The Board discussed the matter in a closed session before unanimously approving it. According to County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac, it is standard procedure for the Board to discuss a grant behind closed doors. The grant agreement will be made public once the county attorney finalizes it.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the grant will help bring the theater current with real estate taxes owed to the county. Funding for the grant was provided from budget savings identified at the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
The Arlington County Department of Management and Finance indicates the grant includes around $85,000 for past due real estate and business tangible taxes, $99,000 for the next two payments of real estate taxes and around $30,000 for the next business tangible tax payment. The remaining $35,000 will either help fund a financial consultant study or go to future tax payments.
Signature Theatre has sole access rights and branding capability in its current space within a county owned building. It is responsible for the full costs of operating that facility, including real estate and business tangible taxes. Other county supported arts groups performing in county subsidized spaces are not required to pay taxes.
“Signature is thriving, and has a great future ahead of it,” Donnellan said. “This grant addresses an immediate, short-term need by providing temporary relief from a tax burden that is not shared by other supported arts groups.”
The county emphasizes that the theater is a cultural anchor for Shirlington and provides financial benefits to the community. It estimates that more than $150,000 in annual sales and meals taxes can be directly attributed to Signature’s presence in Shirlington.
Signature faced several debt-related lawsuits in Arlington General District Court last year, including claims from Waste Management, Conde Nast Publications and the Delancey at Shirlington Village apartment building. The Waste Management and Conde Nast claims were eventually dismissed. The court ruled in favor of Delancey at Shirlington Village.
County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the Sun Gazette that Signature was delinquent on its real estate and business taxes.
Green Party Outperforms Past Results — By pulling in 12.4 percent of the vote for County Board, Green Party candidate Audrey Clement roughly doubled the percentage of the vote Green candidates have typically received during past County Board races. The question now is can the Greens get that percentage even higher next time by better identifying who is voting for the party’s candidates? [Sun Gazette]
Miss Saigon Coming to Signature Theater — Signature Theater has secured the rights to the well known musical Miss Saigon, and will open its 2013-2014 season with a version of the production. It will be the first time a theater company in the D.C. area has taken on the show in 15 years. [Variety]
Ballot Wording Angers Aquatics Center Opponents — Voters passed all four bond referenda on the Arlington ballot on Tuesday, including one for a park bond that funds the proposed $79 million Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center. Opponents of the facility, however, say the measure only passed due to vague wording on the ballot which stated that the bond was for “various capital projects for local parks and recreation, and land acquisition for parks and open space.” [Washington Examiner]
ABBIE Voting Ends Today — Today is the final day to cast your votes for Arlington’s best businesses. The businesses in 17 categories were nominated by residents and winners are determined by popular vote. ABBIE winners will be announced at the County Board meeting on November 27.
Disclosure: The ABBIE Awards/Arlington Economic Development is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Free performances will be taking place approximately every 15 minutes on four stages, starting at noon. They feature sneak peeks at some of the upcoming season’s shows, such as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Dreamgirls and Hello, Dolly! The event culminates with a finale concert at 8:30 p.m., scheduled to include both local and Broadway actors, as well as the winner of the “Signature Idol” competition. A list of performers and performance times is available online.
“The open house is a great way to get people acquainted with the new season,” said Signature Theatre publicist Peter Eramo, Jr.
Eramo noted that the open house will be the one day all year that tickets are available for the new season’s shows at a 50 percent discount. There’s no minimum purchase necessary, but the discounted tickets do have to be bought that day at the box office.
The celebration will take over parts of the plaza in the Village at Shirlington. Visitors can enjoy a moon bounce and skee ball, or munch on free snacks like popcorn, sno-cones and cotton candy.
Staff will be on hand at the event to answer questions about the Signature Theatre and the upcoming season.
Moran Marks Anniversary of Va. Tech Massacre — Rep. Jim Moran (D) marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday by calling on Congress to improve gun control laws. “When there are nearly enough guns in the U.S. for every man, woman and child, firearms will find their way into the wrong hands,” Moran said. “Criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill have no business owning deadly weapons.” A student shot and killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007.
Concern About Chicken Doo-Doo — Some residents are concerned that, if enacted, a proposal to allow small-scale backyard hen raising in Arlington would result in extra water pollution. A George Mason University professor says chicken waste from backyard hens in Arlington would ultimately make it into the already environmentally-sensitive Chesapeake Bay. [WAMU]
Hearing About School Board Appointment — A public hearing will be held tonight to discuss the appointment of an interim School Board member to replace now-County Board member Libby Garvey. Sixteen residents have declared themselves interested in the position. [Sun Gazette]
Man Dies After Heart Attack at Pentagon Station — Added at 9:15 a.m. — A 51-year-old Alexandria man died yesterday afternoon after suffering a heart attack at the Pentagon Metro station. Passengers attempted to revive the man, a witness told ARLnow.com, but he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. [Washington Post]
Lawmakers Punishing Arlington for HOT Lanes Suit — Arlington may have succeeded in blocking a state-backed plan to build High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395 last year, but the lawsuit the county filed against the HOT lanes project is coming back to haunt it in Richmond. State lawmakers have proposed budget amendments that would reduce Arlington’s share of road maintenance funds by $100,000 — a form of punishment for the county’s legal tactics. [Washington Times]
Wardian Wins D.C. Marathon — Arlington’s Michael Wardian won the SunTrust Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in the District on Saturday, completing the race with a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 35 seconds. The 37-year-old father of two had previously won the race’s predecessor, the National Marathon, five times. [Competitor]
Sliced Shopper Demands Wi-Fi – A woman has penned an open letter to the Clarendon Trader Joe’s insisting that the store install free public Wi-Fi internet service. The letter writer says the store’s lack of Wi-Fi led her to accidentally slice her finger while cutting avocados at home. [Patch]
Signature Production Connects with Younger Audience — A production at Shirlington’s Signature Theater is accomplishing the difficult feat of connecting with a younger theater-going audience while at the same time shining a critical light on their generation. “Really Really,” by 26-year-old playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo, examines “the self-absorbed mindsets often exhibited by the twentysomething members of ‘Generation Me.’” The show runs through March 25. [Variety]
Older Arlington Residents Give County High Marks — Arlington scored well above the state average in a recent survey of older Virginians. “People over 50 years of age in Arlington say they have a high quality of life, feel safe and secure, and are happy with their access to healthcare services, educational opportunities and recreational activities,” according to a county press release. [Arlington County]
‘Hairspray’ Actor Is Local TV/Radio Personality — Local WETA on-air personality Robery Aubry Davis is playing the role of Edna Turnblad in the Signature Theatre production of ‘Hairspray,’ which opened in Shirlington last week. [Sun Gazette]
Fighting Deer Cause Ruckus — According to an Arlington animal control blotter item, a pair of fighting bucks crashed through a glass patio window in the 3600 block of N. Monroe Street earlier this month. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Changes on Tap at Harry’s in Clarendon — Harry’s Tap Room (2800 Clarendon Blvd) is getting a new name and some new food. Renovations at the Clarendon restaurant are expected to begin later this month. When it reopens three weeks later, it will be re-branded as “Market Tavern” and will have a revised food focus. [Bisnow]
Discount on Signature Theater Tickets — Shirlington’s award-winning Signature Theater is offering 15 percent off tickets at the Signature box office when theater-goers present their library card. Two new Signature productions, A Second Chance and Hairspray, will start next month. [Arlington Public Library]
Housing for the Homeless — This week volunteers canvased the streets of Arlington in an effort to identify the 100 most vulnerable homeless individuals in the county. Part of the 100 Homes campaign, the results of the survey will be used to determine which chronically homeless persons will be moved to permanent housing. Findings from the surveys are being presented today to elected officials and to the public. [Washington Examiner, 100 Homes Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by divaknevil
Grand Opening for Virginia Tech Research Center — The shiny new Virginia Tech Research Center at 900 N. Glebe Road in Ballston will celebrate its grand opening on Friday. Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger, Congressman Jim Moran and County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman are among the scheduled speakers. The seven floor, 144,000 square foot facility boasts next-generation internet connectivity, computational laboratories and multiple meeting and conference spaces.
School Board Asks for Definition of Homework — A proposal before the School Board states that homework should count for no more than 15 percent of a student’s quarterly grade. However, Board members have asked for clarification after learning that certain take-home projects apparently aren’t considered “homework.” Some parents have complained that students are being asked to do too much school work outside of school. [Sun Gazette]
Signature Theater Open House Planned — Returning for another year, Shirlington’s Signature Theater will be holding its “open house” next month, complete with indoor and outdoor performances, master classes and the popular Signature Idol singing competition. The open house is being held from noon to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. [Signature Theater]
Storms Rip Through Area — A line of strong storms ripped through the area in the pre-dawn hours this morning. Winds in excess of 60 miles per hour were observed as the fast-moving storms passed by around 4:30 a.m. A tornado warning was issued for the region, but Arlington was spared from the worst of the storm damage. Expect showers, gusty winds and colder temperatures for the rest of the morning. [Washington Post]
Tejada Plans Ballston Rally — County board member Walter Tejada kicked off his re-election campaign over the weekend at the Dominion Hills Recreation Center. Tejada lauded the county’s commitments to affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, and fiscal responsibility. He is now planning a rally in Ballston tomorrow — no word yet on when or where exactly the rally will take place. (Update at 12:20 p.m. — The rally will be held outside the NRECA building at 4301 Wilson Blvd at 6:30 p.m., prior to the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.)
New Signature Theatre Line-Up Announced – Signature Theatre’s upcoming 2011-2012 season schedule has been revealed. Among the shows planned are The Hollow, based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Hairspray, the 2003 Tony Award winner for best musical; Brother Russia, a rock musical about a “comically fourth-rate Russian theatre troupe;” and Xanadu, based on the 1980 cult film starring Olivia Newton-John. [Signature Theatre]
Clint Eastwood and Crew Drop By Arlington Home — Last week crews were busy scurrying about North Arlington filming scenes for the Leo DiCaprio-headlined production of ‘J. Edgar.’ Among the locations where filming took place was kitchen of one family’s house. DiCaprio, director Clint Eastwood and dozens of crew members took over the Rasmussen family’s home to film one scene for the movie. [Washington Post]
Earmark Could Save Planetarium — Rep. Jim Moran says he’s going to try to dig up $400,000 in federal funds to help renovate and save Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium. But even if he’s successful, Moran’s press secretary says the money would not be available until late next year — past the fundraising deadline the school board set for the non-profit Friends of the Planetarium group. More from the Sun Gazette.
Golf Farce Premieres at Signature Theater — Now playing at Shirlington’s Signature Theater: A Fox on the Fairway. The show, which is making its world premiere at Signature, is a “screwball comedy” and “a tribute… to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s.” Starring Jeff McCarthy, Holly Twyford and Andrew Long, A Fox on the Fairway is “about love, life, and man’s eternal love affair with… golf.” See a video promo here.
Sushi Rock Applying for Dance Hall Permit — Sushi Rock wants to become a late night party spot. But it also wants to “keep the volume to a reasonable level,” which means lots of sound-proofing material. The county board is expected to decide whether to grant Sushi Rock a live entertainment and dance hall permit at its upcoming round of meetings — either Saturday or Tuesday. More from TBD.
Back to School — The nearly 21,000 students enrolled in Arlington Public Schools are returning to class today. Watch out for school buses on the roads this morning.
Arlington Parents Like Their Kid’s School, Teachers – On Friday, we reported that a survey conducted on behalf of Arlington Public Schools found that parents were very much opposed to redrawing school boundaries. Now comes more evidence that parents of APS students are happy with their kid’s current school. Asked to grade their child’s school, teachers, and quality of education, parents gave each a 4.4 out of 5 on average. More from the Sun Gazette.
Arlington-Based Rosetta Stone Disappoints Investors – Language education software maker Rosetta Stone, which has its corporate headquarters in Arlington, has struggled through executive departures and weak sales this year. The company hopes to turn that around with a new product, to be launched next week. More from Business Week.
Enthusiastic Review for ‘Chess’ – Signature Theater’s production of Chess, which was inspired by a much-hyped 1972 chess match between American Bobby Fischer and the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky, might not sound too exciting at first. But add a rock soundtrack, energetic performances and (of course) a love story, and Chess “sizzles,” according to theater critic Terry Ponick at washingtontimes.com. The Shirlington-based production runs through October 3.
New Bike Lane in Courthouse — Cyclists now have a safer way to get to Courthouse from North Rhodes Street (and vice-versa). The Ode Street Tribune reports that a bike lane has been added to 15th Street.
Shirlington’s Signature Theater has launched a contest to find the next “Signature Idol.”
The Tony Award-winning theater is looking for ten talented solo singers to compete on July 17 as part of its Target Open House. The contest will be judged by Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer, Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks, and “a special Broadway guest.”
If you think you have the talent and nerve to belt out a Broadway song in front of nearly 300 strangers and a panel of expert judges, you’ll first have to submit a video to Signature by July 5. Here are the instructions:
The music must be a Broadway song. Applicants can either upload a video to YouTube and send Signature the link at email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> or send in a videotape to Signature Theatre, Attn: Signature Idol, 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206. Anyone who has previously sung on a Signature stage is ineligible to audition.
Confused? A handy video explanation of the competition is after the jump.