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Report Recommends Increased Arts Investment in Arlington

As officials continue trying to stem the tide of red ink at Artisphere, Arlington’s new arts and cultural center, the Arlington Commission for the Arts sees the need for more art venues down the road.

The commission and its consultants have just released a draft copy of “Arlington Arts 2030,” a report that proposes “a long-range strategy for supporting the arts over the next 20 years.”

The report recommends that the county “pro-actively and steadily move… [from] supporting the arts in a manner appropriate for a suburban community to one of building the arts to support the growing urban community that Arlington is today.” To that end, the report recommends increased investment in the arts, art facilities and the artists themselves.

Among the draft recommendations:

  • Offer low cost or affordable housing specifically for use by artists
  • New “public arts spaces” in Crystal City, Shirlington and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor
  • Public funding (both bonds and “pay go”) to supplement funds from developers to help build already-proposed projects like a black box theater in Virginia Square, a replacement theater for the 1960s-era Spectrum Theater in Rosslyn and a new cultural center at Courthouse Plaza
  • A new, dedicated facility for dance performances
  • An outdoor amphitheater in the Shirlington/Four Mile Run area
  • Increase the annual art grant budget from approximately $250,000 to $350,000 over five years
  • Set aside 2 percent of the county’s Capital Improvement Program budget for public art projects
  • Spin off the county’s art-centric Cultural Affairs division (currently funded at $2.15 million per year) as its own department, separate from the Parks Department
  • Increase the Cultural Affairs marketing budget and emphasize Arlington as a “cultural destination”

Two hearings will be held to gather public input on the report. The first will be held at Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) from noon to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. The second will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13, at the Shirlington Public Library (4200 Campbell Avenue).

Currently, according to county officials, there are ten individual, publicly-accessible theaters in Arlington, each of which receives some sort of county support. That’s in addition to one county-run outdoor amphitheater. There are also 15 individual visual arts galleries in Arlington, six of which are managed or curated by the Cultural Affairs Division. Two of the theaters and three of the galleries are within Artisphere.

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