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Art All Night Festival Returns September 24th with Seven Diverse Neighborhoods from Northwest to Southeast Showcasing Visual and Performing Arts

Accompanying images can be viewed in the September 2016 issue pdf

By Alexander M. Padro*

The District’s annual overnight arts festival is back this month, with a new focus and programming in two additional neighborhoods.

For eight hours starting at 7 pm on Saturday, September 24th, “Art All Night: Made in DC” will bring visual and performing arts installations and performances, including painting, photography, music, dance, sculpture, crafts, fashion, theater, film, lighting projections, poetry and much more to indoor and outdoor public and private spaces, including businesses, in seven of DC’s Main Streets districts.

Inspired by a famous Parisian nocturnal festival, Shaw Main Streets first presented Art All Night in 2011, and repeated it in 2013. Shaw Main Streets received the Innovation on Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center in 2015 for developing the festival. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) expanded the festival, adding Dupont Circle, North Capitol Street, H Street, NE, and Congress Heights in 2014 and 2015. This year, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) is presenting Art All Night, adding two new DC Main Streets neighborhoods, Tenleytown and Van Ness. Shaw Main Streets is organizing the festival on behalf of DSLBD.

New this year is that Washington, DC-based artists, collectives and performers will be showcased exclusively. DSLBD is responsible for the new “Made in DC” initiative, and the festival has been rebranded to embrace that slogan. With the exception of invited international artists and a handful of DC expatriates (who were themselves “made in DC”), the festival will be a showcase of the diverse talents the city has to offer. And on three blocks of 8th Street in northern Shaw, the fun will start at 4:00 PM with a pre-party featuring over 25 street performers from the Nuit Cirque Collective, including stilt walkers, aerialists, and jugglers, long before the sun goes down.

Each neighborhood will offer a range of venues, artistic media and performances. For example, African-American step troupes and Chinese lion and dragon dancers will perform in Shaw, while the public will be invited to get their Great Gatsby on and dance to jazz in Tenleytown. Ride the H Street streetcar and enjoy saxophone, flute, drum, spoken word and hip-hop performances. Children of all ages can get their faces painted or try their hand at painting and fiber arts.

You can watch a break dancing competition or learn some new moves, from belly dancing to Bollywood. Watch lighting artists cast familiar buildings in a whole new light and see new murals unveiled and lit. Crowds will roar as drum corps rumble and fire performers light up the night. Watch documentaries and listen to local authors and artists talk about their work. Move to the music played by some of DC’s best-known DJs.

There’s so much to choose from. Why not try it all? The party is all free, all night.

“DSLBD is so pleased to present Art All Night: Made in DC this year,” said Ana Harvey, the department’s director. “It’s so exciting to see the crowds on our streets enjoying wonderful art and performances and eating and drinking in these great neighborhoods. I had a great time last year, and I even bought a painting that’s now hanging in my office!”

Many neighborhood businesses will be presenting art installations and live music, even hosting fashion shows. In Dupont Circle, most of the venues are art galleries and embassies. Public buildings, like libraries, schools and universities, are also becoming temporary art galleries and performance spaces for the night. Some neighborhoods are presenting the arts al fresco, bringing empty lots to life.

Both established and emerging artists will share the festival limelight. Longtime mayoral photographer Lateef Mangum’s work will be on view at Middle C Music in Tenleytown, while self-taught artist Charles Visconage’s colorful Pop Art paintings will be installed at Wanda’s on 7th Salon and Spa in Shaw. Many of the artists’ work will be for sale.

“The night is exciting, and the economic impact of the festival is huge,” explained Gretchen Wharton, board chair of Shaw Main Streets. “Hundreds of businesses and artists in these seven neighborhoods have been looking forward to this night for months. For many of them, it will be the biggest single sales night of the year.”

Art All Night: Made in DC is presented by the Department of Small and Local Business Development in partnership with Destination Congress Heights, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, H Street Main Street, North Capitol Street Main Street, Shaw Main Streets, Tenleytown Main Street and Van Ness Main Streets, with financial support from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities.

For more information on the festival, visit or on the night of the event for the final lineup download the Art All Night DC mobile app from the App Store or Google Play Store.

*The writer, a long-time Shaw resident and neighborhood advisory (ANC) commissioner, is also the Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets.

Copyright © 2016 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Shaw Main Streets, Inc. All rights reserved.