DIY Arts Scene, Uptown Art House on NPR's Kojo Nnamdi Show / by Maxwell Young

Uptown Art House founder Jamal Gray joins The Kojo Nnamdi Show. 

 Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher

Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher

In the arts community, DIY ('Do-It-Yourself') spaces are integral to the prosperity of the artists and sustainability of the collective conscious. Homes, warehouses, breweries and repurposed restaurants along with their dedicated collectives support the advancement of creatives and organizations in the spheres of activism, art, and music.  These aren’t new refuges.  There was Club 57 in New York City--a haven for Keith Haring and other starving underground artists.  And we can't forget about Warhol's Factory either; the scene was just higher profile given the benefactor. These cultural hubs where people appreciate art and music, uninhibited by society’s parameters are alternatives to the traditional gallery spaces and concert halls where consumerism, popular/mainstream culture, and big business take precedent.

On Tuesday, musician Janel Leppin, Arts Editor of the Washington City Paper Matt Cohen, and Jamal Gray, founder of Uptown Art House joined The Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR to discuss the DIY arts scene in Washington, D.C.

The independent arts scene in the nation’s capital has been nurtured by DIY venues including Rhizome, Paperhaus, Electric Maid--a legendary punk rock venue--Uptown Art House, and many others.  The problem due to gentrification and rising rent prices, though is that these venues struggle to stay open for a sustained period of time.  You may have heard of, or better yet, been to Art Under Pressure, Bohemian Caverns or Union Arts where District culture flourished.  Unfortunately, however, these historic landmarks no longer exist--extinguished for swanky redevelopment projects.

Listen to the perspectives of Janel, Matt, and Jamal as they speak with Kojo about the impact of the DIY community preserving Washington's heritage, and how it’s changing nationally.


Hot Takes

+  "Art spaces reflect whatever we're going through at the time." -Jamal Gray

+ "Money is speaking louder than art in D.C." -Matt Cohen

+ "DIY is about cultivating and incubating artists to be able to take their work to the next level." -Jamal Gray

+ "If we could have some sort of rent stabilization, so we could have a place that stays put for more than five years..." -Janel Leppin