Thursday, June 15, 2006

ADRIAN FENTY ANSWERS District of Columbia Public Officials Arts Questionnaire 2006

Answers from the Mayoral candidates and Council candidates about their support for the arts.

Thank you for participating in the public officials arts questionnaire. The following questions are intended to gain personal views and/or platforms of elected officials and current candidates for public office in the District of Columbia on arts-related issues. Responses will be published without comment to the general public.


1. As Mayor I look forward to continuing to fund the DC Arts Commission to enable them to provide local arts grants and arts education programs. I believe that the greatness of a people is eventually judged by what they contribute to the arts and culture of their times. DC must continue to build on the tremendous programs we now have here and ensure that our children understand the value of the arts in their lives. One idea with merit is to develop a Black Film Festival in the District of Columbia. There are only four currently in the world and there is no better place to hold one than in the District. I would look to work with our Universities including UDC and Howard, the Kennedy Center and other institutions as we build such a festival. The eventual benefit would be to let our citizens and guests from around the world share in the wealth of black film and through that we can develop a scholarship fund to help our children who are interested in film to attend colleges and universities with great film programs. I will also work to help to promote such programs as the jazz program that now exists at UDC to make more of our citizens aware of this great local treasure.

2. I have always known that there is a great economic impact that the arts community has on the District of Columbia. From our great cultural institutions like the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the Ballet and the National Orchestra and Opera, to our home grown theaters like Arena Stage, Source, Shakespeare and Studio, I will continue to support their growth and expansion. I will as Mayor promote such institutions and assist in developing new ones in each of our neighborhood. But as we do this we must develop new business/community/school partnerships to ensure that our children have viable art and music classes in their schools. We must ensure that schools like the Ellington School thrive and our DC Children’s Orchestra and school bands have the funds they need to grow and thrive. We have a diversity of cultures in many of our neighborhoods in the District and each of these cultures must be encouraged to share their own cultural history of music and art with the rest of the District. We also have the benefit of Embassy’s from around the world here in the District and I will encourage community and school partnerships with the cultural attaches of each Embassy.

3. I believe that the arts are a way to bridge the differences in cultures we see in the District. This diversity is what makes our city so great and we must use it to grow and build our communities. Thriving cultural institutions such as the newly revitalized Tivoli Theater, Lincoln Theater, and proposed revitalization of the old Howard Theater bring people into neighborhoods and increase traffic for all local businesses thereby helping to revitalize a neighborhood. They allow residents to participate together in both cultural and community building experiences. Even small projects like developing dioramas in our old fireboxes have brought neighbors together in their communities. I will also encourage the continued building of heritage trails in the District so that we may share our history with those who live here and those that come to visit.

4. I think that the efforts of the DC Office of Planning to include Arts and Culture as a separate component of the city’s overall Comprehensive Plan will help us to focus on the community and economic benefits of the arts. Every neighborhood and community should have a focus on the arts and by making this part of the comprehensive plan we will not forget an area too often overlooked. I am a proponent of never building a new government building without a budget for art such as we had for the Convention Center and I will encourage private developers to do the same.

5. I will continue to work with the arts organizations in our community to assist them as they move to expand and grow. However as I have often said I believe that any planning whether it be for housing, commercial real estate, or the arts must have community input before decisions are made. I will work with the Arts Commission and any arts organization to help them navigate through the process and assist them to make sure that community voices are heard in the planning stages of any project. I will be an advocate for the Arts as I am an advocate for including neighborhoods in planning for their own growth and revitalized economies.

6. ( This Adrian has to say—I hope he can say that he attended a play at the Shakespeare Theater- did he and Michelle takes the kids to a museum- in any event he should say he went to the City Museum and was fascinated by the map of the City- that he attended something at the Kennedy Center and spent time at a local library. He can also say one of the great cultural attractions in DC are the block parties that our neighborhoods throw from the big ones like the Adams Morgan Festival to the Pride Festival to small ones like some in ward 4..

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