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by Anna Merod April 20, 2018 at 3:30 pm 0

Three separate events will be temporarily shutting down Arlington roads this weekend.

The sixth annual Arlington Festival of the Arts will be held in Clarendon on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The event will shut down the following roads from 4 a.m. on Saturday through 9 p.m. on Sunday:

  • Westbound Washington Boulevard from N. Garfield Street to Clarendon Boulevard
  • N. Highland Street from Clarendon Boulevard to Washington Boulevard
  • 11th Street N. between N. Highland and N. Garfield streets only will be open to delivery traffic

Police are advising motorists that street parking will be restricted and that “No Parking” signs will be enforced.

The Discovery/Nottingham Friendship 5K race will be held on Saturday from 7:30-10:30 a.m. According to the Arlington County Police Department, the following roads will be closed during that time:

  • Williamsburg Boulevard will be closed to eastbound traffic from Little Falls Road to N. Harrison Street
  • Little Falls Road will be closed from Williamsburg Boulevard to N. Harrison Street
  • N. Ohio Street will be closed from 26th Street N. to Williamsburg Boulevard

Residents living in the closed-off area will be escorted by police, and are encouraged to park their vehicles in their driveways.

Saturday’s Arlington Palooza, at Alcova Heights Park, will close 8th Street S. between George Mason Drive and S. Randolph Street from 9 a.m.-6 p.m, according to ACPD.

Temporary “No Parking” signs will be placed along George Mason Drive to allow vehicles to load and unload items for the event. Vehicles violating the signs will be towed.

Photos courtesy ACPD

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm 0

A black box theater is expected to be formally removed from the plans for a development in Virginia Square at this weekend’s Arlington County Board meeting.

The County Manager’s office has recommended that a new site plan amendment be approved that would remove the theater from the development’s required community amenities.

Mark Schwartz, the County Manager, moved to absolve the developer of the black box theater requirement last year. Though the theater was in line with the Virginia Square sector plan, its initial operational and financial costs, as well as ongoing operational costs that would rely on tax support, were deemed too high.

Considering those costs, the project didn’t align with “a shift in strategy which talks about delivering cultural programming with low-cost, high-impact investments,” said Schwartz.

The new site plan will convert a previously approved 3,180 square feet of ground floor retail space into office space, 2,725 square feet of retail space to office space, and add 2,725 square feet of office space at the penthouse level.

The proposed plan would also lower the building’s height by eight feet, eliminate a mezzanine level, and add an outdoor terrace at the penthouse level.

The mezzanine level is no longer necessary, as it was intended to support the black box theater. County staff found that “the proposed site plan amendments are reasonable adjustments in the approved site plan and respond to the removal of the black box theater.”

The site was previously home of the Arlington Funeral Home, which closed in 2011 after 55 years in business.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 19, 2018 at 11:55 am 0

Arlington Cultural Affairs plans on surveying artists within a 50-mile radius of the county as part of a proposal to bring affordable artist housing to Arlington.

feasibility study said that such a survey would “definitively reveal whether a market for artist housing exists and whether an affordable housing-funded model… would be considered affordable by prospective, income-qualifying tenants.”

The survey will ask artists to “express their interest” in the affordable housing project and detail their “current and future needs in a live/work space,” according to an event page for a presentation and question and answer session which will kick off the “Arts Market” survey.

That presentation, on Thursday (March 22) from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center, will precede a reception where artists can take the survey and mingle.

The survey is expected to cost between $30,000 and $42,500 and would be paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, which also paid for the preliminary feasibility study.

Artspace, the national arts non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minn., that is collaborating with Arlington Cultural Affairs, has so far led four focus groups to discuss area artist housing needs, according to the study.

The feasibility found that “affordable housing and live/work space was expressed as a need, particularly in the context of anticipated rising rents and the increasing lack of affordable for-sale housing” and cited community feedback that there wasn’t a central artistic gathering place.

That study pointed out four potential neighborhoods for the project — Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, and the Four Mile Run Valley — but specifically noted that central Rosslyn didn’t make sense for the project because of the density and traffic congestion.

Artspace has already finished two projects in the area, in Washington and in Mount Rainier, Md., and is set to launch another in Silver Spring, Md., later this year.

“It is clear that area jurisdictions are finding that communities are strengthened and made vibrant by a strong arts presence,” wrote Jim Byers, the Arlington Cultural Affairs marketing director, in an email to ARLnow.com.

“The Arts Market Survey is the next step towards determining how Arlington might best leverage the creative energies that exist in our region and encourage still more artists to make their home here.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com February 22, 2018 at 12:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Mac McCreery, David Peete, Tom Prewitt, Robin Stombler and Jeff Zeeman. McCreery, Peete, Prewitt and Zeeman are all members of the Arts District Committee. Stombler serves as Chair of the Committee.

We didn’t always agree at first. As representatives of business, arts, industry, and community interests, we were bound to have divergent ideas, but we came together as members of the Arts District Committee, a component of the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative Working Group. Let us share with you what we found.

Arlington already has a burgeoning arts district. Along South Four Mile Run Drive, between South Nelson Street and Walter Reed Drive, there is an 85-seat black box theater, studios for dance classes and recitals, gallery space, a costume and property shop for a Tony-award winning regional theater, and a private recording studio where the country’s most widely recognized and acclaimed bands lay down tracks. Over 30 arts-related organizations already call this area home, including multi-ethnic heritage arts groups.

In this neighborhood, we also have the last vestiges of light industrial space in Arlington. It is a relatively affordable place for small businesses to operate, such as a new distribution brewery and multiple family owned mechanic shops that have operated through generations. We quickly determined that an arts district must embrace both the cultural arts and the industrial nature of the area. This melding of uses is important for sustainability and long-term economic viability.

For a revitalized arts and industry quarter, we define arts broadly. Imagine theaters, rehearsal halls, visual art galleries and craft spaces. But also fuse the arts with light industry to include culinary arts, metalworking, furniture making shops, and technological innovation/maker spaces. These examples are meant not to limit, but rather to highlight some of the uses envisioned. Using one scenario, the Arlington Food Assistance Center could be combined with culinary arts classes and catering and a rooftop garden could support those endeavors. The quarter should espouse innovation, creativity, skill and talent.

A sound infrastructure is necessary for this quarter to thrive. We researched and expounded on five elements: Mission, Physical, Financial, Development, and Arts Specific. Within these elements is a call to embrace the industrial roots of the area with a thriving mix of arts, culture, business and industry. We have the opportunity to expand on a unique area of Arlington, leverage existing institutions and buildings, and stop the cookie cutter development from settling in. While this area already provides value with its arts and industrial uses, our report outlines how it can offer so much more as a branded, place-making center for Arlington.

Unanimous in our support for the recommendations in our Committee report on an arts and industry quarter, we find that working in collaboration – business, arts and community – we have a strong opportunity ahead of us.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by Chris Teale December 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Arlington County has received a $25,000 federal grant to fund programming for its Art Truck.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded the grant, which will be matched by $25,000 in county money for a total of $50,000 in funding, in June. The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday (December 16) to receive the grant.

The grant will help with expenses, commission original artwork and hire artists for programming. The Art Truck is part of approximately 1,000 projects to receive federal money.

The County Board approved purchasing the mobile arts and performance venue last year to partially fill the void left by the closure of the Artisphere in Rosslyn.

It travels to locations like farmers markets, neighborhood events, public libraries and after-school events, with its projects ranging from pop-up galleries to performances.

“The main goal of the Arlington Art Truck is to demystify the artmaking process, to tear down the four walls, turn it inside out and bring the ‘museum’ to the people,” Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of Arlington Arts and Cultural Affairs, said in a statement earlier this year.

The total $50,000 funding help pay for artists’ fees, transportation and hotels ($26,130); vehicle costs ($8,455); technology needs ($4,027); printing, art and office supplies ($5,638); and marketing and advertising materials ($5,750).

Image via Arlington Cultural Affairs

by ARLnow.com December 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

Arts organizations in Arlington need additional support from Arlington residents, says Janet Kopenhaver, founder and chair of Embracing Arlington Arts.

The group was founded earlier this year and counts Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) and County Board vice chair Katie Cristol among its supporters.

Embracing Arlington Arts describes itself as “an independent citizens group comprised of Arlington arts supporters whose mission is to inform others about the importance and diversity of the arts, artists and arts organizations in our community.” It also helps to “spread the word about the extremely diverse performance and cultural events held in Arlington.”

On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Kopenhaver about her organization, her recent radio interview with Second Lady Karen Pence, the economic impact of the arts in Arlington, the mistakes made with Artisphere, why the number of arts groups in Arlington are dwindling, and how local residents and organizations can support the arts.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by Chris Teale October 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A recent report by a national nonprofit found that more than 6,000 people are employed by more than 600 businesses and organizations that support the arts in Arlington County.

In a report prepared by Americans For The Arts entitled, “The Creative Industries: Business & Employment,” 658 arts-related businesses were found to employ 6,124 people. Those arts-related businesses are defined as arts schools/services; design/publishing; film, radio and television; museum/collections; performing arts; and visual/photography.

The creative industries account for 5.1 percent of the total number of businesses located in Arlington County and 3 percent of the people they employ, according to the report.

“Arts businesses and the creative people they employ stimulate innovation, strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, and play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy,” the report reads. “In a global economy, the creative industries are durable and enduring local employers.”

The report’s findings brought praise from local group Embracing Arlington Arts, a citizen group that focuses on informing others about the importance of art in the Arlington community.

Chair Janet Kopenhaver said arts’ support of the economy goes beyond those directly employed in the creative industries, and contributes a great deal.

“When considering that, according to another economic study, over $18 million of economic activity in Arlington is derived from audience expenditures associated with arts events, including eating at restaurants, parking, ticket sales and other purchases made during their night out, these industries economically contribute so much to our county,” Kopenhaver said in a statement.

Images via Americans for the Arts.

by ARLnow.com October 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The following letter was written by Daniel Lopez, board member of the Arlington Soccer Association, regarding the proposed arts district in the Four Mile Run valley.

A few years back, using tax dollars and bond money earmarked for recreational parks, Arlington County purchased five properties adjacent to Jennie Dean Park to add to the overall park space inventory. The County Board recently charged the Four Mile Run Valley working group (4MRV) with developing “a vision for the comprehensive replacement and realignment of existing park features (exclusively for park purposes) and the addition of new park amenities to meet the growing demand for active and passive recreation, cultural resources and natural resource preservation.”

Part of the overall 4MRV project involves developing a plan for improving Jennie Dean Park. The space acquired with bond money is ideally suited for use as additional, new park space to complement the existing Jennie Dean Park. The new space could add to the inventory of peaceful green space in the valley, something that many Arlingtonians, including residents of Nauck, Shirlington and other local neighborhoods, have asked for time and time again.

However, some in the 4MRV group have reportedly strayed from the charge and are actively working to re-purpose this property as an ill-defined and unfunded “arts district.” The hope and presumption is that Arlington County will be able to provide subsidies and other financial support to enable the birth and growth of this arts district. For reasons not made clear, arts districts proponents seem focused on locating the arts district in space previously suggested as new park space. The overall 4MRV planning process encompasses a huge amount of space beyond Jennie Dean Park, much of which could support an arts district fully, and some in the working group have even spoken up in favor of locating any arts district closer to the new Nauck Town Square, and not in the Jennie Dean Park area.

Arlington County already actively supports the arts. The County supports the arts with, among other things, the Crystal City Underground gallery space, the Arlington Arts Center, the Signature Theater, Synetic Theater, and a variety of public spaces for art displays. It is unclear where the funding for any additional arts support will come from, and no one in the 4MRV group has provided any concrete visions of support.

Shared public spaces are the county’s most precious resources. Opportunities to add green space in Arlington don’t come very often, and we need to take advantage of those few opportunities when they present themselves. The Arlington Soccer Association supports the arts in general, but in this specific instance, ASA opposes attempts within the 4MRV working group process to re-purpose this new open space as an “arts district.” Let’s use park space for park purposes, and take advantage of the ability to add to the County’s functional green space inventory.

Daniel Lopez
Arlington Soccer Association

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes letters about issues of local interest. To submit your thoughts for consideration, please email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

Map via Google Maps.

by Kalina Newman July 19, 2017 at 5:45 pm 0

 The Arlington County Board voted to allocate over $200,000 to various art associations and individual artists for Fiscal Year 2018 at its meeting Saturday.

A total of 21 financial grants were distributed, totaling $215,810, with the majority of recipients also being granted the use of county facilities and technical services. Twelve other organizations were granted the use of county facilities and technical services under the so-called Space and Services Grant.

“The arts enrich our lives and enliven our community,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “The Arts Grants program supports a diverse arts community in Arlington.”

There was a rigorous application process to receive the grants, which total $215,810. According to a report by county staff, the Arlington Commission for the Arts Grant Recommendations used a two-step grant application process that also included a mandatory attendance at grant preparation workshops.

Of the 28 grant applications asking for financial support in FY 2018, the Commission received 21 from nonprofit art organizations and seven from individual artists. The county received 54 applications in total.

The commission allocated three different kinds of grants for artists:

  • Individual Artist Grants — direct financial support for an individual artist on a proposed work that they describe in their grant application
  • Project Grants — direct financial support for a specific project proposed by an organization
  • Space & Service Grants — grants for performance/rehearsal space and technical services for an organization.

The biggest organizations to receive grants include Washington Shakespeare Co., UrbanArias and the Arlington Arts Center.

The full list of grant recipients after the jump.

(more…)

by Kalina Newman June 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A new study has found that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Arlington have nearly doubled their impact on county coffers in the last five years.

The national study, “Arts and Economic Prosperity 5” by Americans for the Arts, found that nonprofit arts generate $189.2 million each year in Arlington and supports more than 5,000 full-time jobs. It also generates $13.9 million in tax revenues each year for state and local governments, the study found.

Of that, Arlington County receives approximately $7.5 million a year, up from $3.9 million in tax revenue recorded five years ago, when the last study was completed.

“Arlington has a vibrant arts ecosystem of 127 nonprofit arts and culture organizations that range from amateur theater to WETA, which is one of the largest producers of content for PBS, which is also headquartered in Arlington,” Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in a statement. “These numbers reflect the breadth and impact of that ecosystem.”

The study documented the economic contributions of the arts in 341 counties and regions across the country, including Arlington County. Only nonprofit organizations were studied, so calculations from for-profit organizations such as movie theaters or commercial concert venues were not included.

Some other notable local statistics from the study:

  • Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations provide 5,156 full-time jobs in Arlington
  • $118.6 million dollars of household income is produced annually
  • $170 million is spent annually to keep the organizations running
  • Audience members spend over $18 million each year on amenities such as lodging, child care, meals and transportation

“Not only do these non-profit organizations entertain residents with stellar performances, cultural events and heritage festivals, but they also generate $7.512 million in revenue for the county government,” said Janet Kopenhaver, chair of advocacy group Embracing Arlington Arts. “This translates into an economic powerhouse industry for our county and its residents.”

There are over 50 locally-focused art groups in Arlington County along with hundreds of independent visual artists, whose genres range from performing to media arts. In combination with heritage groups the represent countries such as Vietnam and Bolivia, over 4,000 programs are conducted annually that reach almost 600,000 people, according to the county.

by ARLnow.com April 26, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Park Upgrades Approved — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Board approved contracts that will “upgrade the playgrounds and picnic shelter at Oakgrove Park and add a restroom/picnic pavilion and futsal court at Tyrol Hills Park.” The contracts total around $1.7 million. [Arlington County]

TJ Construction to Take Away Theater Parking — Construction of a new elementary school next to the Thomas Jefferson community center and middle school will mean a loss of parking for the community theater used by a number of local performing arts troupes. Those troupes, including The Arlington Players and Ballet Nova, will now have to decide whether to relocate to another community theater or stay and deal with the lack of parking. [InsideNova]

New Location for Children’s School Approved — Last night the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a site plan amendment allowing the Children’s School, a co-op child care center for Arlington Public School employees, to occupy two floors of a Ballston office building. The center is moving from an APS-owned building in Westover to make way for what’s expected to be a new elementary school. Some Ballston condominium residents expressed concerns about the child care center, primarily related to traffic; County Board member Christian Dorsey pointed out that the space it’s moving into was formerly used by a for-profit college. [Arlington County]

Ballston Profiled by WaPo — “With an array of amenities, it’s easy to see why Ballston is one of the area’s hottest markets,” says a real estate-focused profile of the neighborhood. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2017 at 11:10 am 0

Four Mile Run Valley arts area concept sketch (via Arlington County)Arlington County is scheduled to hold a series of focus groups on the housing needs of artists next week.

The public discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and will be led by Minneapolis-based Artspace, a nonprofit that “uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work.”

“The conversation with arts, community, and business leaders will focus on the potential for artist housing in a variety of neighborhoods in Arlington,” according to a web page for the event. “The visit will assess the viability of arts-related programming for selected sites.”

There are four areas being considered for arts-related development: Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, the Four Mile Run Valley/Shirlington area, and the 23rd Street S. commercial district in Crystal City.

The $20,000 cost of the feasibility study is being paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, according to the county, but at this point no final decision has been made as to whether to move forward with artist housing facilities in Arlington.

“By convening a broad-based conversation among community leaders, Artspace hopes to stimulate serious, forward looking dialog on the needs of Arlington’s creative community, including affordable housing for art teachers, music instructors and working artists,” said the county. “This is simply a conversation to explore the range and feasibility of arts-related uses broadly in and within a handful of specific neighborhoods.”

“If the results of the initial feasibility study are positive, Artspace may be engaged to conduct a Phase II study which offers a deeper dive into the needs of the community,” the county explained. “AFAI has indicated that it will fund the Phase II study if the results of the original feasibility study warrant it.”

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, at the Arlington Economic Development offices at 1100 N. Glebe Road, 15th floor. Anybody is welcome to attend.

by ARLnow.com July 20, 2016 at 8:40 am 0

Post-rainstorm summertime sunrise while driving (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Arts Truck, Grants Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved $215,810 in grants to local arts organizations and nearly $70,000 for the purchase and deployment of a new mobile art studio. [Arlington County]

Snow Plowing Policy Change — Starting this winter, Arlington County will plow residential streets at the outset of snowstorms, reversing its previous policy of only focusing on major arterial routes before moving on to residential streets after the snow stops and major roads are clear. [InsideNova]

Ballston Mall Redevelopment Authority Approved — Arlington County is creating its first Community Development Authority. The CDA will be focused on making infrastructure improvements around the future Ballston Quarter mall — the new identity of Ballston Common Mall, which is being renovated. As part of a public-private partnership, the county plans to spend around $55 million to improve local roads, public plazas and the public Ballston parking garage. [Arlington County]

Chamber Supports Aquatics Center Plan — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has penned a letter in support of building a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. “One of Arlington’s main assets is the employee talent pool we have residing in our county,” wrote the Chamber’s president. “The proposed facility will help attract and retain this talent, as well as the businesses looking to employ them.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Golden hour in Shirlington

Board to Consider Arts Grants — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider its latest round of annual grants to local arts organizations. Among the 18 organizations being allocated a portion of the $215,810 in financial support for the arts are the Arlington Arts Center ($20,547), Bowen McCauley Dance ($27,237), Encore Stage and Studio ($24,715) and Washington Shakespeare Company ($24,247). [Arlington County]

ACFD Says Thanks for Fire Staffing — The Arlington County Fire Department thanked residents yesterday for fully funding safe fire truck staffing levels and an additional peak-time medic unit with the county’s latest Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The new budget took effect July 1. [Twitter]

Landscapers Volunteer at Arlington National — A group of some 400 professional landscapers from around the country volunteered their time at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to help spruce up the grounds. The annual event is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. [WTOP]

Extended Construction Hours for Ballston Project — The County Board will consider a proposal by Marymount University and developer the Shooshan Company to temporarily extend the construction hours at the “Blue Goose” project in Ballston. The proposal would extend construction hours to 1:30 a.m. for eight weeks, to allow nighttime deliveries of construction materials that would otherwise require lane closures on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive during the day. [InsideNova]

Lane Closures on GW Parkway — Expect single lane closures on the northbound GW Parkway, 2.5 miles north of Key Bridge, due to repair work on a stone wall along the Parkway. The closures will be in place from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. through Wednesday. [Patch]

by ARLnow.com April 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

Arlington poetry boothApril is National Poetry Month and Arlington has a number of activities planned to help promote poetry and the literary arts. Two are taking place this Sunday, April 10.

First, a Peanuts-like poetry booth (left) will be set up at the Columbia Pike farmers market starting at 10 a.m. A local poet will offer a free poem or literary advice to anyone who asks. The booth will also be set up at the market the following Sunday.

Other poets will staff the booth at the Shirlington Branch Library on Thursday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m., and at the Westover library at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 and 28.

Also taking place Sunday is a free poetry reading by the six winners of Arlington’s 16th annual Moving Words poetry competition. That’s scheduled for 4 p.m. at Iota Club and Cafe (2832 Wilson Blvd).

Arlington County announced earlier this week that it’s accepting applications in an effort to select the county’s first poet laureate.

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