News & Politics

Meet the Winners of Micro-Grants for DC-Area Writers and Musicians Affected by the Pandemic

Emergent Seed now plans to expand eligibility beyond ages 18 to 35.

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Winners have been announced in the inaugural round of $500 micro-grants from Emergent Seed, an organization launched earlier this year to offer funding and audience-building opportunities to Washington-area writers and musicians between ages 18 and 35 who have been financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grantees are, in the storytelling category, Dylan Arredondo and Yasmeen El-Hasan; in poetry, Kelly Colburn; in song and lyrics, Be Steadwell, Neffy (Mecca) Russell, Josh Cleveland, and Andrew Grossman; and in instrumental, Langston Hughes, Susanna Mendlow & Devree Lewis, and Juliette Bell.

After workshopping their pieces with professionals in their fields, winners will present the full performances in a virtual event later in the year. Emergent Seed will also offer assistance to the artists in gaining recognition and revenue for their work.

“I think one thing the coronavirus [crisis] is showing us is how important the local is,” says Emergent Seed founder Adrianna Smith, whose live open-mike events, called Makars, were cut short by the pandemic. “I hope this message takes off with audiences and they’ll want to support local writers and composers, whether they know them from pre-pandemic or they’ve discovered them through Emergent Seed.”

A second round of funding will open to applications later in August, with others to follow. Smith is currently working on expanding the eligibility criteria, “one of which will include a method for artists above 35 years old to apply,” she says. Details and deadlines will be announced at

You can see excerpts of the winners’ work here:

Senior Managing Editor

Bill O’Sullivan is senior managing editor; from 1999 to 2007, he was a features editor. In another lifetime, he was assistant managing editor. Somewhere in the middle, he was managing editor of Common Boundary magazine and senior editor at the Center for Public Integrity. His personal essays have been cited three times among the notable essays of the year in The Best American Essays. He teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.