62°Partly Cloudy

Programming Director Leaving Artisphere

by Katie Pyzyk April 18, 2012 at 9:40 am 6,805 75 Comments

After only six months on the job, Artisphere’s programming director has decided to leave.

Rosanna Ruscetti joined the struggling venue in October, and was seen as someone who could help stabilize it. Just this year, Artisphere received accolades for its exhibit featuring famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Prior to working at Artisphere, Ruscetti had served as a programmer at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium for 18 years. She had also been a consultant for arts programming and business development.

Ruscetti will be leaving for family reasons, we’re told.

According to a job posting, the new program director will have to plan performances and exhibits, negotiate contracts, and develop and manage a $500,000 budget. The position has a pay range of $53,580 to $88,545 annually.

  • ResponsibleDemocrat


  • KalashniKEV

    Like rats from a sinking ship.

  • Transplant

    I think I might apply before the gravy train comes to a halt. Vote for me if you want an unsustainable, interactive Bacon & BBQ exhibit!

    • Elmer

      You’re hired. Its obvious you have discovered the secret which is to give away free food- what really accounted for the “big turn out” at the photo exhibit.

      • SoMuchForSubtlety

        Seriously? Oh yea, because Frida Kahlo could never be a draw.

      • Teyo

        There was free food? When I went, food and drink was forbidden (I had a cup from Baja Fresh I had to throw out) and there were lots of people looking at pictures…

        • Elmer

          The food was on the first floor.

        • SouthPikeGuy

          The food they provided was the only thing that distinguished that exhibit experience from the Bataan death march. Looked like a bunch of people who just drug themselves out to Artisphere as a last gasp to save a doomed enterprise. Most people I saw were not even paying attention to the exhibit itself.

  • novasteve

    Keep voting with the name with the (D) after it and keep on expecting different results.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      Actually, I keep voting for D’s because I want similar results.

    • Josh S

      Keep on making the same statements here in the comments and keep on annoying the heck out of everyone…..

      • Stitch_Jones

        Repetition of the truth or of an argument does not invalidate it. Annoying opponents of an argument does not invalidate the argument.

        An effective conter-argument dealing with the facts and premises of the argument that you disagree with may serve a better purpose then snark.

        • Thes

          What was the argument and counter-argument here? One guy said Democrats will support arts venues. Another guy agreed. So, between them they have one (undisputed) fact. One guy likes such things and another one doesn’t. Those are opinions. I didn’t see any arguments.

          Like the majority of Arlingtonians, I also am in favor of government supported arts programming. I agree that Democrats are more likely to do this than Republicans.

          I do wish the County Manager implemented such programs with greater effectiveness, however. Too much trust gets placed in staff without proper training or imagination.

          • DL

            I’m agree with Thes.

            And I wish you snarky jerks would find somewhere else to rant.

          • Strunk and White

            “I’m agree with Thes”

            That somehow does not surprise me…..

        • thelevyisdry

          Honestly, I’m here for the snark, rather than cogent discourse. Oh, and local news … wouldn’t want to forget that.

        • P. Monroe

          1. “Counter-argument” and 2. “than”

          C’mon, man. How long have you been doing this?

      • Always Right

        Not me. Novasteve is the Best!

  • Brick

    thats a huge pay range for 1 position. wtf

    • Josh S

      Actually, in keeping with the government practice of going to pay bands. Some of them are pretty wide.

  • BreakPause02

    Close it, sell it, do something to stop the bleeding. Then maybe the CB won’t raise our taxes.

    • Plunkitt

      Then maybe the CB won’t raise our taxes.”

      Fat chance of that.

    • Josh S

      You really think that the Artisphere’s budget makes up such a large portion of county expenditures that it requires a tax raise?

  • Tabs

    Lisner, not Linser.

  • Richard Cranium

    Will all those surprised by this turn of events please make yourselves heard now.

    Hello? Anyone? Anyone?


  • Stitch_Jones

    The faster this finishes failing, the better.

    • question

      thankyou for pointing out that failure is bad…..specialist subject the bleeding obvious!

  • question

    what would all you Artisphere haters do with this obscure weird shaped building that was somehow left to the county after the Freedom Forum couldn’t make it work as a Newseum?

    • JamesE

      Give it away to Dr. Dremos

      • OldTimer

        Yes! I can taste the Artisphere Ale already.

    • One Percent

      School for well-rounded children. The schools need more capacity.

      • question

        yes they would need to be round

    • nom de guerre

      Additional location for Sam’s Corner.

      • question

        I like the irony in a building with no corners…..but when would they be open?

        • nom de guerre

          Check with Karzai. I understand he is now handling all public relations for Sam’s Corner.

    • Stitch_Jones

      Even with a lack of any better idea, it still makes no sense to subsidize a failing “enterprise” with our tax dollars.

      It is a bust. Deflecting criticism does not change that.

      • question

        so do what…make it a coyote reserve?

      • picasso

        We should also shut down the public library ‘enterprise’. Im tired of wasting tax dollars on programs that try to educate and add culture to my community.

        Thats $0.000497 per tax dollar wasted. Based the taxes I paid, I could have used that money to *almost* buy a matinee ticket at the Ballston theater.

        Dont get me started on all that public education we’re giving away for free… what a terrible business model.

    • Patrick

      The Artisphere was not “somehow left to the county”. The CB forced a developer to give them the artishpere in exchange for approving another development.

      • ResponsibleDemocrat

        Technically, the developer only “gave” Arlington a rent-free lease of the building. The building did not change hands.

        Related, it was just announced yesterday that this same developer is being let off the hook for a large number of improvements planned for the Rosslyn Metro station. Another case where they received bonus density in exchange for a paltry money donation for public improvements. The list of improvements was so far above the actual payment that virtually everything got scrapped and the county has to pick up the balance. Hopefully ArlNow will have a story on that.

        • cranky crankypants

          Yes, please!

    • Richard Cranium

      “They” should “put” a Wegmans there.

      • question

        best idea yet….but parking could be a problem

    • .T-G.E.O.A

      Homeless shelter

    • Yahaha

      Blow it up and film it for a scene in a spectacular disaster movie: “Newseartispocalypse Then”

  • Arlington Arts

    Whether or not the Artisphere ultimately survives, why not take advantage of some of the good things going on there now. Like UrbanArias’ second acclaimed contemporary opera festival. See http://www.urbanarias.org for details.

    I know the Artisphere is a regular punching bag on ArlNow, but many of the arts groups that use it and other community venues really are worth your time and support.

    • Stitch_Jones

      You saying that they are worth it does not make it so.

      • Josh S

        And you implying that they are not worth it carries no more weight.

        So where does that leave us?

        • Dan

          “So where does that leave us?”

          Rossyln ???

    • Elmer

      Well, Thank you for allowing me to decide what’s worth my time and support. I was under the impression that money was being taken out of my pocket to support the Artisphere.

  • LizViz

    I’ve gone to the Artisphere several times and have taken the kids. I think it has a great mix of events and I’m glad it is there. I’ll take Artisphere over trolley cars any day.

    • novasteve

      How about neither?

      • how about both?

        Some people actually like living here and enjoy public transport and art.

        • novasteve

          Funny, how you can have public transport that isn’t a stupid streetcar. That’s a lot better art at the Smithsonian. When I think of Art, I don’t think of Arlington. Nor should anyone. Maybe you should visit the Louvre or the National Portrait Gallery in London? They have some nice art museums in Berlin too. But Arlington will never be like that, and shouldn’t waste a penny trying.

          • funny indeed

            There’d be no art to put at the Smithsonian if there were no local art facilities first.
            And why not aspire to have some culture above and beyond froyo stores?

          • JMT


          • TMJ


          • novasteve

            So pay for it yourself. Go buy some art and put it on your wall. The taxpayer shouldn’t be responsible for that. Aren’t there starving people in arlington? You’d really want to spend a penny on art so you can feel cultured while people are poor?

          • meanwhile back in reality

            so those places you talk of in PAris Berlin London etc (to prove to us how well travelled you are) should not really exist? All art should be on private people’s walls.

          • mick way

            Nor should anyone???

            Please call Eric Schaeffer and Paata Tsikurishvili asap and insist they close down Signature and Synetic immediately.

          • drax

            There should be absolutely no art within 50 miles of a museum. Got it.

        • Andrew

          Agreed. That’s why I take metro to the smithsonian!

        • Always Right

          I thought your types like to walk or bike??

  • nom de guerre

    Recent high profile hires by Arlington County-

    Former County Manager Michael Brown-4 months on the job
    Former Planning Director Peter Katz-5 months on the job
    Former Artisphere Programming Director-6 months on the job

    What does this say about the hiring process?

    • Andrew

      Or what does it say about the employer?

    • Valerie


    • Andy

      That the next high-profile hire will stay for 7 months?

  • LuvDusty

    I think the idea of Artisphere is a good one. The Kahlo exhibit was a step in the right direction. I think the problem, as always, is in the implementation/management.

    Here are some solutions I propose:

    1) Hours–while Rosslyn is certainly a busy area during M-F working hours, it tends to become a ghost town weekday evenings and weekends. More events should be scheduled during lunch hours M-F (for office staff who may want to grab a quick bite and see an exhibit/performance) or for “happy hour” post-work events that I think would draw big crowds.

    2) Location–Sure, it’s close to a Metro, but for some reason, that bldg, despite it’s stand-out sphere shape, has always seemed to be “out of the way” and somewhat hidden, even though it really isn’t. The main entrance is also not inviting, since it sits up on a hill.

    3) Advertising–While I did see some signs for the Kahlo exhibit near the Rosslyn metro and within that part of the neighborhood, once you get into Courthouse or Clarendon…there’s nothing there. They really need to advertise their programs more broadly.

    4) Price–make things free (like KC’s Millenium Stage program which has been pretty successful) or lower admission price at first, or make special deals for certain nights. (Fridays for $5 dollars, bring a free, pay 1/2 price..etc..) People like deals–and if they feel they are getting something worthwhile for a good deal, they will come back.

    5) Get local business sponsors–local bars, restaurants, music venues, etc…can cater and provide entertainment–make a partnership to defray costs and bring a wider swath of people to the venue. I suspect once people go once and have a good time for a low price, they will return.

    Lots of the problems the Artisphere faces, the Kennedy Center has also faced in the past (location, price, non-work hours, timing) and they’ve been relatively successful at solving a lot of those (not all).

    Let’s hope the new person, whoever they hire, has a clue.

    • Local neighborhood inhabitant

      I second the Advertising comment. It is PATHETIC. Every weekend you can open the Post’s Weekend section and easily spot the huge ads for the 9:30 Club, the Birchmere, etc. That’s where they should be advertising, with large and frequent enough ads to start name recognition in the metro area, not with some flyers visible to metro riders at one stop. Or how about paying arlnow to tweet the weekend’s bands? Or blanket Adams Morgan with flyers and City Paper ads. Good ads are the only hope for businesses that need customers. I’m not in or remotely connected to Marketing, but know it is the holy grail for getting feet in the door. Yes, marketing is expensive, but it supposedly pays for itself with the results.

  • novasteve

    Would you rather have Artisphere in that space or Dr. Dremos?

    • drax


  • how about both?


  • Arlingtonian

    The 1980’s Virginia Square Sector Plan recommended that the Sector should be the cultural, educational and recreational center for the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor. The new facilities were expected build on the existing central library, Arlington Arts Center, Quincy Park and George Mason University County to create a major destination for residents of Northern Virginia.

    Further, facilities in D.C. do not greatly compete with similar facilities in Virginia Square (unlike such facilities in Rosslyn, such as the Artisphere).

    However, the County has added nothing except commercial and residential buildings to Virginia Square. No recreational facilities, no museums, no eductational institutions, no art galleries, no theaters, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    Instead, the County has contributed funds to support the Artisphere in Rosslyn, Signature Theater in Shirlington, Long Bridge Park near Crystal City and all sorts of other things nearly everywhere else in the County. None of these places have achieved the critical mass of such facilities that might attract large numbers of visitors.

    When poorly located facilities such as the Artisphere fail to attract paying customers, why should anyone be surprised? According to its own plans, the County should have located its major art facility and many other cultural and recreational attractions in Virginia Square. That would have made the County into a real “world class city”.

    Remember that your elected officials and you appointed County Managers have caused all of the above. They will certainly continue to repeat their mistakes in the future.


Subscribe to our mailing list