(Updated at 8:51 a.m. Saturday) Though one of D.C.’s largest art events is set to return this year with more neighborhoods than ever before, its founder and former creative director won’t return with it.
In an open letter she penned to attendees and organizers earlier this week, Art All Night founder Ariana Austin said she’s parted ways with the event. Why? A participating community group and a city agency took her idea and ran off with it, she alleges.
“Art All Night was a terrific idea usurped by our sponsoring organization, not properly credited by D.C. government agencies, and a case study in competing business and arts interests in the city,” Austin wrote.
The problem began, Austin said, when Art All Night linked up with Shaw Main Streets. Though the community group “seemed like a terrific sponsoring organization,” they soon began to take credit for the festival, she alleged. (Side note: Alex Padro, executive director at Shaw Main Streets, said he had “no comment” about Austin’s version of events.)
In 2014, Austin said the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities moved to expand the festival without consulting her. When she contacted the agency, she recalled their response as, “oops, was that you who started Art All Night? Sorry!”
Austin continued in her letter:
This year (2016), the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) received a reduced amount of funds from DCCAH to produce the festival, changed the subtitle (from Nuit Blanche which I had a license to use to Made in D.C.), but kept the name “Art All Night” (too generic to be protected by law). Of course I sent a note to DSLBD, but they never responded.
In other words, Austin told us, the groups pushed her out of her own event.
“Nobody makes any distinction between the Art All Night that’s happening this Saturday and the other,” Austin told us. “They didn’t credit it. They didn’t say it started five years ago … It’s just Art All Night.”
When reached for comment, Ana Harvey, the DSLBD’s acting director, responded with the following statement:
We are honored to have played a role in supporting this community festival but the credit for its success and continued growth since 2011 is due to the grassroots efforts of hundreds of volunteers and community organizations. We look forward to supporting this and other programs, such as Made In DC, 202 Creates and Mayor’s Arts Awards, that capture, highlight and promote the intellectual and creative genius of DC’s local maker community.
All in all, Austin said she just wants credit for her idea and recognition for the work she and other volunteers have put in over the years. Austin ended her open letter with three suggestions:
DSLBD, DCCAH, and Shaw Main Streets should immediately put the history of the event on the current website and honor the contributions and intellectual capital that they’ve borrowed.
DC Government agencies must do a better job of giving credit where it’s due, and responding to individual citizens with respect especially when they use their concepts.
The time is now for a general convening with artists, businesses, developers, and government agencies to discuss roles and responsibilities for collaboration and partnerships so we can all benefit from our shared interests in this beloved city.
Though she’s not helping organize Art All Night this year, she’ll still attend the event, however.
“I’m going to go,” Austin said. “I have a lot of friends still involved in this event. We helped them build out this project.”
Photo via Twitter / Art All Night DC
Today, we are awarding $300,000 for the first ever Emerging Business District Demonstration Grants. pic.twitter.com/1fqKjeXU5d
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) April 19, 2016
Some fledgling business improvement district (BID) organizations in Dupont Circle, Shaw and along the 14th and U Street corridors were officially awarded a boost from the Mayor’s Office earlier today.
Mayor Muriel Bowser doled out more than $300,000 across five planned BIDs as part of her office’s first-ever “Emerging BID” demonstration grant program. According to the Mayor’s Office, the purpose of the grants “is to subsidize the organizing operations necessary to establish a Business Improvement District.” In other words, hand out cash to help up-and-coming BIDs fund their operations while they get off the ground.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and other local politicians cut ribbons at 14 Shaw- and U Street-area businesses during a “ribbon cutting roundup” organized by Shaw Main Streets earlier today.
Duffy’s Irish Pub (2106 Vermont Ave. NW) and U Scoot (1949 Vermont Ave. NW) were two of the businesses honored with a ceremony.
“We’ve been open since June, but it feels like it’s official now that they’ve come here and cut a ribbon,” U Scoot owner Andre Esser said.
Bowser was scheduled to cut ribbons during the openings, but had to cancel many appearances — including ones at U Scoot and Duffy’s — at the last minute.
Duffy’s general manager and former owner Andy Duffy laid out dozens wings in anticipation of Bowser’s arrival, but when he cut the large red ribbon, he was joined only by Nadeau, new Duffy’s owner Casey Callister and Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alexander Padro.
As attendees left the pub with to-go boxes packed with wings, Duffy and Callister said they were just happy to be recognized, even if the mayor herself couldn’t make it.
“We’re very grateful to have that kind of support,” added Callister. “I think it shows that we care about businesses here in D.C. and our politicians care.”
Blocks away at U Scoot, Esser echoed the positivity. “It was a success,” he said. “[The mayor] wasn’t here, but it was still nice.”
Photo of Mayor Bowser via Twitter/MayorBowser
On Tuesday at 6 pm a tribute to Michael Jackson was organized by Radio One in front of the Howard Theatre (620 T Street, NW). Some 100 people showed up to a flash mob dance of Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Shaw Main Streets was a co-sponsor of the tribute to Michael Jackson on the fourth anniversary of his death.
Savor the flavors of Shaw on Thursday, April 18, at the 2013 Shaw Main Streets Gala. The event, “Savour Shaw,” will take place at 7 pm at Long View Gallery (1234 9th Street NW). It will highlight the food, drink and music of the neighborhood to support the Shaw Main Streets‘ Commercial Revitalization and Historic Preservation programs.
- Derek Brown, The Passenger
- R.J. Cooper, Rogue 24
- Frederik de Pue, Table
- Daniel O’Brien, Seasonal Pantry
- Tom Power-Corduroy and Ron Tanaka, Thally
Tickets are $75 and include small bites and a signature cocktail, hors d’oeuvres, live jazz music, a silent auction and admission to the gala’s after party. For more information, visit the Eventbrite page.
The historic Shaw neighborhood continues to grow and change and the April 18 fundraiser, “Shaw in Bloom” will celebrate what’s happening in this part of town. Long View Gallery at 1234 9th Street NW is hosting the Gala 2012, an event of Shaw Main Streets; the gala runs from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $75.
Shaw Main Streets is a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing the 7th and 9th Street corridors of the neighborhood. The gala will benefit Shaw Main Streets’ commercial revitalization efforts. “Shaw in Bloom” will feature:
- A live auction hosted by Town Dance Boutique’s drag queen hostess, Lena Lett.
- The evening’s master of ceremonies is Paul Wharton, TV fashion and lifestyles guru and “Real Housewives” star.
- Beer, wine and a signature, crafted cocktail by The Passenger’s expert mixologist, Derek Brown.
- Live, acoustic jazz performances by 1905 Bistro regulars, Laissez Foure.
- The announcement of the winners of Shaw Main Streets’ awards for “Shaw Champion,” “Shaw Hero,” and “Shaw Game Changer.”
About Shaw Main Streets
Shaw Main Streets was founded in 2003 and utilizes the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Four Point Approach to revitalization. The organization provides a multitude of services and projects throughout the neighborhood, from training business owners, to cleaning up trash and graffiti, to promoting the various businesses in Shaw. Shaw Main Streets has played a direct role in more than 100 businesses that have opened in or relocated to the neighborhood, and has helped existing businesses evolve to meet changing consumer tastes and needs.
One of the things I love most about Borderstan? The burgeoning art and entertainment district in my eastern slice of Borderstan: Logan-Shaw.
Read Eliza French’s review of the exhibition at Lamont Bishop Gallery: A Vibrant Fusion of Cultures: Aniekan Udofia’s “The Village B-boy”.
If you haven’t checked out Shaw’s cultural offerings, here’s a great opportunity; this Wednesday’s Shaw Art Walk, sponsored by Shaw Main Streets. From 6 to 9 pm, take a break from your regular happy hour spot, and stroll through Shaw to visit some new shows at local art galleries, all of which will be open for the evening.
Six galleries are participating, including Civilian Art Projects, Contemporary Wing (taking up temporary digs over on 9th Street NW), Lamont Bishop Gallery, Long View Gallery, Maruka Gallery and Touchstone Gallery. All galleries will be showing off their latest shows, and welcoming visitors from 6 to 9 pm.
Also open, a rare treat and little-known DC treasure: the Convention Center’s extensive art collection is being opened up for a special viewing as a part of the Shaw Art Walk. If you want to check that out, make it your first stop on the tour – the tour starts promptly at 6:30 pm, at the Mount Vernon entrance to the Convention Center.
Still hankering for more art at the end? Finish your stroll with a sidle over to the Passenger, where you can mingle with your new culturally enlightened buddies over artsy drinks.
Check it out and let us know what you think!