LGW18 Explores the Impact of Arts and Culture in the Region

January 8, 2018

Last week, LGW’s Signature Program Class of 2018 met for the third programming session of FY18. Veering from topics rooted in policy and hard data,  the content focused on providing class participants with an understanding of how arts & entertainment impact the region.

This programming session, graciously sponsored by the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company,examined how cultural institutions operate in the region by appealing to various audiences - from residents to the millions of tourists who visit the region annually.

The morning began with a warm welcome form new Signature Program co-facilitator John Butler (’97). John has served on the LGW Board of Directors and facilitated Signature Programs over the years for LGW; we look forward to his involvement with the Class of 2018.

The first activity of the day involves a closer look at arts across the region. In an in-depth conversation moderated by Peter Marks, Chief Theater Critic for the Washington Post, experts in the local theater scene presented the class with an overview of their theaters and the value of diverse arts programming in Greater Washington including live theater, dance, and music. Panelists included Monica Jefferies Hazangeles, President of Strathmore, Meghan Pressman (’16) Managing Director of the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, and Jim Byers, Marketing Director for Arlington Cultural Affairs. 

The conversation explored the following topics concerning the arts:

  • The impact of the arts in the region. Who in our communities has access to the performing arts and where are the areas that are underserved.?
  • Economic impact including the cost of tickets and the importance of securing funding for art spaces in the future. Art spaces in Greater Washington are made up of almost 100% nonprofits, which makes funding for the arts so crucial.
  • The future of arts programs and emerging trends that audiences want to experience. 
  • How do we keep theater strong and alive? The evolution of arts in the region and the challenges that theaters face

Experts did a fanatic job of communicating the world of arts and entertainment in a relatable way. Institutes such as Woolly Mammoth, Strathmore, and Arlington Cultural Affairs help to create economic development within local communities. The panel offered a big picture view of the arts while also tackling the importance of diversity and the uniqueness of each sector of Greater Washington, acknowledging that high-quality arts programs also exist in Maryland and Virginia, empowering and educating local communities.

Following the panel, the day took an interactive turn with an opportunity for the class to tap into their artistic expression. In a session called “Exposure to Alternative Arts,” the Signature Class participated in a dance and movement workshop led by Brooke Kidd ('17), Founder and Executive Director of Joe's Movement Emporium- a cultural art hub that sparks creativity and economic opportunity through programming and productions in education for all.  During the session called “Dance Tools for Leaders,” Brooke introduced the class to a series of movements, and free dance, teaching members how to express their bodies, release tension and stretch. While challenging, it was a fun way to learn new relaxation techniques.

The second alternative arts session focused on slam poetry. Joseph Green, Youth Programs Coordinator of Split This Rock- a nonprofit organization of poets, artists, and activists in D.C. Participants challenged themselves with writing exercises and discovered the roots of leadership, within writing and performance.  The activity was a great way to create a dialogue around difficult issues while also tying back to business and leadership applications.

During the second half of the day, LGW welcomed three unique entertainment aficionados to the stage for a presentation on the intricacies of business, entertainment, commerce, the community, and trends.

Presenters included

  • Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal -Restaurants as Entertainment
  • Jake Burns (’17) Washington Nationals-Nationals in the Community
  • Donna Westmoreland I.M.P -Reinventing the Concert Scene

The final presentation featured an interactive photography trivia facilitated by Adam Levner ('14) Executive Director and Co-Founder of Critical Exposure. Critical Exposure trains youth to use photography and advocacy to make real change in their schools and communities. Adam presented a series of photos, instructing members to guess photo captions and personal information about the artist. The exercise was an eye-opening way for leaders to learn about the challenges and the creative talents of young people in the region. By supporting at-risk youth through the arts, organizations allow students to express and advocate for themselves creatively. When students feel uplifted and heard, it creates opportunities for adults and educators to listen and support students.

Members noted that this was a fresh and exciting third programming session. LGW is committed to providing educational program days that not only cover the topics of regionalism and business but also touch upon the different facets of community growth and connections. Thank you to our presenters and sponsors. The next program day will be Human Needs Day and Inclusiveness Day on January 18 & 19.

More pictures from the event can be viewed here.

LGW18 Explores the Impact of Arts and Culture in the Region