DC artists use music to fight gentrification



Ten local artists collaborated with residents of Barry Farms public housing complex in Anacostia to fight gentrification through the arts. They met in resident homes, attended community meetings, and heard both the fear and anger that residents expressed in the face of impending plans for redevelopment, which will displace their families. Among other projects, the residents asked three of the artists to compose a "theme song" to uplift and sustain them as they confront government officials, testify in court, and protest on the streets. “Our Home” incorporates phrases used by the residents, and features 14-year old Barry Farms resident JayRico Simms.


Barry Farms was a significant post-Civil-War settlement of free Blacks and freed slaves. Due to its concentration of poverty, high crime, and economic segregation, the Barry Farm neighborhood has been targeted by the District government to be razed and replaced with new “mixed-income” units and commercial spaces. Residents are concerned that they will be displaced, since the rate of return in the District is extremely low, e.g. the Valley Green housing project, where only 24 of 300 households were allowed to return. Residents are organizing to stop the planned demolition and involve residents in the redevelopment process, e.g. the Barry Farm Study Circle and the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association.


The ten local artists involved in the project were participants in a brand new program at The Sanctuaries, which brings artists of diverse racial and religious backgrounds together in a community of shared learning and collaboration, and equips them to connect their spiritual lives with their artistic practice in direct service of justice campaigns. This Spring, the artists partnered with Empower DC to support their campaign for affordable housing in Barry Farms. The artists featured on the song are: Jon Schwartz (Bass), Maya Rogers (Vocals), Ben Lasso (Vocals), JayRico Simms (Vocals), Osa Obaseki (Production).


We are currently looking for radio airplay and digital publicity to raise awareness about the displacement that's happening in Barry Farms and the role that the arts can play in fighting it.  

For more information, contact Maya: maya@thesanctuaries.org