This press release went out on Monday (12/5) as a response to the election of President-Elect Donald Trump.
DC Arts Community Sends Message to Donald Trump
Washington, DC, December 5, 2016 – DC based Jazz artists and presenters gathered to video a message to President-Elect Donald Trump this past Wednesday and Thursday, releasing the video online Saturday, December 3rd. Organized as “REformanceArt,” these artists outlined their love for their city, and what expectations they have for the President-Elect. Fifteen local artists met at Studio202 on Rhode Island Ave, NE, and the result is an open letter, that many are calling brave, chilling, and tone appropriate.“I gave myself forty-eight hours to wrap my head around the election,” Aaron Myers, a local Jazz vocalist and activist said when asked about the project. “After those forty-eight hours were up, I decided to look at what I could do to not only encourage my audience, but to also protect them. After speaking with saxophonist Herb Scott, I thought that there was no reason for us sit idly by hoping for the best, but to be actively engaged with our local and federal officials to protect my rights, the rights of my fellow musicians, and the rights of our audience members.”The group that came together at Busboys and Poets, just two days after the election, and discussed a unifying direction. “After the election results, I felt empty. I felt as if all I had worked for as an artists promoting social change was lost. Pointless; until I got together with some DC artists one morning and let me tell you, REformanceArt was the answer,”said Mark Meadows, who starred this past season in “Jelly’s Last Jam” at Signature Theater.At this initial meeting, the name “REformanceArt” was adopted. The meaning is simple; artists who “Perform to Reform” with the goal of using their platforms to not only entertain, but to also empower audiences. “Artists exist, and are to be heard!” said Emcee Dior Ashley Brown, a long-time DC arts activist. “We are the creative economy, we are innovators, and leaders of society, infrastructure, influence, we add to, and balance society.” This tone can be felt by many of the artists who have grown increasingly irritated by not feeling heard in recent months with the closing of many venues many musicians relied on for work, practice, and even shelter. Now with the looming WMATA safe track, and early closures, many service industry workers fear their jobs (which are apart of the creative economy) are in jeopardy.“We are looking to take our influence not only to the streets of DC, but to the halls of congress, and into the strategy rooms of upcoming elections. It is our goal to form a PAC, and use the creativity we have on stage, to aid candidates that share our ideals elected into office.” said Myers. The organization has been in communication with the offices of Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, along with Andre Carson. “We reached out to both sides of the isle for guidance, and to have our voice heard,” Myers continued, “however, we’ve only heard back from the Democratic leaders so far.”One concerning change expected with the new administration is the change of intentionality inclusion of the arts, and artists at the White House, and the plight of many in the creative economy when crafting strategy. Programs like the Affordable Care Act, if abolished, could leave many entrepreneurs, artists, and small businesses without coverage. “I would like to see President Elect Trump improve on the wonderful things our current President has done with highlighting what critical role creatives play in our society, and how valuable the Arts are for all human beings.” said saxophonist Herb Scott.