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.
AMOUNT ASKED FOR: $3,460
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