Earlier this month, the District Council took the first vote on the fiscal year 2019 budget. I’m proud to announce that the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities will receive dedicated funding for the first time in the District of Columbia’s history. The commission, known as CAH, will receive 0.3 percent of the retail sales tax revenue.
This means that about $30 million is guaranteed every year for the commission, helping to fund the many grant programs, community forums and events the agency hosts throughout the District. According to CAH officials, testifying at a recent Committee on Finance and Revenue performance oversight hearing, if the commission were to fund every grant application it receives, it would take about $44 million.
I have been a strong advocate for expanding and funding arts programs since I joined the Council in the early 1990s. This yearly revenue will make a difference, bolstering CAH’s mission and programs, which not only provide opportunities for the arts community but give the District a large return on its investment.
According to a recent report from the National Endowment for the Arts, the District receives $10.2 billion from the arts community, which is 8.4 percent of the District’s economy. It’s clear that when we make this investment in the arts and humanities we earn more than just an economic boost. Our communities across the District get to enjoy music, art, plays and so much more because we take pride in and support the artistic community.
My three kids, and probably your children as well, have taken part in D.C. arts programs throughout their childhood, and I want the commission to reach more residents in every community in our city. I’m thrilled that dedicated funding for the arts and humanities in the District will finally be a reality.
The initial version of the bill providing dedicated funding for the commission was introduced on March 6 by myself and Council members Mary Cheh, Robert White, David Grosso, Brianne Nadeau and Brandon Todd. Council members Charles Allen and Anita Bonds were added as co-sponsors.
This milestone and investment in our arts and humanities community wouldn’t be possible without support from my colleagues on the Council, from the commission and from arts advocates. I’d like to thank them for their dedication.
The Council is expected to approve the entire FY19 budget during the legislative session on June 5.
Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.