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Artisphere Visitor Revenue 75 Percent Below Expectations

Thanks to various delays and lower-than-expected demand, Artisphere will fall well short of its initially projected ticket and admission revenue for FY 2011.

In a presentation to the county board yesterday, county staff revealed that Artisphere admission and ticket income is projected at $174,202 for the financial year ending on June 30, 75 percent below the $789,912 in revenue that planners expected.

The shortfall was first reported in the Sun Gazette Editor’s Notebook blog.

Located in Rosslyn, Artisphere opened on Oct. 10 as the county’s premier arts and entertainment venue. The county originally expected Artisphere would attract 250,000 annual visitors. Since opening, it has attracted 48,169 visitors.

Artisphere’s online ticketing service didn’t launch until January and its restaurant is only expected to open next week — two factors that staff says has negatively impacted revenue and attendance figures.

Due to the ticket and admission discrepancy and other revenue shortfalls, Artisphere will fall $809,477 short of meeting its budget goals this year. With staff not recommending any spending cuts at Artishere, the shortfall will likely be paid by Arlington County taxpayers. The county had already allocated more than $700,000 in funding for Artisphere during FY 2011, while the Rosslyn Business Improvement Corporation allocated more than $600,000.

For FY 2012, staff is projecting that admission and ticketing revenue will fall $455,000 short of original expectations, while expenses will be $462,000 higher than expectations. One bright spot is fundraising, which is now expected to come in at $200,000 above projections. All told, staff expects Artisphere will need another $791,1356 in taxpayer support above and beyond the County Manager’s proposed FY 2012 budget.

County spokeswoman Diana Sun says Artisphere’s budget situation “has everyone’s attention.”

“Artisphere is an important part of the revitalization of Rosslyn,” Sun said. “The County Manager has asked for a revised business plan for Artisphere by summer.”

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