Developing a cultural plan for DC

ARTS | Last week, the DC Office of Planning kicked off a cultural planning process for the city. The cultural plan is intended to increase the role of the arts in the local economy, boost arts appreciation, and make the city more attractive to artists and creative industries (WAMU, 7/26):

Research by Americans for the Arts shows that when governments invest in the arts, they get sizable returns in tax revenue and jobs — and in 2010, nonprofit arts groups and their audiences contributed more than $80 million to D.C.’s economy. But the people who make art often say they can’t afford D.C., which has one of the priciest housing markets in the country. That’s why artist Holly Bass says the D.C. Cultural Plan should prioritize affordability.

“More focus needs to be on these sort of deeper policy issues of affordable housing,” Bass says, “and with that, also, affordable studio space.”

But beyond just deciding where the money goes, creators of the cultural plan want to foster appreciation for the arts in all eight wards of the city. That could mean putting more arts in public schools, supporting arts in underserved neighborhoods and formalizing a process for neighborhoods to plan cultural activities. All of this could lead to economic returns.

The cultural plan process is being led by the DC Office of Planning, in collaboration with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment. (And on a semi-related note, Holly Bass will be familiar to anyone who attended WRAG’s annual meeting last year, where she delivered a powerful performance on racial equity.)

JOBS/REGION | Thanks to growth in northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, the region added 81,100 jobs in the year ending in June. However, most of these jobs were in lower-wage industries. (WaPo, 7/22)

HOUSING | Zoning Change Could Give District 2,600 More Affordable Housing Units (CP, 7/26)

–  The CEO of Kaiser Permanente recently published an essay on racism in America and his experience as a black man outside of the C-suite. (Fortune, 7/18)

– Opinion: Charities, Stop Stereotyping People of Color as Needy (Chronicle, 7/1)

EDUCATION | What it’s like to be a D.C. high school student interning at a big federal agency (WaPo, 7/25)

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