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Planetarium Nears Fundraising Deadline

by ARLnow.com June 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm 2,618 25 Comments

The group that has been raising money for upgrades to Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium has just 34 hours to gather nearly $30,000 in donations.

Last year, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy set June 30, 2011 as the date by which planetarium supporters had to raise $402,800 to pay for necessary upgrades to the 40-year-old facility. If the deadline was not met, the school system would close the planetarium and use it as classroom space — as Dr. Murphy originally proposed before supporters successfully lobbied the School Board to find a way to save the planetarium.

A non-profit entity called the Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium was formed to raise the money for the upgrades. As of last night, they had collected some $371,000 in donations. ‘Friends’ President Alice Monet says she expects donors big and small to come through over the next day and a half.

“The community really wants to see this planetarium stick around,” she said. “We anticipate donations continuing to flow in… At the end of the day we will have full amount in hand.”

Monet admitted, however, that it’s unlikely the school system would shutter the planetarium at this point, even if the group misses its fundraising goal.

“Honestly, the point has been made already that Arlington supports the planetarium,” she said. “If we don’t make it, we’ll keep working until we do.”

Once the capital campaign is complete, Monet said, the Friends organization will shift from a fundraising role to an advisory role regarding the planetarium’s upgrades and on-going operations.

  • clearlynotperceptive

    Lived in Arlington for 12 years. Never seen this. Where is it?

    No, I don’t live under a rock.

    • CrystalMikey

      1426 N. Quincy Street

      • PhilL

        Right under the noses of the School Board.

    • wat

      Right next to Washington-Lee

  • SustainableArlington

    You’ll love this. On June 15th a concert was held a Washington Lee to support the Planetarium. The Children’s Spanish Chorus of Arlington (an APS program) debuted and performed a program about constellations from the Southern Hemisphere. A former Astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld spoke. Aside from the performers parents the theatre almost empty was empty. Sadly the parents, teachers, students who would have really appreciated the potential of the planetarium were not informed by the county or the school board. This event was to support the school systems own planetarium and they could not even post it on their website. The fundraising effort could be finished right now. 600 empty seats. What an embarrassment. So much for STEM education.

    • CrystalMikey

      Those organizers should have contacted this site. Would have at least got a couple bodies in those chairs.

      • Arlingtonian

        Yes, my thoughts exactly. I would’ve loved to see that program.

      • SustainableArlington

        We did. Sadly if you don’t have the money to advertise good news is hard to get out.

    • really?

      The County should have advertised this? Sorry, you need to learn the basics of how Arlington works. The County is the County and APS is APS. The County has nothing to do with school issues (funding, advertising, direction, etc.). They may talk occasionally, but neither has real infulence (or knowledge!) of the other.
      Think of it kinda like Arlington and DC—separate entities.

      In the long run, anyway, it is up to the fundraising group to promote itself (and I am a repeat donor myself). Now, if each poster here would donate $5, that would be putting your money where your mouth is. I’ll be giving again, myself.

    • Louise

      Not every APS teacher is interested in having our already-limited budget go towards extra programs like the planetarium (especially when we have access to an amazing planetarium just over the river).

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    I hope that someday the Planetarium, Lubber Run and Gulf Branch can be once again self-funded and that the political patronage of Neighborhood Conservation and Traffic Calming are the ones who have to hold the bake sales.

    How embarrassing this has been.

    • PikerShorts

      Wait what is wrong with Nature Centers and Community Centers? Are the only things that tax money should be used for are roads, public safety and schools?

      • Southie

        You forgot the bicycle lanes….big lobby there. Didn’t they get 1+M in revenue from the car decals?

      • PhilL

        I think they meant that the Planetarium etc would be fully funded by the budget, not by grass roots groups.

      • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

        exactly. the cultural things in the County should have a higher priority in our progressive policies.
        Traffic Calming and Neighborhood Conservation are important too, but generally self-indulgent activities for all involved.

  • SustainableArlington

    All fine points, but if you have access to parents, students and teachers and you are promoters of EDUCATION it benefits everyone and costs nothing to show support. Is it better to spend the money on advertising then to promote within? This was a bilingual program too. The bottom line is that the whole issue is an embarrassment to the schools system and if not for the good natured people working to support the planetarium the program all its potential would have been lost. If you are going to ask the taxpayers repeatedly for money for the schools, have to good sense to support and maintain your current assets. We should be past the begging phase in onto the renovation. And yes I am a donor, But I was before I wrote my check to the friends of the planetarium, because I pay my taxes.

  • SustainableArlington

    Go to the Arlington Public School wedsite. Do you see anything about the cause.uuuhh No.

  • NOVApologist

    Has this place considered running the latenight laser shows simulcast to Dark Side of the Moon? Set up a concession stand with froyo, cupcakes and pizza and you will see some serious cashflow from the local stoner population.

    • b0rk

      I would actually be all over this. That could be a lot of fun!

      • R.Griffon


  • BallstonDweller

    I love the Planetarium. Couldn’t get home early enough for that event, though. Too bad. And you would think the school itself would have tried harder to get students to come.

    Glad to hear it is so close to meeting the goal.

  • SustainableArlington

    I am sorry you missed it, but there will be more events, there have to be

    And when they do reach their goal and purchase the new equipment, planetarium education will take on whole new meaning. Shows will go beyond the stars, into the human body and even inside the Hadron Collider. Even more exciting for our multicultural population, shows will be offered in mandarin chinese, arabic and spanish, making it a place where people who speak other languages and students who are learning can explore a new way to study language and science. I saw the demo, it was remarkable!
    I am sure we will see school and county officials at the ribbon cutting.

  • LIAM

    the County needs to step in and write the $30,000 check to cover the balance. They waste more than that probably everyday. Those idiots wanted to spend $250,000 to fund a study on how much it would cost to renovate the Lubber Run Amphitheater. It probably only needed about $100,000 in renovations for a new stage, but they were going to spend 2 1/2 times as much to study it. Finally, they decided just to renovate what was needed. I’m sure they can stroke a check for the balance needed for the Planetarium. They should reallocate the funds from that money pit called the Artisphere.

  • PotentialSlacker

    After reading this article, my wife and I took a walk over there yesterday afternoon – closed for summer.

    Too bad because I brough some money to donate.

    Guess somebody should have pushed the panicked button earlier…kinda hard to raise money for a place that isn’t in operation.

    The “stoner” idea isn’t bad because it’s in the right direction. Their normal offering just don’t seem to cut-it, so trying something new (like the LHC and human body topics) and also something for the youth to do fri and saturday nights sound like the new kind of thinking that’s needed.


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