“Your presence here is wonderful, but leaving your money behind would even be a little bit better,” Maureen Bunyan, WJLA TV news anchor and mistress-of-ceremonies reminded everyone at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s 44th anniversary luncheon, held Sept. 15 at the National Press Club.
The theme of the afternoon, “Community & Creativity,” stemmed from the organization’s ‘Call & Response: Community and Creativity’ plan that centers on artistic innovation seen within everyday neighborhoods.
The “Call & Response” theme continued to resonate during the program, with two digital story presentations from American University's The School of Communication’s Community Voice Project from tattoo artist Charles “CoCo” Bayron, who discussed the role that street art and artistic expression played in his life in his feature “Something To Hold On To,”; and artist and executive director of the Ward 7 Artists Collaborative
Wanda Aikens, who explored how her appreciation was both passed to and passed from her by her family, which included her comedienne great-aunt Jackie “Moms” Mabley in her feature “To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected.” Several attendees dressed in brightly colored and patterned cloth milled around the live auction, which included a piece of standing art from Bryant “BK” Adams, whose exhibition “Exercise Your Mind-BK Adams I Am Art” is currently on view at the museum.
The event, which is the museum’s only fundraiser of the year, paid tribute to philanthropy, community service, and volunteerism by honoring three individuals at the event: David C. Driskell, Professor Emeritus and namesake for the Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland College Park - and is also known for his curation of the Camille O. and William H. Cosby Collection of African America Art; Mary Brown, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit “Life Pieces to Masterpieces,” an organization focused on the rearing of young males east of the river by developing their creative and artistic side; and Elnora W. Jackson, a docent at the museum praised for her welcoming presence and “quiet strength.” Of receiving her award, Brown cited it as a “tremendous honor,” calling the recognition “like a stamp of approval from your own community.”
The event also featured keynote speaker Maria Rosario Jackson, a senior research associate and Director of the Culture, Creativity, and Communities Program at The Urban Institute, who referenced that a good neighborhoods have “spaces where residents can express themselves creatively, and that the museum was “a beacon for progress in Washington.”
While the numbers are still coming in, the event is believed to be the most successful to date, says public affairs specialist Marcia Baird Burris.
Camille Giraud Akeju, director of the museum, felt that the event was a “true reflection” of the museum’s mission- “to challenge perceptions, generate new knowledge, and deepen understanding about the ever-changing concepts and realities of ‘community.’”
“[The] event was an occasion to honor those individuals who hear the call and readily respond to furthering the creative vibrance that holds communities together,” she says, commenting that the museum’s interactions with the community and dedication to historical preservation “...has set the standard for community museology.”