Thursday, June 15, 2006

MARIE JOHNS ANSWERS District of Columbia Public Officials Arts Questionnaire 2006

As Mayor would you continue to provide and increase funding to the DC Arts Commission for local arts grants and arts education programs?

Marie Johns’ Answer: I have been a supporter of the arts and humanities for the majority of my life, have continually found ways to support the arts both in my personal and professional life and will continue to be an avid supporter. I support the Commission’s promotion of cultural enrichment for our City through grants and arts education; as Mayor I will sustain my position and I will continue my support of the arts community by providing increased funding. Additionally, under the Johns’ Administration I would like to have the DC Arts and Humanities Commission lead the effort, in partnership with all of the major arts and humanities institutions, to ensure that there is a quality mandatory arts and culture curriculum within all of our DC Public Schools.

Now knowing that there is a major economic return on investing in the arts in DC, what plans do you have to continue revitalizing neighborhoods and commercial districts with an infusion of the arts?

Marie Johns’ Answer: There is no doubt that our neighborhoods that invest in the arts are on the receiving end of an economic upside. As Mayor, I will work with local cultural groups and institutions that play key roles in using art to revitalize neighborhoods. I will also consider various ways of offering financial assistance to not-for-profit arts organizations that seek to invest their time and resources into imagining new ways of infusing the arts into commercial districts and neighborhoods. The DC Department of Parks and Recreation and the DC Commission of Arts will be linked to support my vision for more Art and Culture spaces and arts education exposure for children in our City. A Johns’ Administration will review best practice models, like the HIP Artist Housing Program, and identify ways to implement similar affordable and workforce housing strategies for DC artists.

As Mayor I will serve as a catalyst for encouraging more development of facilities, programs and systems which support the Arts across our City. I will bring the DC Arts funding community together to form a comprehensive strategy to develop a matching program that ensures the maximum amount of resources reach our neighborhoods.

What benefits do you believe the arts can bring to DC residents and neighborhoods?

Marie Johns’ Answer: Art is vitally important as a means of expression and its appreciation helps foster creativity, conversation and a sensitivity that can be applied to almost all facets of life. Arts revitalize neighborhoods, renew aspirations, inspire creativity, promote community awareness, and motivate and prompt community action. Additionally, access to art and cultural programs prove to be very instrumental in helping young people of all social and economic backgrounds climb to the pinnacle of their potential. As Mayor I will utilize every resource available to get more young people to channel their energy into creative arts and cultural programs. Engaging our young people in healthy productive programs will clearly have enormous economic and social benefits to our society. As Mayor I will tap one of the most creative resources of our City – the local arts and cultural organizations, for innovative ideas that can add value to our neighborhoods and at the same time reduce neighborhood blight that has come as result of abandoned buildings and underutilized public facilities.

What is your position on the DC Office of Planning’s efforts to include Arts and Culture as a separate component of the city’s overall Comprehensive Plan for the future?

Marie Johns’ Answer: I support the Arts and Culture element as a separate component of the City’s overall Comprehensive Plan. Arts and Culture are a driving economic and social force in creating a “livable community”- a centerpiece of the policy agenda I will seek to implement as Mayor of the District. As Mayor, I will continue to support and assist cultural facilities by making certain that funding is made readily available to those facilities in need. In order to make funding possible, I will target private and corporate giving so that DC can make an even greater public investment in our cultural facilities; finally, having arts and culture as a separate “element” within the plan allows community-based artists and arts and cultural organizations to implement a holistic approach to promoting and supporting arts and culture in every community in our great City.

What arts and cultural activities have you personally attended, participated in, and/or supported in the last year?

Marie Johns’ Answer: I am a very active supporter of the arts and humanities community of Washington, DC and I have served on the boards of the Helen Hayes Awards, Washington Performing Arts Society, and Cultural Tourism DC. I have been a long-time contributor to the Shakespeare Theatre, Arena Stage, Studio Theatre, The Choral Arts Society of Washington, and The African Continuum Theatre Company. Additionally, I am truly proud of the fact that I was instrumental in the development of the “Hopscotch Bridge” on H Street, NE. Finally, I often attend gallery shows and exhibits for local artist, and I am an avid collector of art by local artist Stevens Jay Carter, Eleanor Drabo, and Willie Leftwich.

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