Friday, July 21, 2017

JR's List - This weekend in DC

Hey there,

Just thought I'd provide a list of things that are on my Facebook radar, which either friends are involved with or I'm generally interested in, and happening in the District (and surrounding area) this weekend!

On/beginning Friday for the weekend:

Fire Festival, Peculiarity Productions at Old City Farm & Guild

"To celebrate our last weekend of the 8 Bit Circus S*it performance series at Old City Farm [see below] we will have several local vendors at Old City Farm. Come by to meet local artisans and get yourself some amazing products before enjoying the show! Enjoy goods from Eat 170 Catering, natural products, jewelry, clothing, and more! The festival is free."

Fri 7/21 @ 6:30 PM

The Kind of Thing That Would Happen, Agora Dance at Gallaudet's Elstad Auditorium, presented as part of Capital Fringe

In a post-truth world, what makes a good story? Does it matter whether it’s true? Monologue, dance and an original score weave a narrative exploring elusive memory, love and how truth and untruth affects how we perceive the world.

Fri 7/21 @ 5:45 PM

Exit Carolyn, Nu Sass at Caos on F, presented as part of Capital Fringe

After the loss of their mutual best friend, Lorna and Julie are forced to find a new roommate to fill the space Carolyn left behind. Amidst a tangle of forbidden love, a bizarre new friend, and a sea of grief, can Lorna and Julie's friendship survive?

Fri 7/21 @ 7 PM, Sat 7/22 @ 3 PM & 7 PM, Sun 7/23 @ 3 PM & 7 PM
On Facebook here:

Lady Day, at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a play with music by Lanie Robertson, takes place in South Philadelphia in March 1959. Billie Holiday is performing in a run-down bar, during one of her last performances four months before her death in July 1959. She sings, accompanied by Jimmy Powers on the piano, and tells stories about her life.

Fri 7/21 @ 8 PM, Sat 7/22 @ 3 PM & 8 PM, Sun 7/23 @ 3 PM
On Facebook here:

To tell my story: a hamlet fanfic, The Welders at Silver Spring Black Box

“to tell my story” takes the story of Hamlet into the one place even more dangerous than medieval Denmark: the mind of a teenage girl. In a world where political backstabbing plays out on Facebook and Teen Vogue is helping lead the progressive resistance, this is the reimagining of Shakespeare’s Danish detective story that we need.

Fri 7/21 @ 8 PM, Sat 7/22 @ 3 PM & 8 PM, Sun 7/23 @ 2 PM & 7:30 PM
Tickets here:

Things You Shouldn't Say, The Kinsey Sicks at Theater J

The ladies of The Kinsey Sicks are throwing down their sequined gloves and itching for a fight in Things You Shouldn’t Say, their most personal--and political--show ever. Full of their signature panache, hilarity and perfect harmonies, this all new show takes a searing journey into Trumpism, racism, AIDS, giraffes, Bette Midler, oblong vegetables, and much, much more. The Kinsey Sicks are the Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet that The San Francisco Chronicle has deemed “high-camp, unafraid, subversive and astonishing.”

Fri 7/21 @ 8 PM, Sat 7/22 @ 2 PM & 8 PM, Sun 7/23 @ 2 PM & 7:30 PM

8 Bit Circus Sh*t, Peculiarity Productions at Old  City Farm & Guild, presented as part of Capital Fringe

This is a live stage performance designed to bring video games to life through fire and circus arts. Through two acts, the audience will be immersed in an alternate reality of two video games: Alessa's Nightmare and Pyro fighters.

Fri 7/21 @ 8:30 PM, Sat 7/22 @ 8:30 PM
On Facebook here:

DJ Dan with Proxxy & Lantern, at U Street Music Hall

The legendary DJ Dan has become a master of his craft throughout his career of over two decades. His music has been repeatedly praised by some of the all-time biggest house artists like Carl Cox and DJ Sneak for its funky, boundary-breaking sound known as "West Coast House." Catch this celebrated artist when he returns to U Street Music Hall this summer!

Fri 7/21 @ 10:30 PM

The Changeling Child, The Coil Project at Atlas Performing Arts Center, presented as part of Capital Fringe

Thirty years after a fateful midsummer’s night, discord brews once more. The changeling child at the center of that infamous custody battle lives caught between two worlds, while the heir to Athens' dukedom would rather read poetry than lead armies.

Fri 7/21 @ 11 PM & Sat 7/21 @ 1:45 PM

On/beginning Saturday for the weekend:

River Otters Pirate Booze Cruise, Otter Den DC leaving from Georgetown Waterfront Park

A 2-hour booze cruise on the Potomac with otter pal DJ Jeff Prior (CTRL, Trade). Departing from Georgetown. Tickets only $20. A full bar is available on board and it accepts cash and credit caaaaaaarrrr-ds (you knew that was coming).

Sat 7/22, 4:30 PM -6:30 PM
Tickets here:

Arden Now, Rude Mechanicals at Gallaudet's Eastman Studio Theatre, presented as part of Capital Fringe

Using William Shakespeare's As You Like It as a framework, this play celebrates the diversity of love using modern concepts of romance, relationships, gender, and sexuality.

Sat 7/22 @ 2:30 PM

A Glorious Evening with Octo Octa, The NeedlExchange

Spend a glorious evening with us on the district's most flagrant patio as we welcome Octo Octa for her Washington, DC debut!

Sat 7/22 at 6 PM to 3 AM
Tickets here:

DJ Rap, 3D and Fun & Bass! at Zeba Bar

Charissa Saverio, a.k.a. DJ RAP, has been the undisputed queen of the turntables and voted the number one female DJ in the world for the last 10 years! DJ Rap has infiltrated the music industry with her arsenal of talent. She has established herself as the CEO of her labels: Propa and Impropa Talent, developed her creative direction as a full-fledged producer, and remains to be the recording artist and DJ that everyone has come to love and love dance to!

Sat 7/22 at 10 PM to 3 AM
Tickets here:

On Sunday:

Storytellers' Brunch, Story District
[Disclaimer, I'm a current Story District board member]

Spend Sunday morning with Story District at this morning mixer for storytellers. Eat, drink, shmooze, and swap stories with fellow storytellers. Also, Artistic Executive Director, Amy Saidman, will share a brief presentation and Q&A about the vision for Story District for the next few years based on our strategic planning process and community input. Plus, bring your story ideas and Amy will give feedback to as many people as possible on making a strong pitch.

Sun 7/23 at 11 AM to 1 PM

That's it!

Hope you're able to make at least one of these awesome shows or parties. If you do, make sure to check in, share on Facebook or Twitter, and even let me know about it in the comments here!

- JR

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

[They would] end the American WAY OF LIFE

"Who?" you may ask. Try "What".

Thankfully we have Alexandra Petri to let us know what:


This is from her latest ComPost, "Planet Earth has been taking advantage of America for too long":

Nationalists in the Trump administration are right. We should withdraw from the Paris climate accord. 
This would be a real victory. America, after all, is on its own planet. 
Before Earth asks us to step up and help protect it, it should take stock of its own contributions. There is, frankly, a lot of waste there. It has flourished too long without cuts, and now it is time to pay the piper.
Read the rest at Washington Post.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

NEA Funding in the District in FY17

So I woke up this morning wanting to examine how the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts would affect the District starting with this current fiscal year's numbers.

And there are two aspects to this. The first is how it affects the funding of our own State Arts Agency, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The second is how it funds DC based artists and arts organizations directly.

Before I left for work, I had enough information to at least share this.

The real nugget there is:
At $691,000, NEA funding accounts for 4.45% of CAH's current FY17 budget of $15,534,436. But that is disproportionately split between Personal Services and Non-Personal Services, with $566,391 of NEA funding accounting for 23.18%  of the PS budget and $125,510 accounting for only .96% of the NPS one.
Put another way, about 18.14% of NEA [Federal] funding is directed to Non-Personal Services, compared to the roughly 87.21% of $14,67,536 of the General [Local] funding go to Non-Personal Services.

Definitely feel free to check my math by checking out CAH's Attachment IV - Spending Plan from last year.

If nothing were to change except for the loss of the NEA, that means CAH would lose the equivalent of 7 FTEs out of a staff of 28. Now the problem here is how this loss would affect the ability and capacity of the agency to manage its programs. And that's where we need to dig a little deeper, to see exactly what positions in which departments may be affected.

Looking at the numbers more specifically from CAH's FY17 Schedule A from last year, NEA funding for PS is responsible for the entire salary of 6 staff members and half of the salary of 2 others.  Those positions in particular?

NEA funding covers half of the salaries of the:
  • Office Manager
  • Financial Manager
NEA funding covers the entire salaries for the:
  • Finance Assistant
  • Special Events Manager
  • General Clerk
  • Arts Education Coordinator
  • Grants Program Manager
  • Legislative Affairs Advisor
The break down of fallout by department?
  • 3 of 5 of the Operations team
  • 1 of 2 of the Arts Ed team
  • 1 of 2 of the Legislative Affairs team
  • 1 of 2 of the Program and Events team &
  • 1 of 4 of the Grants team
So...let's assume that instead of not changing anything and just losing what the NEA funded, CAH prioritized keeping the staffing structure as is. The amount lost from the NEA could easily come out of the Total Non-Personal Services from General Funds (see Attachment IV linked above), as the $691,900 NEA funding is roughly 5.41% of the $12,797,847 that was allocated for FY17.

Practically speaking, the agency would probably, by way of the budget oversight process with Council, have to balance the two, keeping staff and reducing grants made in amount and/or quantity. And while that may affect the award amount and quantity of grants, there candidly may not be a noticeably drastic change, particularly should the Commission choose to reduce the activities and programs from departments other than Grants, particularly Arts Education or Program and Events.

Where the cut in NEA funding would be truly detrimental would be in more rural areas, where they don't have the robust economy and diverse funding sources to support what arts programs and organizations they do have.

Check this article out:
The challenge is that our FY18 budget is presented, reviewed, and finalized often while the Federal budget is still going through its budget that's fun. And certainly something to look out for when CAH has ITS budget hearing with the Committee on Finance and Revenue, on Wednesday, April 12.

So, enough about the Commission, what about NEA's FY17 grantees based in Washington, DC

Out of 34 grantees, 12 of them are National and/or service organizations in scope. 1 of them is Global. 21 of them are local, with 2 of those being individuals and the other 19 being organizations.

Those 21 received a total of $452,500 with the median award being $17,500. To put it in perspective, that is about 4.92% of the over $9 Million in FY17 Grant Awards CAH approved for the current fiscal year.

So...that being said, District residents absolutely should still fight for the NEA, not because our arts community will be decimated if it goes away (it won't), but because this is about the fight for who we are and what we value as Americans. Funding the NEA is simultaneously a statement that we value the ability of individuals to discover their voice and express ourselves, as well as the unique experiment that is America and the kind of cultural exchange and creation that can only happen to the scale that it does, in our special melting pot. And if we don't value the arts in all their complicated, nuanced, and powerful ways to transform people as individuals, as communities, as a country, then what the hell are we fighting for.

What now? I recommend starting with Americans for the Arts' Arts Mobilization Center.

Oh, and if you're up for it, let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Council dates for artists and arts advocates in the District

DC Arts & Artist Advocates!

Save the dates for the following hearings at The Council of the District of Columbia. And please share.

*To testify contact: Sarina Loy, or 202-724-8058

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Performance Oversight: Thurs, Feb 16, at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Wed, Apr 26, at 10 am in Room 500

And with development of the Cultural Plan that is being led by the DC Office of Planning:

*To testify: email or call 202-724-8196

DC Office of Planning
Performance Oversight: Mon, Mar 6, at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Mon, Apr 10, at 10 am in Room 412


*To testify contact: Demetris Cheatham at or 202-297-0152.

DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment
Performance Oversight: Wed, Feb 22, at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Wed, May 3, at 10 am in Room 120

For the rest of the performance oversight and budget schedule.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Why Word Matter - The difference between arts advocacy and advocacy for artists

So here's a post I shared on Facebook:

This is the full text:
Why words matter as it relates to arts advocacy and advocacy for "artists". 
I realize I might be overanalyzing it, but if you look at other organizing efforts, the Women's March, the Immigrants' March, the Scientists' March, even that word choice puts the individuals first, rather than institutions. And it puts the latter in service of the former, not the other way around. 
A March for Arts is an inherently different thing than an Artists' March, because the former and "arts advocacy" in general, is primarily focused on systems and supports for the institution of art, rather than the needs of individual artists.
I suppose all this is to say that, although I am terribly worried about the threat to the NEA, nothing's really changed when it comes to the plight of individual artists. Many are still worried about affordable housing, healthcare, simply earning a living wage for our art and not subsidizing our primary creative job(s) with non-arts related endeavors. And those concerns are nothing new. 
Don't get me wrong, I think artists more than ever should be involved in "Arts Advocacy", especially with the threat to the NEA. And I recommend all hands need to be on deck for Arts Advocacy Day coming up, March 20 to 21. But I think we're long overdue for a more intersectional platform of advocacy that puts artists first. And it's one that will need to be led by artists and supported by organizations.
What do you think?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

A [Completely New] Way of Life: Urban Sprawl

From TreeHugger quoting Shawn Lawrence Otto's Fool Me Twice, in a post from December 28, 2016:
In 1945, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists began advocating for "dispersal," or "defense through decentralization" as the only realistic defense against nuclear weapons, and the federal government realized this was an important strategic move. Most city planners agreed, and America adopted a completely new way of life, one that was different from anything that had come before, by directing all new construction "away from congested central areas to their outer fringes and suburbs in low-density continuous development," and "the prevention of the metropolitan core's further spread by directing new construction into small, widely spaced satellite towns."
 Read the rest.