The District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities was founded in 1968 and is a partner with the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. In 2003, District arts organizations received $3,454,260 in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Humanities Council of Washington, D.C., was established in 1980 and awards about $125,000 each year to support local programs. In 2000, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $3,499,044 for 30 programs within the District.
Recent by the National Endowment for the Humanities include $400,000 to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., for community educational programs and exhibits, humanities fellowships of $149,565 to the American Councils for International Education in 2002, and $378,000 to the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2003. The Humanities Council of Washington, D.C., presents Humanities Salons throughout the year that feature distinguished guest speakers, films, and discussions related to the humanities.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, officially opened on 8 September 1971, is the District's principal performing arts center. Its five main halls—the Opera House, Concert Hall, Eisenhower Theater, Terrace Theatre, and American Film Institute Theater—display gifts from at least 30 foreign governments, ranging from stage curtains and tapestries to sculptures and crystal chandeliers. Major theatrical productions are also presented at the Arena Stage-Kreeger Theater, National Theatre, Folger Theatre, and Ford's Theatre. Rep, Inc. is one of the few professional black theatres in the US; the New Playwrights' Theatre of Washington is a nonprofit group presenting new plays by American dramatists.
The District's leading symphony is the National Symphony Orchestra, which performs from October through April at the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center. On a smaller scale, the Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, and Library of Congress offer concerts and recitals. The Washington Opera performs at the Kennedy Center's Opera House.
During the summer months, the Carter Barron Amphitheater presents popular music and jazz. Concerts featuring the US Army, US Navy, and US Marine Corps bands, and the Air Force Symphony Orchestra are held throughout the District.