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In February, at a D.C. Council oversight hearing for the District’s arts commission, Julianne Brienza did this:
“We can’t get the appropriate amount of money in the District of Columbia,” said the executive director of the Capital Fringe Festival, the scrappy and now massive unjuried performing arts festival that takes over the Mount Vernon Square area each July.
Fringe, Brienza said, is considering taking half of the festival to Maryland, to take advantage of public funding opportunities there. “Losing the funding for the arts will make D.C. a less vibrant place to live,” she said.
Then, last week, when the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities announced its arts grants for fiscal year 2013, this happened:
$6,250.00 The funds will support The Fringe Festival, fallFRINGE and the Training Factory to provide opportunities and serve as a catalyst for the further development of artists as well as incentive to remain or relocate to the District.
OK, OK. $6,250 won’t convince any arts organization to stay anywhere. And it’s only a fraction of the more than $80,000 in DCCAH grants Fringe got this funding cycle—-the other grants are $24,000 for general operating expenses and $50,000 for “capacity building services.” (In FY2012, Fringe got $27,500 from DCCAH.) But the wording of the grant definitely sends a message: The District wants to keep Fringe, which will only spend one more year in its current home in Mount Vernon Square. Clearly it didn’t hurt for Brienza to remind the city not to take the festival for granted.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery