Q&A with DC Commissions on the Arts and Humanities (DC CAH)

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JR Russ, Public Affairs Specialist

What does the Washington D.C. community mean to you?

Because Washington, D.C. has such a unique intersection of local, regional, national, and global communities, it means that while the majority of our work is technically in service to individuals residing, and organizations incorporated in the city, the scope of our service and impact ranges from the hyper-local to international.

How is your agency rethinking innovation?

We are rethinking innovation by being self-reflexive about how our various systems work together during the application process for our grant programs. We endeavor to be candid about what barriers applicants may face, and seek to find solutions to minimize, if not eliminate, those barriers, so artist and humanities scholars can spend even more of their time on telling the story of their work rather than navigating online grant portals that are not as intuitive or as simple as they could be.

What fun facts may your fans and customers be surprised to learn about?

We provided grants to hundreds of individual artists, and not just arts organizations, each year.

Why do you think highlighting community innovators is important?

Well, we know everyone involved in artistic and creative endeavors in their community as an innovator. Highlighting them means telling their story and the stories of their communities. It’s how we remind each other of our shared humanity and build connections essential for any society not just to survive, but to thrive.

What is one thing you wish others understood more about you?

That we rely on hundreds of community members to serve as compensated grant panelists to review applications for all of our funding programs.

What drives you to do what you do?

To provide the kind of support and knowledge that helps those we serve to survive and thrive in their creative endeavors. This includes both individuals and organizations, and is not limited to grant recipients, but those who also attend are programs and events beyond our grants.

What’s your advice on building a good organizational culture? What values are important for your agency, and how did you build that culture?

To be candid and curious - values that are important are equity and inclusion, and we build that culture by endeavoring to bring our authentic and intersectional selves to work. Part of this means working to be better aware of and acknowledge when the impact of our actions are out of alignment from our intent.

What is your favorite advice on how to manage your time and energy?

To not let others’ urgency become your emergency.

What do you hope more people will understand about innovation?

Innovation is impossible without imagination and inspiration, and a thriving and vibrant arts and humanities sector is essential for any community to cultivate those skills.

What is something many people may not think about when they think of D.C. that they should?

There is a thriving local arts and humanities scene that compliments and exists in conversation with the national one.
Picture of DC Commissions on the Arts and Humanities

DC Commissions on the Arts and Humanities

We evaluate and initiate action on matters relating to the arts and humanities.

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH) is an independent agency in the District of Columbia government. First established in 1968, it evaluates and initiates action on matters relating to the arts and humanities. Additionally, CAH encourages programs and the development of programs that promote progress in the arts and humanities. CAH is the designated state arts agency for the District of Columbia. It is supported primarily through District government funds. Additionally, it receives partial support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Don't miss out on the inspiring talks and ideas at TEDxLogan Circle 2024 – secure your tickets today!