(PC: 202 Mural, Lynch. Got. Lost. Located Jabbo's Compact Market in Trinidad NE DC)
The mission of Words, Beats & Life (WBL) is to transform individual lives and communities through Hip-Hop culture in all its forms. As a set of cultural practices and art forms with a global reach, Hip-Hop has demonstrated its power to transform the lives of young people around the world and right here in the nation's capital.
Through Hip-Hop, WBL develops programs to support Arts Education and Creative Employment for young creatives throughout the District of Columbia with the human and material resources and opportunities to participate in the District’s creative economy as both creators and managers. We do this through a curriculum that involves instruction, research, and the hands-on application of lessons learned as performers and managers.
Over the last 18 years, WBL has developed a framework around four key priorities that define our multiple programs, performances, and engagement opportunities:
Arts Education: Having offered innovative, wide-ranging Arts Education curriculum for more than 18 years, this priority is supported through all of WBL’s classes and workshops designed to build greater knowledge of, and skills in, multiple forms of art connected to hip-hop.
Creative Employment: This priority speaks to our direct effort to ensure that more and more of our city’s youth and young adults have access to employment opportunities in the creative sector as both artists and arts managers. WBL sees this work as an integral next step to having lasting impact in communities beset by poverty and poor access to employment training and resources. This is a core piece of our social justice work, designed to directly address the systemic exclusion of young people from the District’s Creative Sector, the second largest employment sector in Washington, D.C. after the federal government.
Our Creative Employment curriculum is focused around five fields of management: 1) Arts Administration; 2) Presenting & Producing; 3) Research & Teaching; 4) Financial Planning; and 5) Marketing. Within this framework, WBL offers courses in Music Production (song writing, beat making, DJing); Visual/Media Arts (graffiti, street art, fine art, graffiti fine art, videography and photography); Performing Arts (spoken word poetry, ensemble poetry, hip-hop theater, rap); and the Humanities (DC Youth Poet Laureate).
Cultural Diplomacy: Our work conducted with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and through our in-house exchange programs falls under the Cultural Diplomacy priority. This encompasses the many ways in which we engage international artists, as well as our programming with Embassies here in Washington, D.C.
Centering Marginalized Voices: From the leadership of WBL’s board, to the programming we do with Women, Muslim, LGBTQ and First Nation artists and people with Differing Abilities, WBL’s work is grounded in the inclusive centering of marginalized voices. We know firsthand the power and impact of each community’s stories and the art produced by lived experience. That power to transform audiences, and their views of these intersectional communities even when they are part of the communities themselves, allows for our transformative work to resonate on multiple levels.