The incident started earlier in the evening as a minor altercation between two students who lived in the same dormitory building. According to police, the suspect in the case – a 20-year-old student — confronted the victim in another student’s dorm room following the altercation.
At one point the suspect shoved the victim, and the victim responded by punching the suspect in the face, possibly breaking his nose, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The suspect then took out a small folding knife and cut the victim across the lower area of the stomach, from the front of his body to his back, exposing his intestines and cutting his pancreas, Sternbeck said.
When police arrived they found a large crowd of people around the victim, who was holding a t-shirt over his stab wound. They also observed someone throwing beer and liquor out of the room where the incident occurred, according to Sternbeck.
The victim was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police found the suspect in a dorm room with his girlfriend. There was blood “all over the room,” Sternbeck said, primarily as a result of his broken nose.
Francis Joseph “Frankie” Maguire, 20, of Burke, Va., was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. He was to be held without bond until his arraignment, scheduled for today. No charges have been filed against the 18-year-old victim at this time.
No word on what the argument between the two men was about. Court records show that Maguire has also been charged with selling drugs on school property and the distribution of marijuana.
After the incident, Marymount’s Director of Campus Safety sent an email to students assuring them that “this was an isolated incident, and there was no danger to the campus community.”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department
An office at 1901 Ft. Myer Drive was raided, as was a townhouse just north of Rosslyn. So far, the FBI Washington Field Office is mum on the details.
“We are serving search warrants at multiple locations in Arlington this morning,” said spokesman Andrew Ames. “There is nothing public at the moment that we can share.”
A source tells ARLnow.com that the FBI was searching offices of the Rosslyn-based University of Management and Technology. The house that was searched is owned by the private university’s academic dean, according to property records.
UMT’s U.S. website was down, but is now working, and a Hong Kong-based website for UMT is still active. The school offers degrees in criminal justice, homeland security, information technology and business administration, among other areas of study. It advertises itself as “military friendly,” and accepts military personnel using the G.I. Bill. The school also accepts foreign students using F-1 visas and sponsored J-1 visa international exchange students.
According to a U.S. Department of Commerce web page, UMT has “deep roots in the Federal sector” and academic dean Dr. J. Davidson Frame is a “world-class leader in project and acquisition management.”
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene outside the Ballston Common Mall for a report of a man who fell about 30 feet from the Ballston public parking garage.
The incident happened on the Glebe Road side of the parking garage, near the intersection with Carlin Springs Road. The victim is described by police as a 40-year-old white male.
Witnesses saw the man dangling from the first level of the parking garage, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police were called, but the man fell before they arrived on scene. He suffered a traumatic head injury and was rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital, Sternbeck said.
According to Sternbeck, the man was involved in a hit-and-run accident on the G-4 level of the parking garage today. Investigators believe he was attempting to flee the scene when he climbed onto the ledge of the garage, but he didn’t realize how high up he was until it was too late. Sternbeck said police and paramedics have had “frequent contact” with the man in the past for alcohol-related incidents.
Police have closed down the sidewalk and blocked two out of three northbound lanes of Glebe Road while they continue to investigate.
The crew was digging in the area of Carlin Springs Road and N. Kensington Street, near the W&OD Trail, when they discovered eight PVC pipes labeled “ammunition.”
The county’s bomb squad investigated the contents of the pipes and didn’t find any hazards, according to Arlington police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The pipes were about four feet long and contained rifle ammunition, Sternbeck said Thursday morning.
Police cordoned off the area around the pipes but there were no traffic diversions.
The find comes just over a year after VDOT contractors found PVC pipes full of guns buried along Patrick Henry Drive, leading to an FBI investigation. The suspect in that case, Cherrydale resident Rodney Gunsauley, pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this year to 40 months in prison.
Sternbeck said the pipes “appear to be related” to the Gunsauley case, but the FBI is continuing to investigate the incident. The Joint Terrorism Task Force was also notified of the investigation, he said.
Gunsauley buried items in multiple locations and likely couldn’t remember all of the locations where he hid his weapons and ammo, Sternbeck said.
All classes and activities have been canceled Monday at Arlington Public Schools in advance of the storm, which is now expected to drop 5 to 10 inches of rain and pack wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour between tonight and Tuesday.
Metro has suspended all rail, bus and MetroAccess service starting Monday. Service will remain suspended “until further notice.” ART bus service has also been suspended Monday.
Many flights departing out of and arriving at Reagan National Airport on Monday have been canceled, according to the airport’s Twitter account, although the airport itself will remain open.
Federal government offices will be closed Monday, and non-emergency employees are being granted excused absences.
Arlington courts, libraries, community centers and government offices will be closed Monday. Trash and recycling collection in Arlington has been suspended on Monday and Tuesday. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, meanwhile, has declared a state of emergency.
From a county press release:
County Manager Barbara Donnellan today signed a Declaration of Local Emergency for Arlington County in response to Hurricane Sandy. The County is activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to manage storm response. The hurricane is projected to impact the Arlington area with heavy rain and damaging winds from late Sunday night through Tuesday night.
This storm is expected to produce rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches in our area, which could cause localized flooding on area streets, low-lying areas, creeks and streams. The County expects significant tree damage, and residents, businesses and visitors should plan for widespread power outages as a result.
What Residents Can Do to Prepare
- Have flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio in case power goes out. Ensure mobile phones are fully charged. (And consider plugging in your old-fashioned land-line phone.)
- Have food that does not need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day. Other important items are a first aid kit, medication, and other supplies.
- Don’t forget your pets and others who may need special assistance, including elderly neighbors.
- With heavy winds expected, ensure outside items in yards and on decks and patios are secure.
- Clean out gutters, storm drains, etc. (keeping drains clear of trash, leaves and branches) so rainwaters can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding. Also rake leaves to cut down on flying debris and prevent clogged storm drains.
- Have a communications plan. Make sure all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
- If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact. If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.
More details on the County website , including who to call after the storm, clean-up tips, handling home damage, and more. We will continue to update this page throughout the storm response; check back for updates or sign up for an RSS feed.
Emergency Winter Shelter Opening
The Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS) at Courthouse will open today, Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3pm and will stay open as long as needed (it normally opens Nov. 1). A-SPAN is conducting outreach to let the homeless population know this resource is available.
Key Phone Numbers
Write these down or print them out so you have then handy in case you lose power.
- Power Outages: Dominion Virginia Power, 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)
- Natural Gas Emergencies: Washington Gas 703-750-1400 or 800-752-7520. If you smell gas, leave and call 9-1-1. Washington Gas Safety Page
- Trees Down : 703-228-6525
- Street Flooding, Water, Sewer and Storm-sewer: 703-228-6555 (emergency hotline)
(Note: During high rains, call volume is often greater than normal. Operators will respond to your call as soon as they can.)
- Traffic Signal Outages: 703-228-6511
Dominion Power Update
Dominion is currently expecting significant impact from the effects of Hurricane Sandy for much of their service territory. Their Northwest Regional Storm Center is regularly providing updates to government Emergency Operation Center (EOCs) in the region. Other news from Dominion:
- Dominion will open its Northwest Regional Storm Center at 6AM Monday October 29.
- 8,800 medical condition customers have been contacted via automated calling feature, in preparation of Hurricane Sandy, with the following message: This is an important message from Dominion. In advance of Hurricane Sandy, customers with medical needs should make preparations for extended outages. Participation in the medical needs program does not mean that you will be the first to have power restored. Please make an emergency plan for backup power or arrangements to relocate until power can be restored to your home. Thank you.
- They are working to secure additional resources to complement line, patrol and support teams.
- Additional tree crews are on hand to assist with restoration efforts.
Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Friday.
Utilities and transit agencies are also preparing for the storm. Dominion says its crews, and mutual aid crews called in from out of state, are standing by to restore power following the storm. The company is warning of the potential for “prolonged power outages,” however.
“When customers lose their electric service during a major storm, their primary question is when their electricity will be restored,” said Dominion rep Rodney Blevins. “They expect our bucket trucks and line crews to be in the field as soon as the storm ends, or sooner, but strong winds may make working conditions too risky to proceed while the storm lingers.”
Although service will be suspended after Sunday night, WMATA says it has been testing drainage pumping stations and has been placing sandbags at Metro entrances in preparation for heavy rains.
“Customers are strongly encouraged to check wmata.com before traveling and to sign up for MetroAlerts to receive service information via email or text message,” the agency said via its web site. “During severe weather, customers are advised to travel only if absolutely necessary.”
Arlington County has compiled a list of phone numbers and storm clean-up tips residents can use to check on power outages, to report downed trees and wires, and to deal with water damage. Those seeking critical assistance — like food, shelter or other aid — can also call 2-1-1, a central hotline for human service agencies in the D.C. area. Tips for keeping pets safe in a storm are available online from FEMA.
Photo (top) courtesy @JoePraino
Update on 10/25/12 — Police have opened a criminal investigation into the video.
Patrick Moran, the son of 11-term incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), has resigned from his father’s campaign following the release of a video (above) that purports to show him going along with a scheme to commit voter fraud.
In the video, Moran, who worked as the campaign’s field director, is approached in a Courthouse eatery by an undercover videographer who discusses an idea for trying to fraudulently vote on behalf of 100 people on the voter rolls. The video then shows Moran seemingly suggesting that the man behind the camera forge utility bills to get around Virginia’s voter ID laws.
In a brief statement, the Moran campaign said Patrick Moran had resigned from the campaign.
“Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team,” the campaign said. “This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment. The campaign has accepted Patrick’s resignation, effective immediately.”
The video was released by Project Veritas, a nonprofit investigative group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, of ACORN video fame. Project Veritas’ stated mission is to “investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
The campaign of Patrick Murray, Moran’s Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election, issued a statement expressing “concern” about the Moran campaign’s activities.
After seeing this video on several news sites, I am very concerned about the campaign activities of my opponent. While it is not clear whether or not there was any wrongdoing, I hope that local, state and federal election officials will look into this matter immediately.
The integrity of our nation is at stake, and it appears that my opponent’s campaign seems prepared to undermine free and fair elections right here in Virginia.
Sadly, anyone who is familiar with Jim Moran will not be surprised by this. The truth is that Moran has a long track record of hyper partisan behavior, racially charged comments and an infamous anger management problem. So this is more of the same embarrassing behavior that we’ve come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign.
In a statement issued to the Democratic blog Blue Virginia, the Arlington County Democratic Committee said it has asked Patrick Moran to not return to the party’s office in Courthouse. Part of the undercover video was filmed in the office.
Arlington Democrats condemn any form of voter fraud. Any allegations that such conduct has been condoned – especially in Arlington – is something we take very seriously. We are concerned by the apparent remarks of Pat Moran in the hidden-camera video arranged by Mr. O’Keefe. While we do yet not know Pat Moran’s response to the video and Mr. O’Keefe’s allegations, we understand that Pat Moran has resigned from the Moran campaign, and we have asked him not to return to our offices. The Arlington Democrats are committed to making sure that all voters have a full and fair ability to cast their votes in accordance with applicable laws, and that commitment will not change.
The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans, meanwhile, denounced what it termed “attempted Democrat campaign voter fraud.”
“This is an outrageous blow to the integrity of our electoral process,” said Matthew Burrow, Chairman of the organization. “Patrick Moran should have immediately denounced and reported any attempt to subvert the election process. Instead, he encouraged and even advised this individual on how to illegally cast ballots for other people. This level of corruption cannot stand.”
The release of the video comes on the heels of Moran — along with two other Virginia Democratic congressmen — publicly calling for an investigation into allegations of Republican voter fraud in Harrisonburg, Va. Moran repeated his call for investigations into voter fraud in a column published by the Falls Church News-Press this evening.
Update at 11:15 p.m. — Patrick Moran has issued a statement:
In reference to the “O’Keefe” video, at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him.
In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.
In regards to my position on the campaign, I have stepped down because I do not want to be a distraction during this year’s critical election.
Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under former president George W. Bush, is weighing in on the controversy. Fleischer said the Moran video might strengthen the case for laws requiring photo identification to vote.
“From now on, any law requiring photo ID to vote should be know as the Moran Act,” he said via Twitter.
Update at 11:55 p.m. — Independent candidate for Congress Jason Howell has also released a statement.
From the very beginning, our campaign has been about giving my neighbors the opportunity to vote for someone rather than merely against Jim Moran. I was saddened watching video of the apparent sting operation on Patrick. The Moran campaign may now have many distracting, legal and ethical questions to answer. Our campaign is about my generation taking responsibility for the systemic political and economic challenges we face as a country. We must do better. If you elect me on November 6th, a business owner, community volunteer, former accountant and jobs recruiter, we will do better.
A man was stabbed multiple times outside the Pio Pio restaurant at 3300 Wilson Blvd just after 1:30 this afternoon. He was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital in what’s now being described as life-threatening condition, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police say the incident started when the victim, who was working in a nearby office building, spotted a man breaking into his car. The victim gave chase across Wilson Boulevard, and the two men got into a physical altercation outside Pio Pio. During the struggle the suspect took out a knife and stabbed the victim numerous times in the hands, shoulder, front, back and arms, according to Sternbeck.
Blood could be seen splattered on the walls and sidewalk outside of the restaurant.
After the stabbing the suspect took off south on N. Jackson Street, toward the Ashton Heights neighborhood. A police officer was flagged down by a witness at 1:38 p.m., Sternbeck said. Officers set up a perimeter and used a K-9 unit to try to track down the suspect, but police believe he may have stolen a white work van a few blocks away in order to flee the area. Officers are currently looking for the van, Sternbeck said.
The victim is being described as a 31-year-old resident of Montgomery County, Md. The suspect is described by police as a 28 to 32 year old Hispanic male, approximately 5’9″ and 150 lbs. He was wearing a white t-shirt that was likely ripped in the struggle, was well as dark blue jeans.
Warning: Readers might find one of the photos below disturbing.
Initially classified as “suspicious deaths” yesterday, police now say that they believe Arlington resident Keefe Spriggs, 59, and Carl Moten, 31, were murdered inside the apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street.
No weapon was found inside the apartment, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Still, police are not saying whether a killer is on the loose. Instead, Sternbeck says the crime was an “isolated incident” and that local residents should not be worried about further violence.
Spriggs was a divorced father of two who worked in a body shop, WJLA’s Jennifer Donelan reported Wednesday evening. Moten, a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and was staying at his apartment.
Both Spriggs and Moten had criminal records in Arlington, including DWI and eluding police for Spriggs, assault and probation violation for Moten, and possession of cocaine for both. Spriggs’ crimes dated back to 2003, however, and Sternbeck said so far there’s no indication of any other crime taking place inside the apartment other than the two killings.
After going more than two years without a homicide, these murders are the third and fourth homicide in Arlington so far this summer.
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
Police were called after a security guard spotted individuals on the roof. During their investigation, police found that the four adults and three juveniles had climbed onto the roof via a pole on the outside of the school, and proceeded to drink beer on the roof.
The former students, who graduated on Wednesday, June 20, tried to flee the scene. One of the subjects attempted to resist arrest and engaged in a physical altercation with an officer. He was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, but has since been released back into police custody for questioning.
According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, this incident has similarities to one last week on the second floor of the school, which resulted in vandalism. K9 units were brought in to investigate today’s incident, but no vandalism was discovered. The former students are in custody speaking with detectives to see if they have information about last week’s incident. However, Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia says there was no vandalism last week, somebody simply set off a fire extinguisher.
“It’s just a poor decision on their behalf, to bring alcohol onto the school property and drink,” Sternbeck said. “They weren’t here to vandalize the property, they were just here to have a good time, but it was a poor decision making process.”
All the subjects will be charged with trespassing, and the adults will be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
“It’s an unfortunate incident,” said Bellavia. “They made a poor decision.”
It’s unclear if there will be any sort of punishment issued by APS. Bellavia said system officials will have to look into the incident, because the subjects are no longer students.
(Updated at 12:05 a.m.) Police are now clearing the scene at Ballston Common Mall after a phoned-in bomb threat.
Three separate bomb threats were phoned in to authorities: one to Prince George’s County dispatchers, one to Arlington, and one directly to the mall, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. It’s not clear if the threats all were made by the same individual.
Mall security has informed stores of the threat but decided not to evacuate, Sternbeck said. Police officers and two K-9 units searched inside and outside the building but found nothing.
“We want to be very thorough in our sweep and… in deeming it safe,” said Sternbeck during the search. “If we did find something we deemed legitimate we would have the authority to bring everyone out [of the mall].”
Dozens of shoppers and workers on their lunch break could be seen carrying on normal daily business inside the mall during the incident. One lane of Wilson Boulevard was partially blocked by police vehicles outside the mall. As of 11:50 a.m., most of the police response was packing up and starting to clear the scene.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been arrested at a protest outside the Sudanese embassy in Northwest D.C., along with actor George Clooney and several other activists.
Moran’s office confirmed the arrest, which can be seen in this video from NBC Washington.
“Yes, [Rep. Moran] was taken into custody at the Sudan embassy protesting [Sudanese President Omar] al-Bashir’s actions to starve half a million people,” said Anne Hughes, the congressman’s press secretary.
In a press release yesterday afternoon, Moran’s office explained the impetus for the protest: “President al-Bashir has blocked food and humanitarian aid from entering Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions since June 2011, threatening starvation for half a million Sudanese.”
Moran and Clooney were joined at the protest by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.), Martin Luther King III, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and journalist Nick Clooney, the actor’s father, among other activists and religious leaders. See a press release from Moran’s office, about the protest and the arrests, after the jump.
Photo courtesy United to End Genocide
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department has cleared the scene at Reagan National Airport, where it had been assisting Airport Police with a suspicious package.
The bomb squad took x-rays of the package to determine its contents, but nothing dangerous was found.
The package turned up near the economy parking lot, and that lot closed down during the investigation. Most other airport roads and lots remained open, and no flights or terminal operations were affected. There were also no reported traffic backups due to the lot closure.
As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, a suspect in the case, Roger K. Clark III, has pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the case. In a statement of facts entered as part of the guilty plea, prosecutors say robbery was the motive behind the murder — and that Clark wasn’t the only perpetrator.
According to the statement, Clark and his cousin, Javon Martin — then 20 and 24 years of age, respectively — were driving around Arlington County early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009 looking for someone to rob. They encountered Diener, 57, near the intersection of N. 13th Street and N. Hudson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station. It was around 3:00 a.m. and Diener was on his way to a part-time job at a local health club, police said at the time.
During the robbery, prosecutors say, Clark punched Diener and then Martin stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Diener was later found lying on the street by a passerby who called police. Medics arrived on the scene and pronounced him dead. According to the statement of facts, Diener bled to death as a result of the stab wound, which severed two major arteries.
Clark’s DNA was found in several places, according to the statement, including on Diener’s palm and in his pants pocket, where Clark had looked for something to steal following the stabbing. In the end, Clark and Martin made off with Diener’s shoulder bag, according to prosecutors.
Clark’s plea was accepted yesterday afternoon by Circuit Court Judge Joanne F. Alper. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on April 27. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than 25 years in prison.
Martin was arrested in June, two days after Clark was arrested, but ultimately prosecutors decided not to pursue the first degree murder charges against him at the time. The charges were dropped in October, according to court records. Martin is not currently in custody, according to Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, who declined to comment further.
Carl Diener’s sister, Patti Diener Lough, said Clark’s guilty plea is comforting to her family.
“Nothing — not even this guilty plea — can ever bring Carl back to his family and remarkable network of friends and colleagues from so many aspects of his life,” Diener Lough told ARLnow.com via email. “But we are immensely comforted to know that a murderer is in custody and will not be able to hurt another person or family like he shattered ours.”
The five-mile Columbia Pike streetcar line will run from Pentagon City to the Skyline area of Fairfax, and cost between $242 million and $261 million, according to “a new, more detailed analysis.” In 2007, officials pegged the cost at about $161 million.
“Inflation, an increase in the scope of the proposed project, additional engineering requirements, and federal requirements for higher contingency funding and escalation accounted for the increase in projected costs,” the county said in a press release. “The $50 million per-mile cost now estimated for the proposed streetcar project is comparable to the costs of similar projects across the nation.”
Arlington and Fairfax counties are still pushing forward with the streetcar project, which will serve a transportation corridor that’s expected to add 2.2 million square feet of commercial development and 7,300 residents over the next 30 years. Officials are calling the streetcar an “innovative solution” to transportation challenges on Columbia Pike, which is currently only served by bus.
“Clearly, a streetcar-and-bus system is the best solution for people who live and work on the Pike and the people who travel along it between two major employment centers,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “A streetcar will enhance the Pike’s livability, help realize the vision that Arlington and Fairfax have for this vital corridor, and help ensure its long term economic and environmental sustainability.”
Construction on the streetcar line is currently projected to start in 2015, with streetcar service starting in 2017.
A plan to boost the finances of Artisphere, the struggling county-run arts center in Rosslyn, includes dramatic changes to the original vision for the venue.
A revised business plan, which will be presented to the County Board this afternoon, will suggest slashing Artisphere’s hours, shuttering its restaurant and retail store, and generating more revenue via corporate event rentals.
Even if the plan is implemented, however, the task force expects Artisphere to burn through more than $2.3 million in taxpayer funds in financial year 2012 and another $1.6 million in financial year 2013. If the new plan is shelved, Artisphere will require nearly $2.7 million in taxpayer support in FY 2012, the task force said. The one-year-old venue’s original business plan projected only $739,975 in county taxpayer support in FY 2012.
In its report to the Board, the Artisphere Task Force said Artisphere is an attractive venue that benefits from a Metro-accessible location and an experienced management team. But the task force was critical of the lack of focus in the center’s marketing, among other perceived weaknesses.
“Originally billed as an ‘Arts Space for Everyone’, the Artisphere strove to be free from the constraints of a singular vision, performance type or audience,” the task force wrote. “However, the unintended consequence of the individual interpretations that arose from such branding has been confusion over what exactly Artisphere is supposed to be, and for whom.”
The task force also accused Artisphere of practically ignoring families and older adults in its programming.
Artisphere, following the original business plan, has oriented much of its programming to attract a core audience of 20-35 year olds. While Arlington has one of the largest concentrations of 20 to 35 year olds in the nation, and while this demographic — like others who are highly educated, highly paid, and with disposable income — is known for its inclination to patronize the arts, they are faced with multiple options for spending time and money. Given those competing interests, and the somewhat “fickle” nature of this age group, it is very difficult to consistently attract them. Conversely, the 35-45 year olds with families and 55-65 year old empty-nesters, all with heavy populations in Arlington and the Washington, D.C. region have not been a target.
(Current programming at Artisphere includes the “largest collection of hand-crafted harmonica cases in the world” and an interactive exhibit that requires viewers to scan bar codes with their cell phones. The venue named a new programming director in late October.)
In the end, Artisphere has fallen well short of its original attendance projections. As the report noted, the lack of foot traffic is especially pronounced during the day.
“The space has been underutilized for many of its daytime hours,” the task force wrote. “Often, patrons who may enter in the early afternoon hours find the Artisphere extremely quiet and almost deserted. This lack of excitement and vibrancy often discourages return visits.”
To help place Artisphere on a more sustainable path, the task force is recommending several dramatic changes. One of the most pronounced is the proposed change in Artisphere’s hours. Whereas the center is currently open seven days a week, for a total of at least 85 hours per week, the task force wants to slash the days and hours the venue is open to the public. Under the new plan, Artisphere would be closed to the public on Monday and Tuesday, and would only be open for a total of 40 hours Wednesday through Sunday.