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What does it take to get an arts grant from the D.C. government?

In 2003, 588 hopeful applicants sought cash from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for various projects. Sometimes they got what they wanted.

NAME: Jasmine L. Stevenson

GRANT APPLIED FOR: Young Artists Community Service Program; city offers up to $2,500 to artists between the ages of 18 and 30 as “support for projects that strengthen communities as well as provide positive alternatives for youth.”

MONEY NEEDED FOR: continuation of Stevenson’s Christian-based dance class for teenagers at the Greater Fellowship Full Gospel Baptist Church on Alabama Avenue SE

BACKGROUND: Stevenson, 28, has choreographed various “form[s] of worship dance” at the church for about eight years, according to her application. She learned to dance at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, from which she graduated in 1995. “I am so glad that I can combine my love of both dance and Christ to service the very community that I come from,” she said in her artistic statement. “God has given me a gift that I can not deny and if I can not dance I would rather die.”

PLAN: Stevenson needed money to keep her program operating, she said.


STATUS: approved for $1,250

EVALUATION: The six panelists faulted Stevenson for a lack of vision and specificity. “Weak budget outline,” wrote one. “Appreciate the community outreach segment—doesn’t seem goals for grant clearly defined.”

UPSHOT: Stevenson spent all of her grant money on uniforms for her 10 dancers, including white blouses, purple skirts, and jazz shoes. Her dance class still performs every fourth Sunday at church. “It was a good experience,” Stevenson said about the grant. “It made me think specifically about what I was doing and where I wanted to go.”—