Press Club

Donnellan, Artisphere Staff Bid Farewell on Last Day

County Manager Barbara Donnellan presents her FY 2014 budget on Feb. 20, 2013Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan and the staff of Artisphere are saying farewell.

Today is Donnellan’s last day as the top executive in Arlington County government, before her retirement, which was announced in March.

Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz will serve as acting county manager while the county continues to conduct a nationwide search for Donnellan’s permanent replacement.

Donnellan sent the following goodbye memo to county staff this afternoon, after spending much of the morning walking around county government headquarters and saying goodbye to staffers in person.

Friends: I could not leave today without thanking you all for your hard work and your many contributions that have helped make Arlington a great community.

How quickly thirty-one-and-a-half years have flown by. It has been an amazing ride. Together, we have accomplished so much. For me, the most satisfying aspect of this job has been the opportunity to come to work each day and interact with such a talented group of people. But all great things must come to an end.

Tomorrow, I start a new chapter, and I’m looking forward to exploring new opportunities. Under Mark Schwartz’s able leadership, I know that you will continue to do great things.

Again, thank you for everything. It has been such a privilege.

All the best,


Also bidding adieu is Artisphere, which is set to permanently close its doors after today.

The staff of the cultural center in Rosslyn sounded a proud, defiant note in a goodbye message sent to its email list this afternoon. That note is below, after the jump.

Artisphere opened to great fanfare on 10/10/10 as a testament to Arlington County’s longstanding commitment to the arts. During its four and a half year lifespan Artisphere presented nearly one thousand unique artistic programs, across all artistic disciplines–often blurring the lines between them. Its mission was unique: to present visual arts, new media and performing arts all under one roof.

To adjust for the significant costs associated with its physical structure, Artisphere’s business model morphed over time. However, its unswerving dedication to artistic excellence remained constant. We wish to thank our community and the many individuals who contributed to Artisphere’s many successes. From the wonder of Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds exhibition, to the breathtaking range of international musicians we presented from all over the world, we have offered a depth and breadth of contemporary art programming that this region has not experienced under one roof.

We stand firm in our belief that to be a world-class community–one that that is vibrant and growing and attractive to the best young talent–the arts are a necessary, vital ingredient. While Artisphere will no longer continue as an institution, the ideas and values championed by Artisphere will continue to be supported by Arlington County. In fact, several of the venue’s acclaimed curatorial staff are moving back to Arlington’s award-winning Cultural Affairs Division, including:

Cynthia Connolly, visual arts curator
Sarah Lissabet, programming specialist
Sharon Raphael, special events director
Josh Stoltzfus, programming director
Luis Chavesta, technical staff

Ryan Holladay, Artisphere’s New Media Curator, has decided to move on to his next adventure, but the position also is returning to Arlington Cultural Affairs.

We encourage you to visit the website to stay abreast of upcoming arts and cultural programming. You will continue to receive occasional updates and emails from Arlington Cultural Affairs, although you may opt out at any time.

In the meantime we leave you with a simple quote from Artisphere’s former Executive Director, José A. Ortiz:

“Art is not easy. Art is hard. Art is more than hanging a picture on a wall.”

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