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THEARC Campus Projects

Thanks to all who supported our production of Voices of Zion: The Black Georgetown Cemeteries Project  last May 2022. The project was very successful in its initial iteration.

We have now launched the next phase to further develop this project that we are calling

DC Emancipation and The Vote


THEARC in SE DC has invited Alliance for New Music-Theatre to be its Theatre-in-Residence as part of a Building-Bridges-Across-the-River partnership. In addition to developing this original work of music-theatre, we will offer student and family workshops, engage the community in conversation on issues of special relevance to the neighborhood.

No story is more important, but still relatively unknown to the greater Washington community and the nation, than the story of DC Emancipation (nine months earlier than Lincoln’s Proclamation of 1863) and the subsequent national election, where the first African American males voted just across the Anacostia River in Rose Park, in the then richly populated Black Georgetown neighborhood.


The opera DC Emancipation and The Vote will serve as a Bridges-Across-the-River project, serving to unite our racially and economically divided city, by bringing opportunities for the community to understand more fully the historical significance of the many contributions by African Americans.

The full work, Emancipation and The Vote, will preview selections mid-March at Mount Zion UM Church, the area’s first African American Church, sponsored by Citizens of Georgetown (CAG). We plan to present the opera at THEARC in April 2024 in an initial staging and then premiere it in April 2025 with full orchestra and staging in celebration of DC Emancipation Day on April 16.

Also in the works is a boy's choir at Bishop Walker School for 4th and 5th graders to be conducted weekly in after-school classes to provide exposure to music of the Anglican and African diaspora and gain comprehensive musical experiences through singing fundamentals and music literacy. Theory and vocal techniques are taught emphasizing repertory by classical African-American composers. Boys’ Choir will be led by Alliance company composer Ronald “Trey” Walton, a graduate of Duke Ellington and resident of Ward 8 community.


A genealogy research project in partnership with Headstones and History. We will offer a special learning opportunity in the summer for Middle Schoolers, using primary source documents to blend “artistic excavations” into African American cemeteries and creative expressions inspired by learning about individuals buried there. The collaborative model will introduce research tools and inquiry-based learning about some of the complicated history of 19th century DC and the contributions of African American leaders. The pilot program will focus on the Mt. Zion/FUBS Cemeteries, to enrich, inspire, and motivate young people to invest in their own genealogy and that of the greater community. The students will also create short artistic responses through story, music, or graphic arts to let their subjects come back to life.

Lisa Fager, Executive Director of the cemeteries has just been featured in the New York Times as a woman who has tirelessly worked to save these long forgotten cemeteries. Read about the cemeteries and the NYT Article HERE.

Stay tuned for more developments as we initiate these projects into 2024 and beyond.

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