Last year’s LUMEN8Anacostia, the partially city-sponsored arts festival aimed at inspiring future economic development in Anacostia, was all about being big, splashy, and temporary. This year, both the festival and the neighborhood’s growing arts sector are embracing permanence.
The centerpiece of the 2012 festival, planned by ARCH Development Corporation with an assist from the city’s Office of Planning, was a former police warehouse off of Martin Luther King Avenue SE, which at times felt like a massive edifice of synergy: There was a Busboys and Poets satellite; a climbable, a large-scale temporary sculpture courtesy of a city public-art initiative; and a pair of art parties packed with local bands, an elevator-shaft light projection, and sanctioned street art. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, a handful of unused storefronts on MLK and Good Hope Road SE became temporary art spaces.
This year’s LUMEN8, which begins with a 12-hour celebration on June 22, is centered around the neighborhood’s newest jewel: the Anacostia Arts Center. One reason, according to Phil Hutinet, the chief operating officer of ARCH, is that several of last year’s “temporium” spaces did what they were supposed to do: They found people to lease them.
The police warehouse, too, is no longer available to the festival, which has shifted LUMEN8’s center of gravity from Shannon Place SE to Good Hope Road. [Update, May 23: The warehouse is now scheduled to be demolished on June 30, so opening events will be able to take place there on June 22.] Some events will take place outside the art center: Although much of the lineup is TBA, musicians will perform outside another warehouse on Good Hope Road at the kickoff celebration, and there will be plenty of outdoor tents. Also taking a spot at the center for the festival’s duration is local artist Elsabe Dixon, who will create a large-scale work using silkworms and their product.
After the grand kickoff, LUMEN8 will continue for seven more weeks, several of which are dedicated to specific creative themes. First up is visual artists; featured activities include a discussion with local performance artist Holly Bass, sketching workshops, and a speed-dating event where artists can meet other arts professionals. For film week, organizers are hoping to screen the HBO film The Nine Lives of Marion Barry as well as show portions of Anacostia: The Series, the soapy Web series set in the neighborhood. Food, fashion and beauty, and photography will also get dedicated weeks.
The arts center will initially be open Tuesday to Saturday, though Hutinet says he wants to activate different locations at different times to show off various facets of the area. And while this year’s festival may have a less visible scenester presence—unlike 2012, Philippa Hughes’ Pink Line Project isn’t planning a barn-burner—Hutinet is excited that LUMEN8 will respond to at least one request from last year’s attendees: “One of our critiques is that we didn’t have enough children’s activities,” he says. “So now we have children’s activities.”
Photo by David Y. Lee