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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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]
April 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.
Arlington County announced earlier this week that it’s accepting applications in an effort to select the county’s first poet laureate.
Booing at Meeting About I-66 Tolling — VDOT representatives were booed by residents at a meeting about the plan to convert I-66 to high occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway. VDOT wants to have the tolling in place by 2017. In addition to residents, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is skeptical of the plan, worried that it may discourage travel at Dulles International Airport. [InsideNova, WTOP]
Opera Troupe Leaving Arlington — Forced to find a new home due to the closure of Artisphere in Rosslyn, the opera troupe UrbanArias will perform at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE in D.C. during its 2015-2016 season. [InsideNova]
Barbie Doll Convention Held in Crystal City — More than 1,000 collectors descended on Crystal City for the 2015 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention last week. The event included auditions for a Barbie-themed Broadway production. [Daily Mail]
Marine Completes Hand-Cycle Journey to Arlington — Double amputee Marine veteran Toran Gaal completed his cross-country ride to Arlington National Cemetery this past weekend. Gaal made the more than 3,000 mile journey, which raised money for other wounded Marines, on a hand-cycle. [NBC Washington, Stars and Stripes]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
School Bus Stop Violations in Arlington — There were 155 traffic violations issued over a three year period in Arlington for drivers who passed school buses at bus stops. That compares 655 such violations issued in Fairfax County over a three year period. [NBC Washington]
County Board Art Debate? — The operatic organization Opera Nova is trying to host a forum among Democratic Arlington County Board candidates that will cover the topics of the arts, humanities and civic engagement. Should the candidates accept their invitation, the candidate forum will be held on Friday, June 5, just a few days before the June 9 Democratic primary. [InsideNova]
40 Under 40 Nominations Underway — Leadership Arlington is currently accepting nominees for its Arlington 40 Under 40 honors. The group is seeking individuals under the age of 40 who “demonstrate impact through leadership personally and/or professionally.” Nominations are being conducted online. [Survey Monkey]
Chamber Names ‘Business of the Year’ — Rosslyn-based LMO Advertising, which bills itself at the largest advertising agency in the D.C. area, has been named Business of the Year by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. “Our team loves working in Arlington and I am proud that we have been recognized as one of the community’s best businesses,” LMO CEO Chris Laughlin said, in a press release. “I look forward to many more years of doing business in Arlington.” [LMO Advertising]
Photo courtesy Valerie
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
Arts Center Gets Warhol Grant — The Arlington Arts Center has received a $70,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “Funding from the Foundation will increase AAC’s capacity to support and present the work of new artists and spur the development of new initiatives and exhibitions,” AAC said in a press release. “Programming support of this scale makes new programs possible, like one for rising curators, while also furthering the ongoing work of the arts center.”
Bicycle Billboard Towers Sought — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association and BikeArlington are seeking bike ambassadors for a safety campaign. Volunteers will ride around Arlington while towing a large, wheeled billboard that tells drivers to pass bikes with at least three feet of space. The sign also encourages all road users to be predictable, alert and lawful. [WABA]
Arlington Couple Get Baby Wish Times Three — The Washington Post’s “This Life” feature profiles an Arlington couple who had trouble conceiving a child when, all of a sudden, fate blessed them with three via various means. [Washington Post]
Voting Machines May Go Old School — As part of a state-wide switch, Arlington election officials are considering replacing all touch screen voting machines with digital optical scan machines in time for the 2016 presidential election. The new machines will utilize what is fundamentally an old-school voting method: scanning paper ballots, which then leaves a paper trail for recounts. [InsideNova]
Jane Goodall to Speak at Marymount Benefit — Famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will speak at a benefit event for Arlington’s Marymount University this spring. The event is taking place at DAR Constitution Hall on Friday, April 17. Ticket proceeds will “help establish a fund at Marymount that will enhance the work of volunteerism and community engagement.” [Marymount University]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Artisphere is very likely to close on June 30, barring a change of heart from the majority of the Arlington County Board, and while many agree with the Board’s decision, the local art scene is lamenting the loss.
Artisphere — with multiple theaters for programming of everything from local orchestras to international groups with experimental sounds and galleries for its free visual art displays — will continue operating as planned, Executive Director Jose Ortiz said.
“The show must go on,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “It was definitely a disappointing decision … We have programs that are planned and on the books, from exhibitions and performances to rentals. The items that are on the books must continue.”
ARLnow.com’s unscientific poll yesterday asked readers if they agreed with County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommendation to close Artisphere at the end of the fiscal year. Some 57 percent of poll respondents — out of nearly 3,000 votes — said they agree with the decision. Ortiz said he didn’t necessarily disagree with it.
“Barbara said it. This was a business decision,” he said.
Some critics of the move are calling it “short-sighted,” alluding to the multimedia center’s uptick in both revenues and visitors in the past year or more. Donnellan said the theater would require $2 million or more per year to stay open, but vowed to continue the revitalization efforts in Rosslyn.
“In an era when communities throughout the country and especially in the D.C. area have used arts and culture to successfully revitalize neighborhoods, Donnellan’s recommendation to close the county’s most vital cultural asset is both shocking and remarkably short-sighted,” wrote Phil Hutinet, editor of D.C. arts website East City Art.
Ortiz started at Artisphere four months after it opened to lots of hype and hope the it would be revenue neutral. He said he would have “helped people understand what Artisphere was” if he had been involved from the beginning. Still, he said, he’s proud of the four years of programming the center has showcased.
“My hope is people will remember us because they were part of a project or they attended something here that blew their minds,” he said.
A full statement from Oritz on Artisphere’s closing, after the jump: (more…)
NBC4 ‘Celebrates’ Arlington — NBC4 reporter Angie Goff anchored a series of segments about Arlington this morning. Goff broadcast live from Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike, and had a number of on-air guests. One segment — “celebrating romance in Arlington” — featured a bartender from Carpool in Ballston, County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes and a rousing game of cornhole. [NBC Washington]
Neighbors Remember Boy Killed By Car — Neighbors are remembering 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary School student Eli Sachar, who was killed over the weekend when he and other family members were struck by a car in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. No charges have been filed against the driver so far, though the crash remains under investigation. [WJLA]
Arlington Teens Injured in Charlottesville Stabbing — Two 19-year-old men from Arlington were stabbed in Charlottesville Saturday night. The victims were both visiting friends at UVA for the weekend. A witness said the incident started when someone threw a beer can in the direction of the two suspects. [NBC 29]
Board to Consider Art Grants — The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider nearly $200,000 in art grants. The Arlington Commission for the Arts has recommended the grants be distributed to 20 different local recipients. [Arlington County]
Bus Lights Bush on Fire — Firefighters responded to the Exxon station at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street in Rosslyn yesterday for a report of a bush on fire. The fire was quickly extinguished, though a section of bush was denuded by the combination of flames and high water pressure. The fire was caused when a bus backed into the bush and the heat from the engine caused the shrubbery to combust. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber