Celebrating 30 years in 2018, Arts for the Aging, Inc. (AFTA) is a nationally recognized social service organization that engages older adults in health improvement and life enhancement through frequent participation in the arts. AFTA’s trained and highly skilled artistic faculty bring visual, musical, performing, literary, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational arts experiences to groups of older adults in community and residential settings in Greater Washington—many live with aging-related physical and cognitive impairments. AFTA’s impact is therapeutic and evidence-based: Studies show that regular arts participation stimulates imagination and reminiscence, decreases feelings of isolation and loneliness, sparks feelings of joy and self-worth, reduces perceptions of pain, alleviates symptoms of chronic and critical illness, improves blood pressure and heart rate, and diminishes stress.

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Community Bridges (CB) empowers girls from diverse backgrounds to become exceptional students, positive leaders and healthy young women by addressing the developmental needs of immigrant and minority girls and their families living at or below the federal poverty level in Montgomery County, Maryland. Over the past 20 years we have served more than 3,500 girls and their families through our CB Girls, CB Mentoring, CB College and Career Planning and CB Family programs. With a 100% high school graduation and college acceptance rate and over 90% of alumnae reporting increased confidence and pride in identity, Community Bridges empowers girls to become future leaders and ultimately end the cycle of poverty.


Founded in 1960 at the request of DC Public Schools, DCYOP has been an integral part of the Washington, DC community, fostering the musical development of more than 50,000 youth. The first youth orchestra to perform at the Kennedy Center, DCYOP has toured 2 countries, played for US presidents and diplomats, and worked with esteemed musicians such as Copland, Maazel, Rostropovich, Hamlisch, Gustavo Dudamel, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kevin Deas. The program has received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (formerly Coming Up Taller) and the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education.

CYOP serves over 500 students ages 4-18 at the main site with 9 orchestras and 100 classes plus another 80 students with an El Sistema-inspired intensive Children's Orchestra at 3 DCPS satellite sites.


Edwin Aparicio (director/choreographer/dancer) is the co-founder and curator of GALA Hispanic Theatre’s annual Fuego Flamenco Festival. Mr. Aparicio is one of the most sought-after flamenco performers, teachers and choreographers in the United States and has performed not only at GALA, but also with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, under the direction of Plácido Domingo, and with the Washington Ballet. GALA is DC’s premier Latino arts organization with a 43-year record of artistic excellence and service to the community.

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Justin Trawick and The Common Good’s debut record, “The Riverwash EP”, exemplifies the raw emotional live sound Trawick and the band have cultivated over the years playing in clubs and festivals up and down the East Coast. With instrumentation consisting of acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, mandolin, and pedal steel, the band’s live performance plays fast and loose with the “Americana” genre, performing heartfelt ballads followed by raucous bluegrass melodies and even moments of hip hop verses. Written by DC based songwriter Justin Trawick, “The Riverwash EP” introduces the listener to Trawick’s unique brand storytelling with five original songs about love, loss, longing, resilience, and time pulling heartstrings of listeners young and old.

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Paula Brown Performing Arts Center is located in Temple Hills, Maryland, and founded in 2012. Dedicated and committed to providing inner city youth an opportunity, and outlet to develop social skills, self esteem, confidence, awareness, cultural diversity and discipline, while training for the Arts.  Under the guidance and vision of Ms. Paula Brown, Founder/Artistic Director; children ages 3-20 years, receive training for a professional opportunity in the Arts Industry with classical Ballet training.

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Based in the Metro DC Area, YAA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization offering world-class training to gifted and committed young performing artists in a professional and nurturing environment. Through mentorship and individualized instruction from renowned artists, students work collaboratively to perform fully orchestrated works of music-theatre in state-of-the-art venues such as the Music Center at Strathmore, where YAA resides as the arts center’s first Affiliate.

spoken word artists


2Deep opened for the late Gil Scott-Heron and performed for President Barack Obama’s first inaugural celebrations at the Washington National Cathedral. She was a four year undefeated slam champion, 2007 Talk To Me Eastern Slam Winner, member of Busboys and Poets’ 2009 Slam Team, Word War II Slam Champion, and prior Busboys and Poets’ Slam Master. 2Deep welcomes a freshman class to American University annually for over half a decade and has spoken out against domestic violence on legislative floors in Maryland. She keeps busy hosting two monthly, sold out shows (ten years) and by running her companies FundaMINTal Consulting and Uncensored Ink. Armed with a BFA, MFA, and MBA, 2Deep is making herself comfortable in a male dominated arena by leaving traces of lipstick on the microphone and a dash of prose laced with her feminine perspective and her truth. 


The D.C. Creative Writing Workshop, based in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast D.C., unites parents, teachers and professional writers-in-residence to transform the lives of youth through self-expression and the power of the written word. Since 1995, when Charles Hart Junior High became the first school in Washington to have an extra-curricular creative writing program, the Workshop's writers-in-residence have introduced thousands of students to the joys of self-expression and the written word, opening for them a world of opportunity that exists outside of the historically neglected area in which they live. While continuing to serve Hart, now a middle school, the Workshop expanded its programs in 2004 to neighboring Ballou High School and Simon Elementary. Students from the three schools have attended readings, plays and other literary events, won hundreds of writing awards, and enjoyed a wealth of new experiences not otherwise available to young people in Ward 8.


Drew Anderson (known lovingly as "Droopy the Broke Baller" and "The Black Weird Al Yankovic") is a parodist, comic, hip hop artist, poet, writer and veteran educator turned teaching artist. He is the founder and co-host of Spit Dat (the longest-running open mic in DC) and creator of the innovative new programs Spoof School and C.R.U.N.K. Academy which focus on making learning fun for students through performing arts.

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Dwayne Lawson-Brown aka the “Crochet Kingpin” is a homegrown DC native poet, activist, break-dancer, and  fashion designer. He is one of the hosts of DC’s longest running open mic series, Spit Dat, as well as a member of the Busboys and Poets hosting team for the 5th & K location.

In addition to featured readings at every Busboys and Poets location, SAGAfest Iceland 2015Spirits and Lyrics NYC and ManassasWoolly Mammoth Theater, and the C2EA “We Can End AIDS” march, Dwayne’s short form poetry prowess led him to win the Best Haiku Award at the 2011 National Underground Spoken-Word Poetry Awards (NUSPA). His work to increase HIV awareness through spoken-word garnered recognition from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, BBCAmerica, the Discovery Channel, and The Washington Post.

Ultimately, his goal is to force his audience to feel. He tends to meet goals. When not documenting his life through poetic meter, he can be found on the  metro making scarves and hats, or singing karaoke.


A San Diego native, Jerrica Escoto has been a spoken word performer for over a decade.  They were on the 2010, 2013, and 2015 San Diego Slam Team and a finalist at the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Jerrica has used their poetry to mentor youth and facilitate workshops for young women in community schools and juvenile hall.  In 2014, they released their first book of poetry with fellow poet, Gill Sotu, entitled "How to Love Gods and Acrobats" and they are currently working on releasing their second book of poetry in 2018.

Jerrica holds a Masters degree in Women’s Studies and has taught at two San Diego County universities. Their professional career in content and creative strategy started when they served as a Creative Content Specialist for celebrity life-coach, Tony Robbins. They're currently a Producer for a tech education management company that fuses both their academic background and Production/Creative background.


Regie Cabico won the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam & took top prizes in 3 National Poetry Slams. He is a founding Board Member of Split This Rock & directs Capturing Fire, an International Queer Spoken Word Slam in Washington, DC where he resides. He is former NYU Artist In Residence at APA Studies & has received numerous fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts & The DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities. He received 3 New York Innovative Theater Awards for his work with the New York Neo-Futurists.  Televison appearances include NPR Snap Judgement, HBO Def Poetry Jam & MTV Free Your Mind. 


Vanny is a singer-songwriter based in Washington, DC. Her music is a mix of Pop, R&B, Classic Rock, Reggae and Jazz Fusion. You can follow Vanny on Twitter and Instagram @VannysMusic.


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By nurturing the artist, we enrich the community. The Art League develops the artist through education, exhibition, and a stimulating, supportive environment, while sharing the experience of the visual arts with the community." Founded in 1954, The Art League, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit organization that has enriched the community and the DC region through extensive visual art programming for people of all ages, successful outreach for under-served youth, and synergistic partnerships with local and regional organizations, businesses and the City of Alexandria. This evening's painting demonstration is by one of The Art League School's most popular and longstanding professional artist instructors: Patrick Kirwin.


The mission of Art Works Now is to create a stronger community through the arts. Our core value of social justice is activated through the content of our programming and our commitment to reducing economic barriers to art education. As an organization dedicated to lifelong learning, Art Works Now offers programs that inspire creativity in members of our community across the entire age spectrum.