The Ward 7 Arts Collaborative, Inc. (W7AC) is a 501c(3) non-profit organization that was incorporated in January 2006 in the District of Columbia (DC).
W7AC pursues its mission through several activities and initiatives that include: Arts Advocacy, Networking, Showcasing, Capacity Building, Youth Development/Arts Education, and Community Partnerships. Our target service area is DC’s Ward 7.
W7AC is seeking funding to produce its third one hour documentary titled "Melvin Deal, The Dancing Griot," The Savior Ship of Traditional African Drumming and Dancing. Our first was Ira Blount: The Common Threads that Bind, a 30-minute film funded by the DC Humanities Council in 2009. Ira Blount, a long time Ward 7 resident, is a 90 year old accomplished, exhibited, honored and self-taught artist. The film provides a deep personal, cultural and historic context that examines his art which includes basket weaving, Japanese origami, calligraphy, beadwork and quilting. Nominated for a 2010 DC Mayor’s Art Award, this film is currently used as a teaching tool in several DC public and charter schools as its public screening continues in churches, senior citizens homes and other community settings. A recipient of the 2010 DC Humanities Council Special 30th Anniversary Grant, the W7AC is currently developing a 15 – 20 minute trailer titled "Melvin Deal, the Dancing Griot." The trailer will narrowly focus on the multi-generational positive impact that Melvin Deal and the African Heritage Drummers and Dancers (AHDD) had on the lives of at-risk youth and families in Ward 7 from 1986 – 2000, the height of the DC’s PCP/crack related crime and murder epidemics.
In 2009 W7AC provided arts education services to close to 1,200 underserved and hard to reach youth ages 6- 21 and approximately 800 adults including senior citizens. Seventy-five local artists participated in W7AC arts education, advocacy, networking, showcasing and capacity building activities. Ward 7 is 97% African American and contains 20% of DC’s total population. Married families account for less than 30% of Ward 7 households. Single, female headed households constitute the majority of Ward 7 families. One-third of Ward 7 residents are negatively impacted by poverty, low skill levels and insufficient educational achievement. The area’s mean income is $30,000. The unemployment rate is three times that of the DC/MD/VA region. At the same time Ward 7 has many long standing stable neighborhoods and a rich cultural heritage that W7AC seeks to preserve and celebrate.
The W7AC is reaching beyond the boundaries of Ward 7 through its documentaries and projects such as Community In Bloom, a multicultural collaboration with the Washington Opera and the AHDD. W7AC has been engaged by the Smithsonian Anacostia Art museum to contract local artists to facilitate multidisciplinary workshops at the museum in 2010. This partnership will increase public exposure to our rich local arts heritage and artists, as well as enhance our multicultural outreach. Lastly, W7AC has formed a partnership with the Planned Parenthood Ophelia Egypt Teen Center to increase the ability to reach our youth (ages 14 -21). This includes culturally competent health (HIV/AIDS and substance abuse) prevention activities that incorporate project based arts learning activities designed to reinforce the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Art Standards.