Arts Commission Offers Grants

Shantella Y. Sherman | 6/18/2009, 12:37 a.m.

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) offers several grants to the arts community of the District but, DCCAH Executive Director, Gloria Naudin, said many artists East of the River remain under-represented among applicants.

€It€s important for us to reach all artists in every art form throughout the city and all non-profit organizations, especially arts-based non-profits serving D.C. residents,€ Naudin said.

€We aim to solicit as many folks as possible to engage in our arts funding to grow the District€s vision for the arts to become a world-class cultural destination.€

Samuel Moye, 23, of Alexandria, Va., said that despite being aware of grants, his unwillingness to come off €stupid€ on forms kept him from applying for funds to paint. A self-taught painter, working in oils on canvass, Moye attempted the grant process on three separate occasions while living in the Shipley Terrace area of Southeast, only to give up. Moye considered the structure of applications confusing, grew frustrated and walked away from the funding.

€I complained a lot about the grant process in D.C. for artists because I couldn€t figure out the applications and I felt like there was too much writing required. How do you say what you have to say in a way that other people, who may not be from where you are from, hear you and understand you?€ Moye asked.

According to Naudin, being intimidated by the process is not uncommon, though DCCAH has established measures to make the applicants more comfortable with the process itself, as well as asking for the help they need.

€The first step an applicant should take is to review the Commission€s Guide to Grants found on our Web site to see all of the different opportunities offered for artists and start thinking about where their work fits best,€ Naudin said.

€We've been really focused this year on making the applications easier for artists to fill out. First off, we've altered the process so that they can apply online and only submit one hard copy of the application, rather than the 10 cumbersome copies that the Agency has required in the past. The applications have also been distilled into a question and answer format, with the objective of assisting applicants to address the key questions that panelists have when they review applications,€ Naudin said.

Naudin said that the Commission also offers specialized services to applicants, including having staff available to read draft applications and work one-on-one with artists through €Workshop Wednesdays,€ where staff members provide a thorough overview of all of the opportunities DCCAH offers. The service is available both in person and through Webinar.

Additionally, DCCAH has opened a new resource center located in their offices in Northwest, where computers, printers and scanners are available to applicants from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

€The most important thing for an artist to know is that they do not have to go through the process alone. We have many staff members who are dedicated to the grant-making that DCCAH does and they are always available to answer questions,€ Naudin said.

€It€s also important for applicants to know that the process is competitive and they need to bring their best art and best ideas to their applications.€

Though Moye now resides outside of the District, he is certain the new grant procedures and artist-friendly applications will help other artists take advantage of funding opportunities.

€The benefits will be overwhelming to artists who may feel the way I did when pulling my thoughts together for the applications,€ Moye said. €It is important that DCCAH made these changes because without them, many of the city€s young artists, would miss out.€