Big Bash for Artisphere’s First Birthday

by Katie Pyzyk October 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm 3,695 25 Comments

Drinks, DJs playing dance music and a specially commissioned piece of video art aren’t necessarily things you’d expect to see at a one-year-old’s birthday party. Unless, of course, that one-year-old is Rosslyn’s own Artisphere.

The art space and venue has seen its share of trouble during its year in existence. There was no restaurant on site for the first seven months, the executive director didn’t start until three months after opening, and both attendance and revenue were low.

But earlier this year, Artisphere revamped its business plan. Staff say it has taken a little longer to get there, but things appear to be back on track.  The hope is that the birthday bash will introduce new patrons to the venue and what it offers.

“The 1 Party” kicks off tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. with DJs and a commissioned lighting of Artisphere’s dome by local artist Brian Stansfield. There will also be a live variety show and an interactive mural creation.

On Sunday, the whole family is welcome to check out Artisphere’s free open house from noon to 6:00 p.m. Attendees can take part in hands-on art activities, salsa lessons and face painting, as well as getting a look at performance art. Of course, there will be birthday cake for everyone who attends the celebration.

Tickets to Saturday night’s party range from $15-$30. Click here to sign up for tickets.

Disclosure: Artisphere is currently an ARLnow.com advertiser.

  • PhartisFear

    OMG, I get the first comment!

    OK, we all know this is a failure. But why? How is it that small venues like the State Theater and the Birchmere can prosper, while this thing is gasping for breath? Do the booking agents not know about it? Is there something about its physical layout that makes it unusable but for hippy-dippy performance artists?

    • Rick

      Arlington doesnt want the element of society that shows up to Legwarmers concerts, despite the fact most of the crowd resided here

  • Chris M.

    “Staff say it has taken a little longer to get there, but things appear to be back on track.”

    They are back on track because they have a restaurant and an ED???? For the enormous amount of money that is being spent/wasted, I would hope that could be backed up with a bit more substance.

  • Rosslynite

    They got themselves some brass balls to even consider charging for this event. The over/under is 60 and I am taking under.

  • V Dizzle

    Actually, if you read the event description, it sounds really interesting. Would go if I didn’t already have plans. I guess I hope it succeeds.

  • iPost-it

    Can someone give me a run down about this place. I am relatively new to the area (4 months or so) and everytime I read comments on here regarding this place they are overwelmingly negative.

    Explanation please? On first glance it seems like a cool place?

    • Thes

      You should go visit and report back.

      • BlueSkies

        Just to be contrary to all the ArlNow bashing (and because I haven’t been there yet), I’m going to go to this and see what I think.

    • Me

      People soured on the Artisphere because the County dumped a ton of money into it at the same time they were cutting services that were actually used by the community.

      Then after the Artisphere had been open awhile, the County admitted it had severely overestimated the number of people that would visit the facility, the costs of running it, and the money it would bring in.

      The result is that it is burning through money while not many members of the community are actually visiting.

      …And it’s not like a lot of people didn’t initially point out the problem of opening a huge arts museum this close to everything already offered in DC.

    • JS

      The crotchety right wingers that frequent ARLnow love to rail against this place as being a ‘boondoggle’ and a waste of taxpayer money. Ignore them; you’ll see that this is an interesting and worthy use of public funds.

      • Ad hominem?

        Can you disprove the assertion that this project has consumed large amounts of money and does not attract much attendance?

        Sure, there are one or two crotchety rightwingers here. But I’m a registered Democrat, like most Arlingtonians and probably most commenters here.

        Artisphere is a colossal bust. Of all the services residents expect a municipal government to provide–esp. in a recession–operating a performance venue isn’t one of them. Operating a million-dollar, failing performance venue that continues to drain money from the County coffers is definitely not something we want.

      • Rick

        “Interesting” is not a good term to describe investments using tax dollars.

      • anya

        I can out liberal any reader here but I still think the artisphere is a HUGE waste of our limited resources

      • Charlie

        Just because we don’t tow the party Line doesn’t make us crotchedy, old or right wingers. I’m tired of the drunken sailorspending spre that we are on.

      • Rosslynite

        I am about as left wing as you come, but in a region replete wirth free museums of exceptional quality, I do not see how Arlington expects to make a go of a pay museum with mediocre art. This ain’t no Phillips Gallery.

    • Ed

      As opposed to all the other positive, mature comments you read on other posts on this blog??

    • V Dizzle

      People on here complain about everything, even if they really had no opinion prior to reading the articles. Most have never been to the Artisphere and have more of a general problem with the County government itself, and this is used as a manifestation of the ills in our society. In short, draw your own opinions and don’t take this forum to be representative of most Arlintonians.

      • RosRes


  • Burger

    Well, there is nothing like throwing good money after bad.

  • Chris

    One art please.

  • NoVapologist

    DC Record Fair @ Artisphere Sunday 10/23

  • TuesdaysChild

    On the bright side, the free cake may lure the bums out of Courthouse and Clarendon for a few hours. Maybe they will stay for the salsa dancing.

    • Ed

      iPost-it: case in point, here.

  • NoVapologist

    They need to get some sponsorship. Get some dough from Michael Landrum and re-name it Ray’s the Art Space or something.

  • Toneman31

    The biggest problem I’ve found is that the cafe/bar are only open for the working hours crowd. I live in Rosslyn and would love to use it as a place to spend some time, but it’s never open when people are actually home in Rosslyn.


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