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Former D.C. Church Being Transformed Into Arts Center

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A vacant church in Southwest D.C. is being transformed into a community arts center. (Credit: Kimberly Suiters/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

A vacant church in Southwest D.C. is being transformed into a community arts center. (Credit: Kimberly Suiters/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – A former church in Southwest D.C. is the centerpiece of a planned arts revolution in the city.

The historic Friendship Baptist Church at the corner of Delaware Avenue and H Street SW has been vacant for more than two decades, but that’s about to change when the 138-year-old church opens as a community arts center.

The transformation process began last fall and now the previously plain white exterior walls boast a full mural wrap of jaw-droppingly bright colors.

Inside, the two-floor, 15,000-square-foot space is being designed to host a variety of arts-based activities. There will be a stage on each floor for performances, as well as several rooms designated as project and exhibition spaces. The inside walls also will be decorated by artists to give the rooms an artistic dimension.

Ian Callender, one of the co-founders of Blind Whino which is spearheading the project, said when the arts center is completed it will be able to host a variety of events.

“Here’s a space where anything can happen — theater, music, supper club, jazz, anything that you can imagine,” Callender said.

Christopher Bradshaw’s non-profit Dreaming Out Loud has been busy cultivating land outside the church so that both the inside and outside can be utilized by the community.

Callender said he’s hoping that in three or four years the community arts center will anchor D.C.’s arts district.

Fundraising is underway to help offset the restoration costs. For more information or to donate, visit their website.

WNEW’s Kimberly Suiters contributed to this report. Follow her and WNEW on Twitter.

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