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The Lubber Run Amphitheater free summer concert series is back, with the first show set for this Friday.

A total of 29 performances are scheduled between now and Sunday, Aug. 14.

The amphitheater, located near the intersection of N. Columbus Street and 2nd Street N., is an outdoor, open-air space, run by Arlington County to provide family-friendly shows in the summer.

The first show in the lineup is a concert from Mark G. Meadows, a jazz musician, and his band The Movement, along with singer Kanysha Williams. It is set to take place this Friday at 8 p.m. They are expected to feature songs “Moon River” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

The series has scheduled jazz, blues and rock performances, as well as theater, orchestra, a marching band and a puppet show. No shows are currently scheduled for Sunday, June 19, as the amphitheater is closed for Juneteenth.

The shows are open to all members of the family. Audience members are welcome to picnic at the venue, although alcohol is not allowed and smoking discouraged, according to a press release.

Unless otherwise specified, the concerts are set to take place at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. on Sundays. Bad weather may cancel shows, in which case information will be posted on Arlington Arts’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Concertgoers can visit the venue’s website or call 703-228-1850 for more information about the schedule of the day.

This summer’s scheduled shows are below.

  • Friday, June 10: Mark G. Meadows and The Movement, Kanysha Williams
  • Saturday, June 11: Aaron Myers
  • Sunday, June 12: Dan and Claudia Zanes
  • Friday, June 17: Stacy Brooks
  • Saturday, June 18: Bumper Jacksons
  • Friday, June 24: David Chappell and Friends
  • Saturday, June 25: The 19th Street Band
  • Sunday, June 26: Tale Wise: “Pirates Lost at Sea!”
  • Sunday, June 26: Arlington Philharmonic (4 p.m.)
  • Friday, July 1: Griefcat
  • Saturday, July 2: Elikeh
  • Sunday, July 3: Mr. Gabe & Holly
  • Friday, July 8: The Fuss
  • Saturday, July 9: Joe Keyes & The Late Bloomer Band
  • Sunday, July 10: Cody Clark Magic: “Railroad Submarine!”
  • Friday, July 15: Desanguashington
  • Saturday, July 16: King Soul
  • Sunday, July 17: Happenstance Theater: “Pinot & Augustine”
  • Friday, July 22: Wicked Sycamore
  • Saturday, July 23: Soul Crackers
  • Sunday, July 24: Rainbow Rock Band
  • Friday, July 29: Carly Harvey
  • Saturday, July 30: Veronneau presents Blue Tapestry
  • Sunday, July 31: Encore Stage & Studio presents “A Sidewalk Stroll!”
  • Friday, August 5: Avant Bard Theatre, Encore Stage & Studio, Dominion Stage and The Arlington Players
  • Saturday, August 6: Avant Bard Theatre, Encore Stage & Studio, Dominion Stage and The Arlington Players
  • Sunday, August 7: Avant Bard Theatre, Encore Stage & Studio, Dominion Stage and The Arlington Players. (6 p.m.)
  • Thursday, August 11: The 257th Army Band, The Band of the Nation’s Capital. (8 p.m.)
  • Friday, August 12: National Chamber Ensemble
  • Saturday, August 13: Karen Jonas
  • Sunday, August 14: Blue Sky Puppets: “The Three Not So Little Pigs”
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Arlington arts organizations may have lost as much as $10 million in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they were able to get by with help from friends of the arts.

Many arts groups in the county reported losing 41-60% of their expected income, according to Embracing Arlington Arts, a group of local residents who work toward bolstering the arts in the county. But the arts organizations survived on a combination of government and private grants, generous locals and virtual performances.

“Most arts groups had no earned revenue,” said Janet Kopenhaver, the founder of Embracing Arlington Arts. “While they were offering these virtual things, you can’t charge what you would normally charge for a ticket. You had to depend on your donors and the donors came through.”

The National Chamber Ensemble, which sold season tickets for virtual concerts, said Zoom and donations from patrons helped the group stay in tune.

“We had wine and cheese receptions over Zoom with the audience,” said the ensemble’s artistic director and first violinist Leo Sushansky. “Everything balanced each other out because virtually a whole family could watch with one ticket, but people who didn’t live nearby like in England or New York could attend performances also.”

Arlington-based Synetic Theatre’s Managing Director Jason Najjoum said the theater also received generous donations.

“Our individual donors continued or increased their support, which says as much about the work we do as the Northern Virginia/Greater Washington community we call home,” Najjoum said. “We were able to keep our staff fully employed, and even added a couple of team members.”

Groups accessed the county’s annual arts grant program, small business grants from the county, and the more-competitive state and federal arts grants funding, Kopenhaver said. Arts groups could also cash in on federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Najjoum said Synetic relied heavily on PPP funding to create a custom streaming website and app.

“None of this would have been possible without significant government support,” he said. “It was hard won by countless lobbyists and advocates, but the local, state and federal government really stepped up and provided the support we needed.”

Amazon contributed too, donating to several area arts organizations, including Synetic.

“We were able to support the acutely affected freelance arts worker class through an artist relief program that provided $60,000 in support to 32 arts workers,” noted Najjoum.

But artists are still uncertain about what the future holds for them in Arlington.

“The question remains: with government support ending, will ticket sales come back strong enough to replace it, especially given that our upfront production expenses will also be up? Producing theater has always been very expensive,” he said. “This will only work at the bottom line if audiences and donors increase their support going forward.”

Challenges ahead 

Although many arts organizations weathered the shutdowns, a perennial issue facing these groups has resurfaced: space.

“We need a cultural center — a vibrant, busy venue. It would be a game changer,” said Kopenhaver. “We are losing arts groups because of lack of venue. It’s a critical issue.”

A few have already left because they cannot perform in middle schools, which she said is where most perform — away from transit, restaurants and other walkable amenities.

Embracing Arlington Arts is working with developers to create a flexible space in an area with more amenities that can accommodate arts audiences.

“We fear, if the venues keep dwindling, there will be nowhere to perform,” Kopenhaver said. “At a middle school you can’t have receptions, you can’t have alcohol, you can’t have talk backs, which are becoming popular, because the janitors are kicking you out.”

On top of that, the child-sized restrooms are uncomfortable for the patrons, many of whom are retirees, she said.

Synetic’s venue in Crystal City has been in high demand during the pandemic, and has been used for church services, film shoots and pageants, said Najjoum. But with more performances, Synetic needs its space back.

Meanwhile, the National Chamber Ensemble has been out of a concert hall for four years, after the county-run Rosslyn Spectrum (part of the now-defunct Artisphere) was closed to the public. The ensemble now performs at Gunston Arts Center or the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, along with other performing arts organizations.

When the pandemic hit, and those venues shut down, Sushansky said patrons opened up their homes.

“We went to the private homes of our patrons and these people had marvelous instruments,” he said. Still, he added, “it would certainly be nice to have our own space. It has to be a collaboration of the county.”

And COVID-19 remains a persistent threat.

Following the lead of Broadway theaters and other local D.C. arts venues, Synetic will require proof of full vaccination, either physically or digitally, or a negative PCR test, for the rest of the year. Audiences will have to wear masks at all times, except while eating or drinking. It will continue streaming its performances.

The National Chamber Ensemble is waiting to see the guidance closer to the start of the season on Nov. 6. Sushansky said he delayed the opening in hopes that coronavirus cases will go down. He says he’s eager to resume in person concerts again, but will retain the virtual option for those who are still not comfortable coming out.

“I wanted to create something for my community, so I can’t wait for communication in-person to resume,” he said. “It’s really special performing for the Arlington audience.”

The following is a round-up of upcoming shows from local arts organizations, organized by the type of performance.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Free Vax Shots for Kids Ages 12-15 — “Arlington County will begin to administer free COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 12-15 years of age who live or are schooled in Arlington beginning Saturday, May 15. This follows the expansion of Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to children 12 and over… Approximately 8,000 children aged 12-15 live in Arlington. Arlington will offer Saturday through Monday clinics over the next two weekends for children 12-17 years of age to help meet anticipated demand for the vaccine.” [Arlington County]

Blowback Over Summer School Limits — “Arlington school leaders are getting abuse from both ends when it comes to criticism of newly announced summer-school restrictions. A group that has pressed Arlington schools leaders for a faster reopening of classes says new limitations show a continued lack of leadership, while at the same time the Arlington Education Association is blasting school leaders for throwing teachers under the bus on the issue.” [Sun Gazette, NBC 4]

Neighborhood ‘Toolkits’ on Race — “Arlington County today released a set of new tools to help advance racial equity efforts in Arlington. The collection of neighborhood toolkits and data dashboards are products of the County’s Realizing Arlington’s Commitment to Equity (RACE) program… The Toolkits for Conversations on Race & Equity are self-guided programs that can be used to spark conversations with family, friends, and neighbors.” [Arlington County]

Lubber Run Performances Return — “After being closed for the entirety of the summer 2020 season due to the pandemic, the Arlington County government’s Lubber Run Amphitheatre will host free programming in July and August. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 11 a.m. The season opens with blues singer-songwriter Chris Pierce performing on Friday, July 9.” [Sun Gazette]

Beyer Suicide Bill Passes — “You’ve heard of 911 for emergencies and 411 for information. Now the House of Representatives is debating a bill that could educate people about a new number for the National Suicide Hotline, 988. Colleen Creighton at the American Association of Suicidology says a bill introduced by Congressman Don Beyer will help spread the word about the new hotline.” [WVTF, Twitter]

Nearby: New Owner for McLean Shopping Center — “McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center has changed hands for the first time since the early 1980s… ‘Chesterbrook Center is well positioned for significant growth and perfectly aligns with our Northern Virginia strategy,’ Barry Carty, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of East Coast acquisitions, said.” [Tysons Reporter]

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(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Arlington officials estimate that Monday’s flash flooding caused $3.5 million in damage to county infrastructure, particularly bridges in local parks.

As of last night, the an Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman said the department was aware of “at least six pedestrian bridges adjacent to the Four Mile Run stream and one storage building at Bon Air Park” which have been washed away.

Restrooms, playgrounds and picnic tables along local streams also sustained damage and “a few community centers experienced minor to moderate flooding,” though the community centers all remained open with “no major operational impacts,” we’re told.

The parks department damage assessment was updated Tuesday late afternoon to include the following:

  • Six pedestrian bridges adjacent to the Four Mile Run stream — one at Bon Air Park, two at Lubber Run Park, two at Glencarlyn Park and one at Gulf Branch Nature Center — were destroyed. Additionally, a bridge near the Glencarlyn Dog Park and one at Holmberg Park were damaged
  • The following picnic shelters are closed through Friday (July 12): Bluemont Park, Bon Air Park, Glencarlyn Park
  • Playgrounds at numerous parks lost safety surface in the flooding; as a result, Glencarlyn Park playground remains closed until further notice
  • A storage building at Bon Air Park was destroyed
  • James Hunter Dog Park [near Shirlington] experienced flooding and DPR is evaluating the fountain
  • The County’s Trails saw debris and dirt; Four Mile Run Trail suffered some asphalt damage

“The Department of Parks and Recreation is working to make our areas safe and operational as soon as possible after Arlington’s parks saw considerable damage on Monday,” said spokeswoman Martha Holland. “DPR is still working on gathering damage assessments from the storm, and some facilities may be closed as cleaning and repairs begin.”

Photos and video also shows damage along Lubber Run, near the amphitheater. A torrent of muddy water can be seen rushing through the park; pedestrian bridges were washed away, though the amphitheater itself was spared.

Foot bridges along even tiny babbling brooks were no match for raging floodwaters. One such wooden bridge connecting Chesterbrook Road and N. Vermont Street in the Old Glebe neighborhood was washed off its foundation and blocked off by caution tape this morning.

A couple of Arlington libraries were also impacted.

“The auditorium at Central Library sustained water damage and all programs are canceled this week,” Arlington Public Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist told ARLnow. “Central Library opened up on schedule today.”

“Cherrydale Branch Library closed early yesterday due to flooding and power outages,” Sundqvist added. “We expect to open on time today.”

Arlington County has closed two roads that suffered damage to the road surface as a result of the flooding: until repairs can be made, 18th Street N. is closed between N. Lexington and McKinley streets, while 20th Street N. is closed at George Mason Drive.

“There’s no other significant damage to facilities at this time, but assessments are ongoing,” said county spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith.

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Morning Notes

Snow Likely Tonight — An inch or two of snow may fall overnight tonight. Snow is also possible Sunday. [Capital Weather Gang]

Clement Running for County Board Again — “She’s been a familiar name and face in local elections for nearly a decade, and Audrey Clement has made it onto the ballot again for 2019. Clement filed all requisite paperwork to run for County Board as an independent, Arlington election officials confirmed.” [InsideNova]

Lee Highway Revitalization Process Chugs Along — “Neighborhood activists… turned out Feb. 12 to execute ‘The Arlington Way’ and put in their two cents on how to create a theme for the multi-ingredient pudding that has characterized Lee Highway since it was so-named nearly a century ago.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Ballston Apartment Project Update — “Saul anticipates substantial completion of its massive North Glebe Road project by early 2020. The $275 million development will include 490 apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail — small-format Target included — across 2.8 acres.” [Washington Business Journal]

Dim Sum Restaurant Closes in Seven Corners — “Fortune is closed for good. Always an awkward space in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot, but I know it was a special spot for many.” [Twitter]

Lubber Run to Become Smoke-Free — Thanks to a change in state law, Lubber Run Amphitheater could be smoke-free by the end of the year. The state has until now prohibited Arlington County from being able to enforce a smoking ban at the venue. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy David Ruckman

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