Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC was first produced in 2011 by Ariana Austin and Alexander Padro of Shaw Main Streets, and funded with a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Ms. Austin and Mr. Padro’s goal was to bring Paris’ famed Nuit Blanche overnight arts and culture festival to Washington, DC and to produce an event that would unite the creative, cultural and international capital of our city. They redesigned the original festival and transformed it from an exclusively arts focused activity into a creative placemaking opportunity that gave equal importance to the art and to the places where it took place. In short, they created a promotional event that maximized its impact on neighborhood businesses.
Curated by Ms. Austin and a team of volunteers, the first festival exceeded all expectations and attracted 15,000 attendees. A Taste of Art All Night followed in 2012 in the Penn Quarter, presented by the Downtown BID. In 2013, Shaw Main Streets brought back the full festival for an encore, with funding from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Department of Small and Local Business Development. In both 2011 and 2013, the event brought unprecedented attention to the DC metropolitan area’s art scene through the live indoor and outdoor musical performances and art installations which were presented in vacant commercial spaces and warehouses, in public spaces (libraries, recreation centers, and parks), and in theaters and art galleries. Notably, programming even took place inside businesses, some of which had never opened at night. Needless to say, both events drew enthusiastic crowds and many Shaw restaurants and bars reported all-time record sales.
In 2014 and in 2015, through funding and project support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, funding from the Department of Small and Local Business Development, and under the creative direction of Ariana Austin, the festival expanded to include four other DC Main Streets organizations: Congress Heights, Dupont Circle, H Street, and North Capitol, in addition to Shaw. In 2016, the event grew to seven participating Main Streets organizations and was rebranded as Art All Night: Made in DC. The expanded event attracted an exceptional amount of attention from both new and traditional media and it drew an estimated 50,000 participants from throughout the metropolitan area and beyond.