My growth as an artist is parallel with my growth in public health. I started “Floetic Fridays @ Freestyle” in 2003, a youth open mic that offered HIV testing and created space for intergenerational dialogue. Later, I would join Drew Anderson as co-host of Spit Dat DC – DC’s longest-running open mic, currently in its 22nd year. In 2008, I oversaw the creation of the “RealTalk Reps” – a reimagining of the “New School Activists” aiming sights at youth via social media.  In 2015, as Metro TeenAIDS merged with Whitman-Walker Health, I took the reins of the RealTalkDC social marketing campaign, curating large-scale arts experiences that offered HIV testing, counseling, and treatment options. 

When not speaking on panels and discussing viral loads, I could be found sharing poetry. I’ve published three collections; One Color Kaleidoscope (2019), Twenty:21 (2021), and Breaking the Blank, co-authored by Rebecca Bishophall (Day Eight Books, 2022). I am also a host at Busboy and Poets 450K, produce the Poets Reading Poetry Podcast, and can often be found belting out songs on random karaoke stages. 

In my role as Community Engagement Specialist, I need to be where the people are. Where are we creating art? Who are the organizations doing great work with shoestring budgets? Who are the brilliant minds helping shape the next generation of writers, photographers, and sculptors? Feel free to email me. I want to engage our community! 

It all comes back to community. My goal is for everyone to know the joy of our city and for creative minds to know and take advantage of the grant programs we have to offer. Let’s win together! 

[email protected]