Just before Northeast DIY space Union Arts permanently closed, an all-day summit was held inside the venue. Musicians, music entrepreneurs and local music fans spent the afternoon discussing some of the pressing issues affecting the scene–the lack of affordable creative spaces like Union Arts, scarce financial resources for artists, and other hot-button topics. The summit also had some actionable workshops for musicians on branding and marketing, managing finances and composing music. For that one day, the community felt a little closer and more tight-knit, all thanks to three women who put the whole thing together.
Dior Ashley Brown, Aerica Banks and Jonna Humphries are the creative forces behind the D.C. Music Summit, which comes back for its second run this Saturday. For this year’s installment, the summit will expand to four separate venues along the H Street Corridor–DC Conscious & Cafe, The Elroy on H, Halftime Sports Bar and Rasheed’s–to bring attention to Black-owned businesses in the neighborhood. “We wanted to give those businesses recognition, as this summit is also about sustainability,” said Brown.
The summit will host several discussions throughout the day, all with a focus on sustaining creativity in D.C. Some are broader in scope while others are tailored towards specific areas of interest like how to put on a show, build a music business, licensing music and exploring the legalities of the industry. There’s also a panel discussion centered on artist displacement, something that Brown went through after Union Arts closed last fall.
“My arts collective at 411 New York Ave NE [Union Arts], where we housed the first annual summit, has currently been displaced,” said Brown. “I felt it necessary for the creative community to come together to discuss how we can find resolutions to this creative displacement and the current U.S. budget cuts.”
Ariel Shelton (program manager, Kennedy Center), Jim Thomson (founder of Multiflora Productions and Electric Cowbell Records), Shay Stevens (Mars Urban Arts Curator, Washington Performing Arts), Desirée Venn Frederic (founder of Nomad Yard Collectiv) and more music and art influencers are scheduled to speak at Saturday’s summit. Aside from the discussions, there’ll be plenty of time for networking and getting to know fellow creatives around town. The summit will provide free lunch for all guests and performances from local acts like R&B duo Blaque Stone, percussion virtuoso Malik Stewart and Tamika Love Jones.
“The Summit will show musicians how to organize their budget, how to market themselves to their community, and network with up-and-coming organizations that distribute your project/album to the masses locally and beyond,” Brown said. “The summit is an opening to align the back end of a musician’s career.”
The D.C. Music Summit will take place on Saturday, April 29, and it’s free to attend. To register and view the summit’s complete schedule, visit their website for more details.