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In 2005, 528 applicants sought cash from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for various projects. Sometimes they got what they wanted.

NAME: Colin Wambsgans

GRANT APPLIED FOR: Young Emerging Artist Program; city offers up to $2,500 as “support for innovative art projects.”

MONEY NEEDED FOR: a pop-rock album inspired by Washington

BACKGROUND: Wambsgans, 30, is trained in classical composition and graduated from Harvard University in 2001, according to his application. While working at Harvard Radio Broadcasting, he discovered that “the frantic and intense energy in much of rock music was an attractive change from the studiousness I associated with the music from class.” On his journey from classical to rock, Wambsgans made a pit stop at experimental with a song called “Serial”: “Using sampled recordings of cereal in a bowl…I tried to develop ‘themes’ using the different abstract sounds, hence the bad pun of the title.”

PLAN: Wambsgans wanted to “write a series of songs set in and about Washington, D.C., start a small label to release recordings of these songs, and play a cycle of all-ages shows,” he wrote in his project description.


STATUS: denied

UPSHOT: Wambsgans moved to New Haven, Conn., last August and is still plugging away at the album despite the grant rejection. He’s finished five tracks, but the process is “going a lot more slowly than I expected,” he says. As a result, his material has lost some of its currency: One track is about the pandas’ inability to conceive; another addresses the 2004 cicada invasion. His method, at least, remains timeless: “My equipment is all pretty cheap on purpose,” he says.—Rachel Beckman