Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is a platform for collaborative and experimental artist-organized projects, dialogue, and advocacy. Artists curate and organize all of our programming—as an extension of their own intellectual research. Their projects can take many forms, from conversational dinners, exhibitions, field trips, film screenings, grass-roots organizing meetings, and installations, to lectures, performances, podcasts, publications, symposia, workshops, and more.

  • We support artists as intellectuals & organizers.
  • Artists organize all of our programming—as an extension of their research. 
  • All projects begin with a question. 
  • The final form emerges through collaboration & inquiry.
  • Our goal is to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships around knowledge-sharing. 
  • We created this program model because we recognize that artists are increasingly collaborating across boundaries and borders to shape discourse. 
  • Our program model allows artists to experiment without absorbing financial burdens. 
  • Our commitment to paying artists fairly is why we were the first arts organization between New York and Miami to be  W.A.G.E. certified in 2016. In 2020, 50% of our expenses went directly to artists.
  • On a rolling basis, we accept 100-word curiosity-driven idea submissions from artists living anywhere.

We manage Wherewithal Grants, a funding source for artists in the DC-area. Generously funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as part of its Regional Re-Granting Program, these grants are intended to advance a wide range of experimental and multidisciplinary practices, particularly those that emphasize collaboration and discourse. Since launching in 2019, Wherewithal Grants has supported 136 visual artists with a total of $280,000 in grants.


A thriving arts community is essential to the enduring health of our society. 


We envision our nation’s capital as a place that welcomes, values, and respects the presence and contributions of contemporary artists. 


WPA supports artist-driven projects, advocacy, and dialogue so that artists can live, work, and flourish. 


Collaboration -- We believe there is strength in people working together in partnership.

Inclusion -- We believe in the power of critical thinking and a diversity of viewpoints.  

Experimentation -- We believe in the courage to experiment, innovate, and face the unfamiliar.

a note about our "artist-driven" program model

We designed our program model because we recognize that artists are increasingly collaborating across boundaries and borders to build community and shape discourse. We are interested in facilitating these collaborations through artist-driven inquiry. Our program model provides artists with the opportunity to expand their practices and experiment without absorbing financial burdens or capacity barriers. We provide resources to create critical connections and long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that build artistic communities around knowledge-sharing. Artists can submit proposals here.


WPA was founded in 1975 by the art impresario Alice Denney, organizer of the legendary NOW Festival in 1966. Over the past four decades, and under the leadership of nearly a dozen directors, WPA has presented more than 500 exhibitions; 1,000 performances; 700 lectures, workshops, and symposia; 250 screenings; and 58 public art projects. Nearly every major visual artist in the District between 1975 and today has had some connection with WPA. Many have sat on WPA’s Board of Directors, including William Christenberry, Gene Davis, Sherman Fleming, Sam Gilliam, Martha Jackson-Jarvis, and Maida Withers. Walter Hopps, the legendary curator, was also a board member.

WPA has also brought hundreds of extraordinary artists and curators from outside the area to DC over the years. They include Robert Ashley, Alice Aycock, Eric Bogosian, Chris Burden, John Cage, Ullises Carrion, CoLab, Lucinda Childs, Simone Forti, Hollis Frampton, Group Material, Doug Hall, Deborah Hay, Jenny Holzer, David Ireland, Danny Lyon, Meredith Monk, Antonio Muntadas, Steve Paxton, Howardena Pindell, Adrian Piper, Nancy Rubins, Allison Saar, Jacolby Satterwhite, Carolee Schneemann, Joyce Scott, Alan Sekula, Nancy Spero, Haim Stainbach, Alan Suicide, Saya Woolfalk, Robert Wilson, Zanele Muholi, Alisha B. Wormsley, among many others.

Visit the website for our 35th anniversary exhibition, CATALYST, to see more information about past exhibitions, participating artists, locations, board members, programs, and stories about WPA. Click HERE.

space & Neighborhood

WPA has a 1,500 sq. ft. ground floor, ADA accessible office/project space in the Atlantic Plumbing Building at 8th and V streets NW. Our immediate neighbors include Howard University, the 9:30 Club, the Atlantic Plumbing Cinemas, Hamiltonian Gallery, and dozens of other restaurants and nightclubs. 


Our commitment to artist compensation is why WPA is the first arts organization between New York and Miami to be honored with W.A.G.E. certification

In the past decade alone WPA has paid more than $200,000 in honorariums to artists and $1,000,000 in sales commissions to artists.

We've put even more money into artists' pockets by hiring them on staff, or on a contract basis for art handling and transport, fabrication, graphic design, installation, and photography.

We value artists. We pay artists.