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: Kristen Arant

GRANT APPLIED FOR: Young Artists Community Service Program; city offers up to $3,500 as “support for projects that strengthen communities.”

MONEY NEEDED FOR: Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project

BACKGROUND: Arant, 31, is “a drummer, vocalist, oboist, and organizer—with a vision for a more cooperative society, and a more sustainable, less violent world,” she wrote in her artistic statement. She has worked for a variety of national peace and justice organizations and “believes strongly that each person can find common ground with another by accessing his or her own internal rhythm.”

PLAN: Arant wanted to teach a dozen teenage girls from the District how to sing, play African hand drums, and perform spoken-word poetry. She would recruit participants from local youth organizations, they would meet for 12 weeks in the summer, and the program would end with three community performances.


STATUS: approved

UPSHOT: The young women first performed at the D.C. Arts Center in September and haven’t stopped since. Local organizations started calling to book the group, and it has performed more than a dozen times. “Neither the girls nor I expected that,” Arant says. She received another grant from the city this year, so Arant is holding a drum circle in May to recruit new young women for the program. “The performances are the public face of the project,” she says. “They’re what has propelled it forward at a rate that I can barely keep up with, frankly.”—Rachel Beckman

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