The District’s first-ever Cultural Plan lays out a vision that includes 28 policy and eight investment recommendations on how the government and its partners can build upon, strengthen and invest in the creators, spaces and consumers that support and create culture within the city.
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan sets aside $8 million to help grow D.C.’s art scene by investing in infrastructure, financial aid for artists, and programming.
Led by the Office of Planning in partnership with the Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment, the plan’s recommendations are designed to promote shared stewardship of culture, organizational innovation, and leveraged funding to sustain the city’s cultural core and create new opportunities for historically under-represented creators and communities, Bowser said.
It also incorporates insight and feedback from more than 1,500 residents and cultural stakeholders.
“The DC Cultural Plan promotes an equitable, world-class cultural environment in the District that advances cultural diversity by increasing access to cultural creation and experience for all residents,” the mayor said.
Other highlights include:
• The District’s Cultural Economy supports $30 billion in annual spending, generates $1.1 billion in tax revenue and employs 150,000 workers.
• The District embraces its rich and unique cultural history by affirming the importance its heritage and residents’ culture.
• The Cultural Plan supports cultural creators through increased access to aligned educational and technical assistance resources, increased access to affordable housing and increased access to affordable production space.
• The Cultural Plan will help expand and preserve cultural spaces as platforms for expression by making them more accessible.
• The Cultural Plan will advance cultural diversity by increasing access to, and awareness of, cultural opportunities among cultural consumers, who include all District residents and visitors.
• The Plan’s recommendations for creators, spaces, and consumers converge and align to increase equity, diversity, and innovation in the District.
“People don’t look at D.C. as a like, a center point for creativity,” photographer Adedayo Kosoko, told USA as he pointed to the lack of dedicated creative spaces as a major challenge for local artists.
Also, a number of people “are leaving from D.C. to go to Baltimore, where the rents are much cheaper,” said artist Stephen Benedicto.
“Sustainable, low rents for artists would change the entire art scene here,” Benedicto said.
Council member David Grosso said he was excited to finally see the release of the city’s very first Cultural Plan.
“The plan provides an assessment of the current state of our city’s creative sector, identifies gaps, and proposes recommendations to more fully embrace the arts and humanities and acknowledge their vital role as a major economic driver through greater financial, policy and community supports,” Grosso said.
“This is such an important moment for the creative community, our residents and visitors to the District of Columbia, all of whom benefit when we promote and support cultural development in D.C.,” he said.
Grosso added that when he directed the investment in the fiscal 2016 budget to make the plan a reality, it was his hope that it would enable the city to identify the current level of service for cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach; establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts, humanities and culture; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide.
“I appreciate the work of the Office of Planning, the Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and most importantly, the engagement of D.C.’s creative community, especially ArtsAction DC, in the development of this plan,” Grosso said. “A plan, however, is nothing without action and proper investment. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to support the growth and development of our creative sector and deepen its immense contributions to the District’s economy and rich cultural fabric.”
To view the full plan, go to www.dcculturalplan.org.