Join Club

The former Artisphere space in Rosslyn has a new lease on life, as co-working area Spaces opened earlier this week.

Spaces is located at 1101 Wilson Blvd, in a building owned by Monday Properties. The chain’s Rosslyn location offers 303 desks in a 37,000-square-foot office space. Members can use any workstation, or can pay more to reserve one. Suites are also available for small businesses. Up to 800 members can be accommodated.

A large open area with a full kitchen, bar/café and eight beer taps can be reserved for meetings and parties, and doubles as a co-working space when not in use for events.

Members can also access 9,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a large balcony, while its upper atrium connects to Rosslyn’s Freedom Park.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Rosslyn Business Improvement District president and CEO Mary-Claire Burick said the new co-working space, one of several open or planning to open in Arlington, will foster community.

“We love how Spaces encourages a sense of community with its design, programs and overall empowering atmosphere,” Burick said. “That’s what we’re all about here in Rosslyn, so I know you and your clients will feel right at home. I want you to know that you have the full support of the Rosslyn business community, because when you succeed, we all succeed.”

Photos via Mary Parker Architectural Photography, courtesy of Monday Properties. Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow advertiser.

0 Comments

A large new coworking space will breathe new life into the former Artisphere in Rosslyn this fall.

Coworking firm Spaces expects to open its new Artisphere location in November. The location will feature 22,000 square feet of office space, an event space, an outdoor patio and a gym with showers, we’re told.

Renderings show sleekly-designed communal spaces designed for collaborative work.

“Take your creativity to new levels in uniquely inspired workspace in Rosslyn’s vibrant urban sector,” the Spaces website says. “The Artisphere’s sophisticated modern design cultivates an empowering social atmosphere that fuels innovative thinking.”

In April, Spaces opened a large coworking space in D.C.’s Uline Arena

0 Comments

Artisphere during the Silver Clouds exhibitThe former Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn will get a new life as a 45,000 square foot co-working space, its owner announced today.

The building at 1101 Wilson Boulevard will host a “flexible workspace,” called “Spaces,” from office space provider Regus, according to a news release from real estate firm Monday Properties.

Geared toward tech businesses, the redeveloped property will have an open layout that is intended to encourage collaboration among workers.

“Co-working is becoming increasingly popular with millennials and those who prefer a more flexible workspace,” Monday Properties president Tim Helmig said in a statement. “1101 Wilson Boulevard, with its diverse services and prime location, is the right home for Spaces and for other cutting edge firms that are looking to optimize and effectively grow their businesses.”

Regus and Monday Properties are working to transform the former Artisphere building over the next year. It wasn’t immediately clear when the co-working space will open.

When the co-working space does open, it will compete with Arlington-based MakeOffices, which has a location in a Monday Properties building at 1400 Key Boulevard in Rosslyn.

Arlington County terminated its lease on the Artisphere space last fall. Before the county used the building, it housed the Newseum.

The full press release, after the jump.

Read More

0 Comments

Reflection of the Artisphere dome in Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) One of the most recognizable features of the former Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn is not on the chopping block, after all.

On its Nov. 14 meeting agenda, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to consider a site plan amendment for 1101 Wilson Blvd, “relating to the demolition” of the Artisphere dome.

The county terminated its lease on the Artisphere space last month, five years after the center first opened. Previously used by the Newseum, when it was located in Rosslyn, the dome theater may narrow down the kind of tenants property owner Monday Properties can attract.

From a public notice about the site plan amendment:

SP# 89 1101 Wilson Owner, LLC to delete Condition #4 relating to demolition of dome structure on Wilson Boulevard; in C-O zoning district under ACZO §15.5. Property is approximately 60,700 sq. ft.; located at 1101 Wilson Blvd.; and is identified as RPC# 16-039-002; -003; -021. Applicable Policies: GLUP “High” Office-Apartment-Hotel; Rosslyn Sector Plan.

However, county officials now say that the dome is not in danger, at least for now.

From Helen Duong, the Chief Marketing Officer for Arlington’s Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development:

This condition currently requires that the Newseum Dome be demolished if the County moves forward with construction of the Loop Road in Rosslyn (the Dome is located partially within what would have been the right of way for the Loop Road). Given adoption of the new Rosslyn Sector Plan this past summer, in which the Loop Road concept was abandoned, there is no longer a need to demolish the dome, and therefore the property owner wants the condition requiring demolition removed. As is my understanding, Monday Properties does not want to demolish the dome, but would like to market the space without the encumbrances required by Cond. #4.

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

0 Comments

Artisphere during the Silver Clouds exhibitA little more than five years after Artisphere opened, the doors are shutting for good on what was once touted to be Arlington’s cultural crown jewel.

Without any discussion, the County Board unanimously voted to end the county’s lease for the Rosslyn space formerly occupied by Artisphere during its meeting last night. Artisphere, which opened on Oct. 10, 2010, shut is doors in June 2015, following financial problems.

It will cost the county $447,436.24 in payments to break the lease, which will end on Oct, 31. The lease on the property was originally written with an expiration date in April 2023.

Negotiations with landlord Monday Properties resulted in about $100,000 in savings on the lease termination, county staff said. Utilities and maintenance for the space cost the county nearly $1 million per year.

At this time, the county has not calculated the final cost for closing the cultural center, county staff said.

0 Comments

Photo taken during the Artisphere press preview 10/6/10The Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn closed in June, but on Saturday the County Board is expected to shut the door for good by terminating Artisphere’s lease.

Arlington County leased the 62,000 square foot former Newseum space at 1101 Wilson Blvd in November 2008. It opened Artisphere on Oct. 10, 2010.

Intractable financial losses at Artisphere — contrary to rosy projections made prior to the center’s opening — combined with a lack of local community participation to doom it. An effort to have the Artisphere space used for a tech incubator and conference center apparently fell through, leading to the lease termination recommendation from county staff.

Not helping matters: it costs about $1 million per year to maintain the space, including electricity, heating and air conditioning costs. Building owner Monday Properties, which gave the space to Arlington virtually rent free, will now be free to attempt to find a new tenant.

Under the staff recommendation, the lease will be terminated on Oct. 31. Arlington County will owe the landlord payments totaling $447,436.24 in order to exercise the early lease termination. (The lease was originally slated to end in April 2023.)

Negotiations regarding the early lease termination have cut the county’s total costs by more than $100,000, staff said.

The money will come from $1.3 million in funding already allocated by the County Board for the closing of Artisphere. The total cost of the facility’s shuttering is not yet available.

“Other expenses associated with the closure of the facility are still processing and a final estimate of the total closure costs will not be available until all invoicing is complete and internal accounts are reconciled,” county staff wrote.

The County Board will consider the lease termination at its meeting this coming Saturday.

0 Comments

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,

Barbara

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.

Read More

0 Comments

peter_rousselot_2014-12-27_for_facebook

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

In an April column, I outlined these lessons learned from Arlington’s Artisphere fiasco:

  • Arlington needs a new arts policy,
  • The new policy must reflect current fiscal realities,
  • Current fiscal realities require that core services should receive priority funding,
  • Taxpayer support for the arts should be based upon artistic merit (as determined by a qualified citizens advisory group), not based upon hard-to-quantify “economic development” potential.

On June 11, ARLnow.com published a revealing new story on the Artisphere based upon documents provided to ARLnow pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Arlington County government.

That story and the documents provide additional lessons about arts funding, Arlington County’s mismanagement, and what we should do moving forward.

The Artisphere’s Mission Was Muddled

This comment to the latest ARLnow story best captures the Artisphere’s muddled mission:

Artisphere never figured out if it wanted to be a mini-Kennedy Center or a mini-Torpedo Factory. Local artists and artisans were promised a gallery/shop where they could sell what they created. As the article pointed out, a popular local theater company was kicked out. If Artisphere had wanted more local attendance, it should have brought in more of the local arts community. Instead, it turned its back on us, trying to be something it never stood a chance of being.

We could argue endlessly whether the Artisphere should have focused on being a mini-Kennedy Center or a mini-Torpedo factory or something else. If public taxpayer dollars were not involved, this would be a decision strictly up to the private sector. If such a private-sector venture failed, then the private backers would suffer the financial loss. But if our tax dollars are involved, we should insist on a clear mission.

Arlington County Mismanaged The Artisphere

The Arlington County government compounded the risk posed by the Artisphere’s muddled mission by:

  • agreeing to an open-ended taxpayer subsidy arrangement supporting this costly facility,
  • prematurely launching the Artisphere before key hires (e.g., executive director, marketing director) were in place,
  • trying to rationalize the mounting red ink by seizing upon the Artisphere’s alleged economic development potential to boost Rosslyn.

The Way Forward

From the ashes of the Artisphere fiasco, we can move forward to an exciting and fiscally-sustainable future for the arts in Arlington. I disagree with those who say Arlington should stop all support for arts funding.

Arlington’s continued strong commitment of our tax dollars to support the arts should:

  • avoid future arrangements in which Arlington assumes fiscal responsibility to fund any and all losses of a facility housing artistic ventures,
  • emphasize targeted direct grants from Arlington to artists and arts groups,
  • recognize that funding for core services (e.g., schools, parks, roads) requires priority.
0 Comments

Artisphere during the Silver Clouds exhibit

Artisphere hosted its final performances this past weekend, as it prepares to close for good at the end of the month. Supporters decry the closure as the county government prioritizing penny pinching over the arts. But Artisphere’s financial losses may have been secondary to another problem: lack of community engagement.

The cultural center in Rosslyn spent more than $1 million on marketing over four and a half years, largely targeting D.C. area arts aficionados with newspaper ads. The strategy paid off with sold-out niche concerts and events, but failed to attract the loyalty of many Arlington residents who have a more casual appreciation for the arts.

Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts, photo courtesy of ArtisphereInstead of the original vision of a hub for local arts groups and a community hangout, complete with a WiFi cafe, Artisphere became more of a regional draw for one-off performances. Some 75 percent of its audience came from outside Arlington and 83 percent of its artists from outside Virginia, according to a 2014 report.

After hastily opening on the novelty date of 10/10/10, before an executive director or a marketing director could even be hired, Artisphere’s finances proved to be a fiasco. Wildly over-optimistic expectations gave way to the realization that the center would only make a quarter of its projected visitor revenue in the first year. That, in turn, sparked community criticism, set off backtracking by policymakers and led to a series of changes that watered down community participation.

The cafe closed, Artisphere focused more on event rentals and a popular local theater company was booted out.

It didn’t help that Artisphere’s multitude of performance venues were small and, as officials figured out after opening, couldn’t host simultaneous events due to noise bleed.

The relative lack of participation from taxpaying Arlington residents and artists, in the end, may have been Artisphere’s biggest downfall. When Artisphere hit the chopping block, few residents showed up at County Board meetings to speak in its defense.

Artisphere visitors FY 2014“That’s exactly part of the issue,” said retiring Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, in a May interview. “At some levels, it wasn’t reaching our community in such a way that won their support.”

(An online petition to save Artisphere gathered nearly the same number of signatures as a recent petition to save a large oak tree on N. Nottingham Street.)

Donnellan and the County Board faced criticism in the local arts world for the decision, with letters to the editor, the chair of the Arlington Commission for the Arts and even a Washington City Paper cover story implying that the Board was naive in closing Artisphere just because it was losing money.

“Artisphere’s closure is symptomatic of a much larger political view of culture in which the arts are important to community building, but funding them is not,” the City Paper wrote. It along with the Washington Post were the beneficiaries of 55 percent of Artisphere’s marketing budget.

But there was more that went into the decision to close than just dollars and cents. Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said Artisphere was “able to create some wonderful shows” after “‘we got some of the right programming people in place,” but “there was a struggle in terms of what type of place [Artisphere] was going to be.”

Photo from the Here Cafe + Bar opening at Artisphere“Within our Cultural Affairs department there was a real desire to be cutting edge and to fill a niche they perceived in the D.C. arts scene,” Hynes said. “So people on the way up” were booked, but “those are people who who are developing an audience, not those who have an audience.”

There was discussion of hosting “community Saturdays” — with performances from school groups and other community-driven activities — “where we get people familiar with coming here because their kid is performing here.”

“But that didn’t fit with the image of what people thought of as [Artisphere],” Hynes said. “So I do think that audience was pretty constrained in terms of all of Arlington.”

“In the end we collectively didn’t see as much of an opportunity for full community participation here than we see in some other things we do,” Hynes said of the decision to close Artisphere and send about half of its budget back into other arts programming around Arlington. “When a locality is putting its tax money into helping the production of art, we have some obligation to consider how we give as many people in our community as possible the opportunity to consume good art.”

Read More

0 Comments

Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts, photo courtesy of Artisphere

A new art piece will lambast the closure of Artisphere on the venue’s final day of live performance.

Artist Carolina Mayorga can neither confirm nor deny that she will assume the form of the Virgin Mary apparition during a performance titled “Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts.” But Mayorga, who’s dressed as the holy figure before, says there’s a good possibility a divine apparition could materialize at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

“[The Virgin Mary] is thinking about making an apparition at Artisphere,” Mayorga says, chuckling. “She might appear. She’s thinking about it.”

During the performance piece, which lasts an hour and precedes a musical performance by Stooges Brass Band and Black Masala, Mayorga will perform mock holy rituals and anoint Artisphere attendees.

“I have these cardboard letters that spell the word art,” explains Mayorga. “and I’m going to burn them in a little metal tray, mix that with oil, and use a brush to [paint dollar signs on attendees’ foreheads].”

A live organist will play Catholic mass classics such as “Ave Maria” alongside the performance.

“I call it Ash Saturday,” says Mayorga.

The point of the performance, explains Mayorga, isn’t to belittle religion. Instead, it’s to mourn the loss of a local artistic institution.

“I benefitted from Artisphere for a long time,” she says. “I did an artist in residency with them in 2013. They’ve always been supportive of my work.”

Some of the art from Mayorga’s residency still clings to the gallery’s walls as a permanent installation.

“When you want to do a special performance, you need a venue like Artisphere,” Mayorga says. “It really hurts to lose it.”

Photo courtesy of Artisphere.

0 Comments

"The Pigeoning" (photo courtesy Artisphere)In precisely two months, Artisphere will end its five-year run, but it appears to be going out with a bang.

According to Artisphere Director of Marketing and Communications Barry Halvorson, most of Artisphere’s shows this spring have sold out. But then, he said, that’s not altogether a new phenomenon for the almost-five-year-old arts center.

“Over the last three years or so, we have really been hitting our stride,” Halvorson said. “We’re on track to come ahead slightly of last year. We’ve been performing to an average of 75 percent capacity. That’s above industry average.”

Despite the fact that Artisphere has consistently lost money every year of existence, Halvorson it’s been by all accounts a successful arts venture. He challenges the notion that the Artisphere is a $2.2-million-a-year sunk investment.

“You wouldn’t refer to the Kennedy Center as the ‘money-losing Kennedy Center’ when in fact it is the money-losing Kennedy Center,” Halvorson said. “Every arts organization in town is a money-losing venture… It’s almost a minor miracle that we’ve been able to really run it as well as we’ve been running it.”

Acting Artisphere Director Josh Stoltzfus said the venue has been able to achieve that by targeting international musicians and artists, catering to the D.C. area’s global diversity of heritage.

“In a lot of ways, international music has had a very strong track record in this market,” he said. “The larger Metro area, we have people from all over the world that live and work in this area, people either from all those countries or who were stationed there. We’re trying to reflect the community we serve.”

Artisphere has hosted acts like a controversial Ugandan play, Yiddish punk music, an eight-hour endurance performance and more than 100 belly-dancers. Its 62,000-square-foot space has caused sky-high utilities bills, but the unique venue has allowed performance-goers to see art installations before taking in the eclectic, international performers.

“We’ve really tried to become sort of the go-to presenter of international music in this market,” Halvorson said. “We’ve been largely successful in doing that.”

In the final two months, the venue’s remaining staff is not planning a big grand finale, but rather they will continue to put on shows most weeks; Halvorson said May will one of the busiest months they’ve ever had. Next Saturday, they will be screening a “live documentary” called the Measure of All Things in the Dome Theatre.

That documentary will be cued up and narrated on stage by its Academy Award-Nominated Director Sam Green, and will be accompanied by a live band. The documentary will focus on the lives of people in the Guinness Book of World Records, like the world’s tallest man and the world’s longest hair.

“That’s a great example of programs that is sort of representative of what Artisphere presents,” Halvorson said. “It’s difficult to describe and boil down, but that’s what we’re doing.”

Linda Hesh, the artist who installed a piece of art when Artisphere opened, called “Art Every Day” will return for another installation this spring that will take pieces of art tied to the venue and spread them across the community. After that, the doors will lock and the county will decide what comes next for the space.

“While it’s true that they physical building is closing,” Stoltzfus said, “the ideas that Artisphere has put forth in the community will last for the years to come.”

File photo courtesy Artisphere

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list