Office of Planning, Government of the District of Columbia

Funding Received: 2011
Washington, DC
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
February 25, 2012

In a project led by Washington, DC’s respected Director of Planning Harriet Tregoning, the City will help revitalize emerging creative neighborhoods by transforming vacant or underused storefronts and empty lots into artist showcases and culture villages for periods of three to six months. These Arts & Culture Temporiums will demonstrate to cities everywhere how to use local artists and local assets to encourage vibrancy in unexpected places.

Historic Anacostia
Located near the banks of the Anacostia River in Washington, DC, Anacostia is an historic neighborhood whose proximity to the waterfront provides it with a strategic advantage and momentum for redevelopment. Ward 8, where Anacostia is located, has the highest unemployment rate for adults (more than 28%) and the highest youth unemployment rate (more than 60%) in DC. Ward 8 also has the city’s most substandard housing, the highest high school drop-out rate, the lowest number of retail stores per capita and the least commercial development. Thirty percent of the storefronts on Anacostia’s major streets are vacant. Anacostia’s commercial corridors have recently seen some new office development and investment.

Anacostia Arts and Culture Project
The Anacostia Arts & Culture Temporum is a temporary public art project and festival to promote creative arts in Historic Anacostia through the temporary illumination of vacant storefronts, lots, and public spaces along Historic Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King (MLK) Avenue, as well as gallery open houses and ‘showcases’ of select artist productions. Over a half mile of streets will be activated with dozens of site-specific installations of projection art, sculpture, interactive media, sound installation and performance. Parking lots and vacant sites along the corridors will feature mobile concert stages, temporary art installations, concessionaires and vendors. By attracting greater attention to the growing creative economy in Anacostia, the Arts and Culture Temporium hopes to encourage greater investment in DC’s creative economy and attract new artists and arts organizations to this community.

The arts festival will focus on community celebration, education, and awareness of Anacostia’s creative artists, groups, and history. It will feature performances by local music artists and a street festival featuring local craft and food vendors. The festival will include open houses at art galleries and studios in Anacostia, highlighting artists’ work in such areas as fashion and light sculptures.

Anacostia’s temporary public art projects will explore the word “illuminate” and its various definitions including expanding knowledge and awareness, or elevating and making something resplendent. The theme of illumination and light will be explored through several mediums of temporary art: 2 to 4 immersive installation art pieces will be installed in vacant storefronts. Video and image projections will illuminate building facades and shop fronts. A vacant lot will house a performance stage on a corner that will feature a major temporary sculpture or 3-dimensional art work. These temporary art pieces will remain in the community for several months, supporting a growing neighborhood arts scene and attracting new patrons to neighborhood businesses.

Key Project Partners include ARCH Development Corporation, which promotes the development of a unique arts and culture economy by renovating or building more than 800 homes across DC including artist housing units just for artists and developed three art galleries; ReSpin PR, an Anacostia based public relations company with experience promoting Anacostia though efforts such as the campaign "Eat Shop live Anacostia"; and Four Points LLC, a major property owner in Anacostia that will donate vacant storefronts and parking lots for the event.