This Saturday, Arlington County is set to consider buying two parcels of land near Shirlington — 2700 S. Nelson Street and 2701 S. Oakland Street — and the warehouse that sits on it, which houses Inner Ear.
The warehouse, which is also home to a Ben & Jerry’s catering outfit and part of the Arlington Food Assistance Center, is old and structurally worn down, he says, and county documents indicate it will likely be demolished to make way for an arts and industry district along Four Mile Run.
Arlington County previously announced its plans to one day buy the building, but Zientara said no specifics were laid out as to when he would have to relinquish his studio. Now, however, the county has set a deadline: Dec. 31, 2021.
“I could retire at this point,” he said. “I’m weighing a lot of options. Closing it down is probably a strong one… It all depends on what we want to do. I’m not ready, really, to move the studio.”
The business is picking up “slowly, very slowly,” since the pandemic started. Musicians anticipate live music opportunities this summer and want to have a record or a downloadable song to “get things going,” Zientara said.
Zientara has been recording for more than 30 years in his basement and the Shirlington location. The long list of those who have recorded at the hole-in-the-wall studio includes the Foo Fighters, Fugazi and Minor Threat.
“I’m sorry to see it go, but that’s the way that it is,” Zientara said. “So I’m OK with it — it’s just the natural evolution of things. You can’t stop progress. I hope what they do have is something that can complement the arts in the county.”
That is the county’s plan.
The purchase would “fulfill multiple goals of the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan, the Public Spaces Master Plan and the County’s Arts and Culture Strategy,” according to a county report. “The property is uniquely positioned to host a variety of diverse programming such as musical, dance, and theatre performances, and a multidisciplinary arts festival, anchored by a weekly outdoor ‘Valley Market.'”
County staff said the 18,813 sq. ft. of land could be used for the following uses as early as summer 2022:
- An outdoor market, similar to Eastern Market in DC, and inspired by the county’s holiday markets and Made In Arlington pop-up events.
- A location for the county mobile stage for musical, dance and theater performances.
- An outdoor movie screening spot, “possibly curated for audiences not otherwise being served.”
- A space for county-sponsored multidisciplinary arts festivals, supporting “a diverse range of artistic and cultural expression.”
- A parking lot for when the space is not accommodating the above uses.
This sale would culminate a nearly two-year agreement between the County Board and the building’s owner, South Oakland Street, LLC. In June 2019, the county agreed to one day purchase the property for $3.4 million on the condition it made three annual, non-refundable, payments to South Oakland Street to delay the final sale for up to three years.
For the last two years, the County Board opted to make the yearly payments. Now, county staff is advising the Board to buy the property. Staff also recommend that the county give tenants until Dec. 31 to relocate.
AFAC will not be moving far. The organization, with its main building at 2708 S. Nelson Street, is temporarily leasing the additional space while it renovates a warehouse next door, which it purchased last year.
“The building was in serious need of renovation which we began in January of this year,” AFAC Executive Director and CEO Charles Meng said. “Once our renovation is completed in September of this year we will be vacating 2700 and moving back to our renovated warehouse.”
Arts Group Pushing for New Venue — “As part of its recently adopted strategic plan, [Embracing Arlington Arts] plans to use the coming three years to build community support for a performing-arts venue that would include a black-box theater and ancillary classroom and office space. Efforts would also be made to identify a site and start raising funds.” [InsideNova]
APS Changing Student Camera Policy — “In response to challenges teachers are experiencing engaging students with cameras off, we have adapted our policy regarding the use of cameras during instruction time, based on input we have received from teachers, staff, parents, the Distance Learning Task Force, and advisory committee members. We are asking teachers to encourage students to turn on their cameras during synchronous instruction and while directly engaging with peers and staff.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Spotlight on Arlington Man’s Heroism — “A must read about Arlington’s Paris Davis, the former publisher of VA’s Metro Herald. His heroism in 1965, while commanding a Special Forces team in Vietnam, seems worthy of the Medal of Honor. But those who served with him say the Pentagon kept losing the paperwork.” [New York Times, Twitter]
Local Nonprofit’s Work Highlighted — “Mohammad Ahmed, 30, gave up working as an Uber driver in March for fear of infecting his wife, 3-year-old son and two elderly parents who live with him. When he couldn’t pay the rent or electric bill for their two-bedroom apartment in Arlington, a local charity funded mainly by taxpayer dollars stepped in.” [Washington Post]
Metro Reducing Rail Service — “Metro this week began reducing Metrorail service during peak commuting hours because of low usage while saying it will boost Metrobus service as new commuting trends emerge during the coronavirus pandemic. The transit agency referred to the changes as a way to ‘normalize’ rail service.” [Washington Post]
Local Economy Expected to Grow — “Greater Washington’s economy will rebound in 2021 as Covid-19 vaccinations become more common and the weather warms up, according to a new regional economic forecast released Friday. That means 3.5% growth in the gross regional product in 2021, a sharp rebound from the 2.9% drop in 2020. But the region will only see a full recovery in 2022, with 4.1% projected growth in the local economy.” [Washington Business Journal]
Many Office Workers Will Stay Remote — “Working in D.C. will continue to look different for the greater part of this year due to the coronavirus, a new study shows. Employers expect less than a third of their employees to physically be in the office in the first quarter of this year, but by the fall, they expect 75% of their staff to be back, according to a study.” [NBC 4, Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
Last month, the non-profit arts organization at 3550 Wilson Blvd in the Virginia Square area announced that it is conducting a national search to hire a new leader.
The search is being headed up by D.C.-based Good Insight, which specializes in recruiting executive-level talent for non-profits.
Former executive director Holly Koons departed in October to become director of the newly-opened Christopher Newport University Fine Arts Center in Newport News. Koons was with AAC for four years.
In the meantime, the arts center’s Board of Directors has named Blair Murphy, Curator of Exhibitions since 2018, to serve as acting director.
Murphy said the organization has received more than 75 applications so far for the position, which pays in the $90,000s, according to the job announcement.
She says that many applicants are local, but they have received qualified applicants from California, Washington, Indiana, and even internationally. Many of the applicants are professional arts administrators, but she says they have also gotten some from folks “who care about the arts personally but pursued another profession.”
The quality of applicants, Murphy writes, is impressive, though she noted that there is “no one perfect profile.”
The organization is looking for someone who will deepen the Arts Center’s impact in Arlington by strengthening community partnerships, raising visibility, and broadening support.
As one of the only dedicated venues for visual arts in the county, the Arlington Arts Center and its new director will need to be able to communicate with various types of audiences.
“Our new director will be someone who can connect with all of the audiences and communities we serve,” Murphy writes. “Adults and kids who participate in our education programs, art-lovers who come to see our exhibitions, and artists who exhibit in our galleries and participate in our residency program.”
The job listing also notes that the organization is in “stable immediate financial position” due largely to a PPP loan from 2020 and a bequest received in 2019. The annual budget has been in the range of $650,000 over the last several years, the listing says, which is supported by individuals, grants, foundations, and revenue from education programs and rentals.
There are currently three full time staffers but there’s room for at least two new hires in 2021, including the executive director.
One of those hires, Murphy tells ARLnow, would be to replace a recently-departed staff member who was in a marketing and administrative role. That is in addition to part-time, contract, and volunteer support as well as 15 to 20 class instructors.
The announcement requests that those applying for the executive director position do so by February 4 for “best consideration.” However, Murphy says that they will continue to review applications through the month and expects to announce the new hire in late spring.
Arlington Arts Center was founded in 1974 and is located in the historic former Maury School. The building is leased through a partnership with Arlington County; it holds nine exhibit galleries, studio space for artists, three classrooms, offices, and event rental space.
Currently, the galleries remain closed, but a public art project that first debuted in the summer remains on display on the front lawn. The project depicts 25 wooden slave ships formed from driftwood found in the Chesapeake Bay.
Overall, the arts scene in Arlington was decimated in 2020 due to the pandemic, losing more than $10 million in revenue.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Browder and Arlington Arts Center
The pandemic forced Adagio Ballet to close in May, but long-time assistant director Jennifer Ferrigno wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Out of the ashes of Adagio Ballet, Ferrigno and Adagio instructor Evelina Petkova have founded the Virginia Dance Conservatory.
“The closing of the business was a shock to us all,” Ferrigno said in an email. “When the announcement became public, we had kids and parents reaching out in tears, completely devastated by the news. [Petkova] and I decided we needed to do something for these kids and families whose lives have been turned upside down.”
Ferrigno said there was support from within the Adagio dance community to try to open a new dance school, despite the pandemic. The program is currently run out of the Knights of Columbus facility at 5115 Little Falls Road.
“It was a nerve wracking decision to make, but with both us and our husbands without work, kids sending us Instagram stories in tears, parents willing to do anything to help, we had to at least try,” Ferrigno said. “Today, two months later, and nothing short of a miracle, we are proud to announce that we have successfully opened Virginia Dance Conservatory in North Arlington.”
The Virginia Dance Conservatory provides classes in ballet, jazz, modern, tap and lyrical for novice through pre-professional dancers with both weekday and weekend class options, according to the school’s website.
As countless other business owners are discovering, Ferrigno is finding that reopening is not easy, and Ferrigno said it’s kept the ballet school owners on their toes.
“Opening a business during a global pandemic is not for the faint of heart,” Ferrigno said. “The only reason our doors are open is through an outpouring of community support and the willingness of so many to help us in one of the worst situations of our lives.
Ferrigno said the school is partnering with the Knights of Columbus to offer classes to their members and to the community at large. A portion of the fall tuition will be donated to the Arlington Community Foundation.
“We are working day and night to get the word out and provide a bit of relief to so many who had their dance home ripped away from them in June,” said Ferrigno. “We are doing what we can to ‘rise from the ashes’ and create a happy & safe place for dance families across North Arlington.”
Photo via Virginia Dance Conservatory/Facebook
This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
Recognizing the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on arts and culture organizations throughout the region, the Greater Washington Community Foundation and The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation have joined with seven other funders to launch the $1 million Arts Forward Fund to support arts and culture organizations in the D.C. region as they make essential shifts needed to continue their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to the nationwide movement for racial justice.
Arts Forward Fund will make grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to support short-term capacity-building, training, and innovation.
Arts Forward Fund will prioritize organizations that serve Black, Indigenous and other communities of color, and organizations with limited access to philanthropic capital. It will also prioritize requests that address longstanding racial inequities in organizations, in the arts and culture field, and in the broader community.
Arts and culture organizations with annual revenue of less than $10 million in their most recently completed fiscal year are eligible to apply, provided they serve the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax in Virginia.
Informational webinars will take place on August 14 and 20, in advance of the deadline for application. The application deadline is August 27, and grant decisions will be made on or before September 21. More details and the call for applications are available here.
‘BLM’ on Fairlington Bridge Restored — Residents of the Fairlington area used ties to restore a Black Lives Matters message on the bridge over I-395 over the weekend. The letters “BLM” had previously been placed on the bridge’s fence but later removed by an unknown party. Also this weekend, below the BLM letters someone scrawled “Trump 2020,” but that was later covered and “Black Lives Matter” written over it in chalk. [Twitter]
ACPD Details De-Escalation Training — “In response to community questions, ACPD has created this fact sheet highlighting how we train officers to de-escalate incidents and safely resolve situations.” [Twitter]
Update to Jim Pebley Obit — Per an email from former county treasurer Frank O’Leary: “You will be pleased to hear that, due to the actions of former commanders of our County’s namesake ship, it appears that Commander Pebley’s ashes will be spread at sea by the USS ARLINGTON. This is a singular honor and reflects the high respect the Navy feels for Jim. Nothing less than he deserves. There is an old adage, ‘The Navy takes care of its own.’ Perhaps, the same can be said of Arlington.”
Candidates on the Arts — “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.” [Press Release, Embracing Arlington Arts]
TTT Now Serving Unlimited Weekend Brunch — “There’s a new all-you-can eat brunch in town. TTT in Clarendon, which stands for Tacos, Tortas and Tequila, has joined its Street Guys Hospitality brethren, including beloved Ambar, in offering unlimited eats on weekend mornings.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Reminder: Metro Stations Back Open — “Metro plans to reopen the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations in Arlington, starting Sunday.” [ARLnow]
Nearby: Fairfax Teachers Revolt — “A day after one of the nation’s largest school systems announced its proposal for fall learning, teachers within Fairfax County Public Schools rose in revolt and refused to teach in-person, as the plan demands, until officials revise their strategy.” [Washington Post]
This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
With a centuries-long tradition of bringing people together in groups large and small, the impact on the Arts has been seismic.
Arlington Arts continues to pro-actively look out for resources to assist arts organizations, arts administrators and individual artists impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Here is just a sample of resources available to performers and artists of all disciplines who have been impacted by the pandemic.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Arts Funding: Update and Action items from Grantmakers in the Arts.
- Field-wide responses & calls to action
- Racial equality & justice response
- Webinars, articles & resources
- Information hubs
- Rapid Response & Emergency Funds
Coronavirus Resources for Artists, Creative Workers & Organizations from Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists.
- Emergency Relief Fund Resources for Individuals
- Emergency Resources for Organizations
- Links to other resource pages
- Principles for Ethical Cancellation
Workforce Relief, Charitable Giving Incentives, and NEA Funding Included in Third COVID-19 Relief Package.
- The Association of Performing Arts Professionals and League of American Orchestras have sourced key points and are providing an in-depth analysis of the relief package
Resources for COVID-19 Crisis from Embracing Arlington Arts.
- Well-being of ourselves
- Financial Assistance
- Continuing Programming Through the Community
- Pro-Bono/In-Kind Expertise Available
For a full list of resources, visit and bookmark our web page. Updates will be provided as new resources become available.
Labor Rule Violations Alleged at Temporary HQ2 Projects — “A union is charging that employers at six construction projects that will house Amazon employees or operations in Northern Virginia have evaded federal and state taxes by misclassifying workers, failing to carry workers’ compensation coverage and avoiding overtime pay.” [Washington Post]
Beyer Voting Yes on Impeachment — “The facts allow for no other interpretation: President Trump violated his oath of office to faithfully execute the laws. In order to cover up his offenses, he engaged in unprecedented obstruction of Congress’s oversight power and role as an equal branch of government.” [Press Release]
Voting Precinct Changes Planned — “Voters in two Arlington precincts will see their polling locations changed in 2020. Those in Overlee Knolls (Precinct 017) will move from the Reed School at 1644 North McKinley Road… Those in Rosslyn (Precinct 019) will move from 1911 Fort Myer Drive to the new H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program building.” [InsideNova]
How Arlington’s Streets Got Renamed — “If you harbor gripes that our county government gets too ambitious, consider an episode from the 1930s. In what probably ranks as the most disruptive Arlington project ever, our entire street grid was renamed.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Road Closures for Wreaths Across America — “The annual Wreaths Across America escort of handmade, balsam wreaths destined for Arlington National Cemetery will begin arriving in Arlington County on Friday… On Saturday, December 14th, several thousand volunteers will descend upon the Cemetery and help lay wreaths on every gravesite throughout the property beginning at 8 AM. The public can anticipate large crowds and heavy pedestrian traffic related to the event.” [Arlington County, YouTube]
Holiday Arts and Crafts Show in Crystal City This Weekend — “GRUMP is back for its 9th year, returning to The Shops at Crystal City at 2100 Crystal Drive. GRUMP Crystal City is where you can shop local from 50 exciting artists and makers and stop for a photo op with one of our many Yetis.” [Event Calendar]
Nearby: Police Warn of Abduction Attempt — “City of Falls Church Police are seeking a suspect in an attempted abduction… The suspect is wanted for questioning after he approached a juvenile outside of a grocery store and told the juvenile to leave with him. The suspect left when the juvenile’s mother returned.” [City of Falls Church]
This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
The Arts are rooted in entrepreneurship. That’s why Arlington Arts has been a stalwart supporter of the GRUMP Holiday Art and Craft Show: an annual showcase featuring more than 50 vendors and the best in unique handmade gifts and treats!
Offered in partnership with the Crystal City BID, JBG Smith and Arlington Arts, it’s a great example of how Arlington County connects the business and creative sectors. In advance of this year’s event on Saturday, December 14, we chatted with co-creator Tina Henry-Barrus about the continued evolution of the nine-year-old seasonal show!
How did Grump come about?
Beth Baldwin and I became friends while selling our handmade stuff at various local arts and crafts shows. One show, Crafty Bastards, was in the early fall and I thought that the area needed a similar fair during the holidays. I called Beth and said, “Hey, wanna attempt a holiday show of our own?” You should always have a friend who will say yes to your weird ideas.
What’s with the name?
When I asked Beth if she wanted to put on a show with me, the word GRUMP popped into my head. She laughed when I said it, so I knew it would work. It wasn’t until the second year that we added the Yeti mascot. Kids started showing up to get their photo taken with the Yeti and would ask me “Where’s GRUMP?” So now GRUMP is both the name of our show and the name of our Yeti mascot.
How did the partnership with Arlington County take shape?
Beth Baldwin was an Artist in Residence at Artisphere and she worked with staff to move GRUMP there, where it blossomed over several years. Arlington Arts has been such a valuable cheerleader for us. We wouldn’t have made it to year 9 without them!
How do you describe GRUMP to a first-time attendee?
GRUMP isn’t your grandma’s craft show, but it also isn’t super hipster either. The indoor GRUMP show has 40-60 local vendors, 3 or 4 workshops to inspire you to make something, and many Yetis for photo ops. The Yeti is a really fun part of our event. Last year we had a Yeti Board Meeting that folks could watch. This year, the Yetis will judge an ornament-making contest, kind of like The Great British Baking Show.
How is it different than other holiday shopping opportunities?
Our show is highly curated to not only our tastes but to the tastes of our shoppers. Yes, we know who they are! We also try to make sure our vendors are all really kind and lovely and fun to meet. Add in the workshops and Yeti photo ops and you have a really fun day.
What’s the best reaction you’ve ever had from a patron?
The patrons’ reactions to the Yetis never get old, but honestly, I mostly love the patrons who become vendors. The idea that our little idea encouraged someone to get creative and make something is really meaningful to us.
Find out how you’ll react when you attend GRUMP Holiday Art and Craft Show, on Saturday, December 14 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The event takes place at 2100-B Crystal Drive, Arlington VA 22202 (in the former TechShop venue). You can take the Metro to Crystal City and follow the signs to GRUMP, or drive and park in the garage for free.
School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]
Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]
Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]
ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]
Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]
Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]
Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]
Auditor Looking at Economic Development Funds — “Are economic-incentive funds provided to corporations by the Arlington County government being doled out in accordance with agreements? The county government’s auditor is going to take a look… The audit, already under way, will look only at whether terms of agreements are being complied with; overall effectiveness of the sometimes controversial economic-incentive policy ‘is not part of the scope.'” [InsideNova]
Suspicious Letter at Fort Myer — “Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall police and other agencies investigated a suspicious letter this afternoon that was delivered on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base. It was determined to not have any dangerous substance on or in it.” [Twitter]
Lauding Arlington’s Retiring Election Chief — “As her tenure as director of elections approaches its end, Linda Lindberg on June 18 was honored by Arlington County Board members for her service. Lindberg — who has served in Arlington’s elections office since 1994 and has been registrar since 2003 — has delivered ‘an outstanding career of public service,’ County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey said during a ceremony marking her tenure.” [InsideNova]
Arts Group Applauds Arts Plan — “Embracing Arlington Arts – an independent citizens group comprised of Arlington arts supporters – applauds the County Board for formally adopting Arlington’s Strategic Plan for the arts – “Enriching Lives” at their Board meeting [on] June 18. This well-researched plan brought together arts professionals, experts, stakeholders and citizens in its development.” [Press Release]
Arlington Developer Plans Senior Projects — “A multifamily developer is making a $200 million senior living play, with five such projects coming together under the company’s new Aspire brand, and potentially more on the way in the Mid-Atlantic. Arlington, Virginia-based Bonaventure has communities under construction or development across the commonwealth, in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Richmond.” [Senior Housing News]
New Solar Co-op — “Neighbors in Arlington County (including Alexandria… and Fairfax County) have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, with the help of nonprofit Solar United Neighbors. Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, EcoAction Arlington, and Virginia Clean Cities are sponsoring the co-op.” [Press Release]
Arlington Tech Co. Gets New CEO — Rosslyn-based Snag, “the country’s largest and fastest-growing platform for hourly work, announced today new changes to its executive leadership team. Mathieu Stevenson has been appointed Chief Executive Officer… Stevenson will lead the company forward, with Rosati’s active involvement, to realize Snag’s mission of revolutionizing how hourly workers and employers connect.” [Snag]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin