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    Mayor’s Arts Awards Part 2

    Deep Thoughts from the Director September 19th, 2012 By Amy Saidman

    We didn’t win. But, it’s ok, because we’re all champions. No really, it’s ok. I mean, we knew it would be hard to beat out our competition: Art Enables, FotoDCLife Pieces to Masterpieces, and Post-Classical Ensemble.   In the end, it was Art Enables who took the day.  Hard to beat a group that gives adults with developmental disabilities resources and support to become visual artists and exhibit and sell their work.

    The Mayor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement were given to legendary film producer and director George Stevens, Jr. and African Heritage Dancers and Drummers Founding Artistic Director Melvin Deal. Also honored were former mayor Anthony A. Williams and a lawyer named Paul Jorgensen who had something to do with all the painted elephants and asses around town.

    Highlights of the night were the artists, of course (of which there should have been more and more often), including performances by our very own Vijai Nathan, and our friends the Poem-cees (a.k.a. Darrell Perry and Patrick Washington) and Christylez Bacon.  The show opened with a great medley of dancers including hand-dancers, tango dancers, and hip hop. Melvin Deal’s African Heritage Dancers and Drummers were awesome as always. The man can still move at 70.  I loved the age-range of dancers – from ridiculously cute kids under the age of 10 to grandmothers.   The final act featured an amazing saxophonist , Art Sherrod,  and grammy-winning vocalist Micki Howard who sang Stand By Me (with a special appearance by what may have been Art’s  6 year-old son, pretending to play and tune his guitar along with them).

    Least favorite moments would include:  watching those awful, boring, poorly produced vintage 80s videos; worrying about Micki’s boobs falling out of her dress (which was open from her neck to her belly; waiting for the teleprompter to work;  trying to follow the program (since they didn’t); listening to presenters mangle names of awardees and performers;  enduring long stretches of yammering by presenters between performances; and wishing for alcohol at the reception.  Though, I will say, the tent was impressive and the band was good and there was plenty of meatballs and fried chicken to go around.

    All in all, a fun evening, win or lose, and I’m very grateful to have been a part of it and recognized for our accomplishments.  Though some of the SpeakeasyDC guests complained of being bored, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I glad this time is set aside each year to honor artists, arts organizations, and arts educators,  and I like hearing the DC establishment publicly sing our praises and talk about how important we are (The arts, that is, not SpeakeasyDC).  Mayor Gray and the rest of the speakers repeatedly affirmed the important role that the arts play in our culture and economy. The arts bring in $1.1 billion a year, they said, and the DMV is the second largest theater town, and they aspire to be a “world-class” go-to city for arts and culture. Here’s hoping the dollars follow!

    One thing I must add, in the wise words of our Blog Bizatch (aka editor-in-chief), Meredith Maslich, if they gave out awards for the most awesome and loyal fans and supporters, we would totally have won that night. It was amazing to walk into the auditorium and see so many of our peeps – looking so fine in their bow-ties and gowns.  Fingers crossed for next year.

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