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Embracing Arlington Arts Queries County Board Candidates About Arts in Arlington

By: Embracing Arlington Arts

June 25, 2020

Arlington County voters will go to the polls on July 7 to determine who will fill the County Board seat of the late Erik Gutshall. In order to help voters understand each candidate’s stand on the importance of arts and culture in the County, Embracing Arlington Arts sent out a questionnaire for the three candidates to complete covering several issues pertaining to the arts in Arlington.

The three candidates – Bob Cambridge (R), Susan Cunningham (I) and Takis Karantonis (D) – answered five questions about the arts and initiatives they would pursue as a County Board member to enhance the health and vibrancy of this industry in the county.

They all asserted that the arts are very important to Arlingtonians. Cambridge stated that “the arts do make life worth living and expand our horizons.” Cunningham opined that “artists worldwide have inspired and led us through this pandemic.” Karantonis focused on public art as “something I have strongly supported for many years.”

However, they did differ somewhat on some important issues. With respect to their support of building a flexible performing arts venue, Cunningham offered the most direct statement: “We need at least one quality, flexible performing arts venue to accommodate several professional theater organizations.” Cambridge preferred a partnership scenario with space being donated, and he cited Wings of Paper as an example. Karantonis proposed that the Arts Commission and staff should first conduct a study about what happened with the black box theater planned for Virginia Square and “extract key lessons” from that process.

The candidates also had different views of an arts district along Four Mile Run. Cambridge expressed “concern that little was being done to sell the Four Mile Run Valley Plan to the community.” Karantonis stated that “Arlington does not need to be limited to a single area known for supporting arts and that the arts have a place in each of our major development areas.” Cunningham offered the most direct support for the district by asserting that “artists work in all corners of Arlington County, yet the county is not widely-known for its arts community, in part because there is no one spot where residents and tourists can conveniently find a range and density of working artists. An Arts District can provide that hub.”

Specific initiatives were proposed by all three candidates on making the arts healthier and more vibrant. Karantonis is proposing potentially increasing the size of the County’s Arts Grant program and the creation of a public-private funded small business micro-loan program designed for arts organizations.” Cunningham recommended that “the arts should always be considered when planning new community facilities and renovations” and “integrating the promotion of the arts into regional DMV promotional activities. She pledged that as a County Board member, “I will encourage and facilitate more partnerships among arts organizations, schools, the food and beverage industry, the hotel industry, and tourism and industrial travel businesses so that each industry is invested in enhancing the prosperity of the others.” Cambridge promised to “support attainable (arts) projects and would look hard to find how to make suggested projects doable.”

To read the responses in full, follow this link.

Embracing Arlington Arts is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the vibrancy and health of arts and culture. Interested supporters are encouraged to “follow” and “like” us on Facebook; and follow us on Twitter, #EmbracingArlingtonArts.

For more information, contact Janet Kopenhaver at [email protected] 


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