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‘Wonder Woman’ Behind Heavy Rosslyn Traffic?

Traffic on N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn is backed up to the Marine Corps War Memorial as of 10 a.m. this morning.

The unusually-heavy, post-rush-hour traffic may be due in part to road closures across the Key Bridge in Georgetown, where Wonder Woman 2 is currently filming. (See tweets, below.)

Police are posted at the busy intersection of N. Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd to help control traffic.

Adding to the driving woes, a crash between a bus and another vehicle was reported on Lynn Street around 9:30 a.m.

Update at 10:30 a.m. — The backups have largely cleared up.

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Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse Summer Movie Series Presents Solo: A Star Wars Story

On Memorial Day weekend, Solo: A Star Wars Story opens nationwide and at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.

As part of the Arlington Drafthouse summer first release series — we are thrilled to feature this highly anticipated film.

The Arlington Drafthouse is the most unique social experience to enjoy the next installment of Lucas Films’ Star Wars anthology series. The early reviews are in and there is reason for excitement… and intrigue.

“Bold” is how Entertainment Tonight describes this film, hinting that there are many surprise twists that deeply affect the Star Wars universe. ET cautions not to read any spoilers before seeing the film. Not to worry no spoilers here.

“Exceeded Expectations” is how One Minute Movie Review describes the film. Having first been worried because of the change of directors mid filming to Ron Howard — One Minute Movie Review declares this film their favorite of all the Star Wars films produced by Disney.

“This is the Chewbacca Movie” is how Ron Weston from ET describes positively describes the film. He says it is a “heist” movie set in the Star Wars universe. Which also sets up sequels for the Solo franchise.

“Fresh” is how Rotten Tomatoes rates the film, although a 70% fresh rating is lower than the Last Jedi’s 91% rating. Rotten Tomatoes says, “A flawed yet fun and fast-paced space adventure, Solo: A Star Wars Story should satisfy newcomers to the saga as well as longtime fans who check their expectations at the theater door.”

Generally, reviews have commented that this was the film that “no one wanted” but first reviewers are glad we got it. After about 30 minutes the film takes off and is an adventure. Expect surprises and deep connections to the Star Wars universe. Also expect sequels.

Join us at the Arlington Drafthouse to experience Solo: A Star Wars Story. We will have drink specials for adults and families.

We hope to see you at the Arlington Drafthouse this summer for first release films. The Incredibles 2 follows Solo at the Arlington Drafthouse on June 14.

Please purchase tickets online in advance. We do not show ads or trailers so the movie start time is the actual start time. Please arrive early.

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Morning Notes

Water Disinfectant Switch — With the annual pipe spring cleaning complete, the Washington Aqueduct will be switching back to chloramine as its water disinfectant after today. [ARLnow]

Car-B-Que on the Pike — A car caught fire on Columbia Pike between S. Oakland and Quincy streets Friday night. The road was closed while firefighters extinguished the blaze. [Twitter, Twitter]

Auction Item Prompts Mini Controversy — Ethical concerns were raised over the weekend by an item donated by State Sen. Barbara Favola (D) to an auction at the annual Fairfax Democrats dinner. The winning bidder was promised an official introduction on the state Senate floor. Favola responded by saying she was “horrified” and that she “never approved this auction item.” [Twitter, Twitter, Blue Virginia]

Choun Profiled By VOA — Democratic Arlington County Board candidate Chanda Choun had his campaign highlighted by the Voice of America. [Voice Of America]

Nearby: Wonder Woman and J-D Highway — Two items of note in Alexandria: first, Wonder Woman 2 is set to film some scenes at the Landmark Mall. Also, Alexandria is replacing signs marking Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) with its new name in the city: Richmond Highway. [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]

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JBG Smith Seeking Feedback on Crystal City ‘Central District’ Development

(Updated at 8:30 p.m.) An older office building in Crystal City may be converted into apartments, and developer JBG Smith is soliciting public feedback on the project.

JBG Smith is looking to convert a 12-story office building at 1750 Crystal Drive into a 21-story residential building. The building, across from the Crystal City Water Park, would be 257 feet in height.

In the first phase of the “Central District” project, a new 74,000 square foot, street facing retail area would be built, reportedly anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The retail area may also include a smaller-format grocery store, like a Trader Joe’s.

A JBG Smith presentation says the project would include “delivery of nine screen Alamo Drafthouse Theater that shows first run and art house films as well as dining, entertainment, and event space hosting.” According to the feedback website, JBG is hoping to start construction in the fall and to have the theater open by the spring of 2020.

As part of the project, a two story, 16,000 square foot retail building would be built at the corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive — next to a proposed second Crystal City Metro entrance — with renderings showing an sizable outdoor dining area adjacent to it.

Feedback from JBG’s online portal is helping to shape the development, said a representative for the company that created the portal.

“It’s a new approach for the developer, which added online outreach to the traditional process involving community meetings,” said the rep. “Over 1,600 people have interacted with the Central District at Crystal City website… Based on the feedback, JBG Smith has committed to providing seating, plantings, and seasonal events in the plaza.”

“The developer is also recruiting a full-service grocery store, which online voters said was the most important element to make the spot a neighborhood destination,” he added.

An open house on the Crystal City Block Plan “G” and Metro Market Square, which will plan open space and retail around the existing and new Metro entrances, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21.

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Morning Notes

Vigil for Parkland — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) was among those to speak at a candlelight vigil last night in Falls Church for the victims of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. Beyer spoke in favor of stricter gun control measures. [Blue Virginia]

Police Investigate Sound of Gunshots — Arlington County Police investigated a report of shots fired near the intersection of Lee Highway and Glebe Road Friday night. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Fmr. Arlington Resident Convicted of Murder — “A jury found a man guilty of multiple counts related to an execution-style shooting that killed three people in a D.C. park in 1991. Benito Valdez, 47, formerly of Arlington, Virginia, was found guilty of first-degree murder while armed.” [WTOP]

Theater’s Pre-Oscar Deal — With the Academy Awards now less than two weeks away, the Regal cinema in Ballston is offering a special deal: a $35 pass to see all nine films nominated for Best Picture. [Patch]

Flyover This Morning — A military flyover is scheduled just after 11 a.m. this morning for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Theme Chosen for Columbia Pike’s Summer Movie Series

(Updated at 6 p.m.) A free movie series is returning to Columbia Pike this summer, with a showing of a music-oriented film every weekend from June 1 through Sept. 1.

The series, called “The Music of the Movies: Oscar Scores and Classic Musicals,” will screen the films outdoors on Fridays at the Arlington Mill Community Center and Saturdays at Penrose Square.

The film series is sponsored by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) and the Signature Theatre.

Signature is thrilled to support the 2018 Columbia Pike Movie Nights, which will bring the magic of great classic musicals to the big screen for free to the Arlington community this summer,” said Eric Schaeffer, the Signature Theatre’s artistic director, through a CPRO press release.

Several movies will be classics like Grease, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music, but movies as recently-released as the Pixar-produced Coco will be screened as well.

Here’s the 2018 movie series schedule:

  • June 1 — Grease (Arlington Mill)
  • June 2 — Hairspray (Penrose Square)
  • June 8 — Chicago (Arlington Mill)
  • June 9 — The Color Purple (Penrose Square)
  • June 15 — Into the Woods (Arlington Mill)
  • June 16 — Dreamgirls (Penrose Square)
  • June 22 — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Arlington Mill)
  • June 23 — O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Penrose Square)
  • June 29 — Batman (1999) (Arlington Mill)
  • June 30 — Batman (1989) (Penrose Square)
  • July 6 — Mary Poppins (Arlington Mill)
  • July 7 — Dick Tracy (Penrose Square)
  • July 13 — The Sound of Music (Arlington Mill)
  • July 14 — The Sound of Music (Penrose Square)
  • July 20 — Toy Story (Arlington Mill)
  • July 21 — Singin’ in the Rain (Penrose Square)
  • July 27 — Coco (Arlington Mill)
  • July 28 — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 3 — Jailhouse Rock (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 4 — The Music Man (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 10 — Beauty and The Beast (1991) (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 11 — Beauty and The Beast (1991) (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 17 — Young Frankenstein (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 18 — Young Frankenstein (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 24 — West Side Story (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 25 — West Side Story (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 31 — The Wizard of Oz (Arlington Mill)
  • Sept. 1 — The Wizard of Oz (Penrose Square)

Photo via Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization

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Drafthouse to Show ‘The Princess Bride’ on Valentine’s Day

Next week the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse will be hosting an alternative to the traditional Valentine’s Day sit-down dinner: stand-up comedy and a showing of “The Princess Bride”

There will be two showings of both on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Doors will first open at 6 p.m., with the stand-up starting at 7 p.m. and the movie beginning at 7:30 p.m. For the second showing, doors will open at 9:30 p.m., the stand-up will start at 9:45 p.m. and the screening will begin at 10:15 p.m.

Tickets are value-priced, according to the Drafthouse’s website.

“Only $10 — inconceivable!” the website says.

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Rosebud Film Festival Set For This Weekend

The Rosebud Film Festival, which honors the “innovative, unusual, experimental, and deeply personal” in film, will run Friday (January 26) through Sunday (January 28).

The festival, put on by Arlington Independent Media, will screen 34 films across three different showings — Friday at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday at 8:15 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for one film screening block cost $15, or viewers can pay $40 for the whole weekend. The screenings will be held at the Miracle Theater in Washington, D.C. (535 8th Street SE).

On Sunday, AIM will host two free panel discussions, entitled “Student Filmmaking: From the Classroom to the Real World!” at 12 p.m. and “What Critics Look For?” at 2 p.m. An awards ceremony at the Clarendon Ballroom will follow that day, with the top five films set to each receive a $1,000 cash prize.

This year was a bit different for the festival as it expanded accepted entries from the world. Before, it only accepted films from people living in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

As a result, festival director Kevin Sampson said the submissions nearly doubled. Some of the themes in this year’s films include politics, identity, gender and sexuality.

One film titled “A Name that I Admire” follows a seventh-generation dairy farmer in Virginia as he decides who to vote for in 2016 election. An animated film also reflects on today’s politics in a project titled “Trump’s Got No Tact.”

Another film “Spectrum” is a documentary focusing on the social, political and spiritual world of 10 transgender people living in Israel.

Sampson said one of the best things about Rosebud is that it’s different from other mainstream festivals and movie viewings.

“Coming out to Rosebud you really get to hear from these artists that are speaking from their hearts,” he said. “I think if people want to be entertained as well as challenged that Rosebud is the perfect fit in terms as a festival to come out to and check out.”

Photo via Rosebud Film Festival

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A Historic Change for the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse

By Greg Godbout

37 years ago the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse opened as a second-run movie theater (1 to 3 months old) and has never played first-run movies (released in the first week). Until now! Next week — we are proud to present Star Wars: The Last Jedi. At the same release date as other theaters. Although it almost didn’t happen.

A year ago this month, we made the decision to become a first-run movie theater, because online streaming of films has cut out the second-run theater window. Our style of showing films vanished from the industry. The switch to first-run was made this summer (May 2017), and the timing was bad. This was the worst summer for the entire movie industry in 25 years. We could have done without that.

While suffering through a tragic summer movie season we experimented with arthouse films and top box office films. The top box office films performed better. The goal was to also try some first-run films in their first week of release — unfortunately, the studios wouldn’t give us early access to films. It was a difficult uphill battle. Many studios insisted that we pick between movies or live comedy. Fox Studios and Warner Brothers were the most difficult.

For the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse to thrive, we need both movies and live comedy. We are the only theater in the country to balance top national release films and top national touring comics. Our unique balance puts us at odds with the large corporate movie studios, even though we depend on them.

Disney came to our rescue. After politely declining our request to play Star Wars a couple of times, Disney ultimately agreed. They too wanted to see how we could do with a first-release blockbuster. After months of experimentation — the largest and most dominant studio helped us out.

Our experiment with Star Wars will inform many programing decisions as we move forward. So please join us and let us know what you think. This winter our programing will center on national live comedy and Oscar nominated films. If Star Wars does well, we will add stretches of movies to our line up in the summer — that are true first-run films.

Based on current pre-sales for Star Wars, it is going to be a successful experiment for us. We provide an amazing social movie experience and can’t wait to see you here. We will have Star Wars drink specials and, as always, full tableside service. Tickets will be $10 with $8 matinees.

Please help us out by purchasing tickets in advance and plan on watching Star Wars at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse this holiday season. We do not show ads or trailers so the movie start time is the actual start time. Please arrive early.

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Drafthouse Announces Lineup for Christmas Movie Festival

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is expanding its Christmas Movie Festival for the first time this year.

The festival usually takes place on one day, but instead will last for three weeks, starting on Friday, November 24 with showings of Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life. It wraps up on December 13 with Gremlins.

Paying for one $10 ticket will get attendees unlimited admission to all the scheduled festival movies across all three weeks, depending on space.

Dates for each movie screening are as follows:

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

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Drafthouse to Show New Star Wars Movie Next Month

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) will show the new Star Wars movie next month in what is being described as a first for the theater.

The iconic local business will show “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” from December 14 until January 11. Customers are being asked to buy tickets in advance due to high anticipated demand.

Due to what organizers called the “special screening nature” of the film, tickets cost $10 in the evening and $8 for matinees.

It comes as part of the Drafthouse’s decision to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films.

Owner Greg Godbout has said that the rise of video on-demand services has hurt its previous business model of showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release.

Income from the movie could be small for the Drafthouse, however, as like all movie theaters it reportedly must turn over at least 65 percent of revenue generated by ticket sales to Disney, which owns the Star Wars franchise.

The Drafthouse is making the most of its Star Wars deal, holding dozens of screenings and even offering the chance to host Star Wars-themed parties for businesses. Via a Drafthouse email forwarded to ARLnow.com:

Host a STAR WARS PARTY!!!  Is your company looking for a fun alternative holiday party? The Drafthouse can accommodate your group with our restaurant style seating, giant screen, no hassle buffet style catering options as well as our FULL BAR!! Give your employee’s the gift of a private screening.

Availability: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.  December 15th – January 11th.

Contact us: [email protected] for a full offering of catering, bar and rental options.

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New Harvest Festival Highlights Rosslyn Fall Calendar

Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn will host a harvest festival next month during Halloween weekend, the neighborhood’s first.

On Friday, October 27 from 4-10 p.m. and Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 20 vendors will sell various crafts and gifts, while there will be live entertainment and activities including a pie eating contest, cornhole, a pumpkin toss, costumes contests for children and pets.

The event is part of a series of autumnal happenings in Rosslyn.

The neighborhood’s Business Improvement District is hosting Cinema & Pub in the Park at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) tonight — extending its summer film festival into September.

From 6-11 p.m. for the next three Fridays, beer, wine and sangria will be on offer, with food available from on-site food trucks. September 22 will be a family night, with activities beginning at 5 p.m.

The movie schedule is as follows:

  • September 15: “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”
  • September 22: “Lego Batman”
  • September 29: “Golden Eye”

On Tuesdays beginning September 19, Gateway Park will host Yoga in the Park, a yoga class for all experience levels from 6-7:30 p.m. The entire session of five classes costs $20 per person, and attendees should bring a yoga mat.

And on Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. starting September 21, Gateway Park will host Bonfire Concerts around its bonfire pit. Seasonal beers, ciders and wines will be available for purchase, with a different fashion truck on site each week as well as donuts from Mama’s Donut Bites and s’mores from Capital Candy Jar.

The following acts will perform:

Photos via Rosslyn BID.

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Morning Notes

Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]

Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]

County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]

Yorktown Principal Says GoodbyeRetiring Yorktown High School principal Dr. Ray Pasi received a standing ovation from the Class of 2017 at YHS’s graduation ceremony yesterday. [Twitter]

It’s Still There — For those who were wondering, the now-famous stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop is still there two weeks later, despite wind, rain and publicity. [Twitter]

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Rosslyn Outdoor Movies to Kick Off in June

Rosslyn’s annual outdoor summer cinema series is set to kick off one month from now.

The free Friday night movies in Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) will begin June 2 and run through Aug. 25.

There will be food trucks on site to serve dinner and popcorn, while a “Pub in the Park” will offer beer, wine, mocktails and movie-themed cocktails. On five nights — June 2, June 16, July 7, July 28 and Aug. 18 — a DJ will perform before the film.

The films on the docket for 2017 are:

  • June 2 — Grease
  • June 9 — Frozen
  • June 16 — Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  • June 23 — National Lampoon’s European Vacation
  • June 30 — Some Like It Hot
  • July 7 — GoldenEye
  • July 14 — The Father of the Bride
  • July 21 — Moana
  • July 28 — The Wizard of Oz
  • August 4 — When Harry Met Sally
  • August 11 — Lego Batman
  • August 18 — The Avengers
  • August 25 — Mary Poppins

The films generally start shortly after sundown. The event is sponsored by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

Another local BID, Crystal City, decided to discontinue its usual summer movie nights this year, citing a crowded marketplace of similar events around the area.

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Price Increases, Upgrades Coming to Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse

As it prepares to begin showing first-run and art-house movies, the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse announced a price hike and a series of other upgrades.

The iconic local business at 2903 Columbia Pike is about to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films. Owner Greg Godbout has said previously that showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release has hurt business given the rise of video on-demand services.

But to show first-run films, the Drafthouse will need to increase its ticket prices to meet the requirements of its film distributors. In an email sent to customers Tuesday, Godbout said tickets will now cost $8 for matinee screenings, and for students and other discounted groups like children and seniors, and $10 for screenings after 6 p.m.

The Drafthouse will also no longer offer $2 discount films on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead, Mondays will be a “discount day,” with $8 evening showings, while Tuesdays will be the full $10 price.

“While this is a low price considering the average ticket prices in our area ($12 – $16), it is still a significant increase for our customers,” Godbout wrote. “By agreeing to the studio’s terms on pricing we will get access to films earlier than normal. We are doing this because the ‘Second Run; market has vanished — and we are struggling to compete with streaming at home released, before we get access to films.”

But the cinema will also receive several upgrades. The outside marquee will be revamped at some point in the future, while “The Green Room” — adjacent to the cinema entrance — has been closed to make way for a soon-to-be-announced new tenant. A new food menu will also be introduced, as well as some new furniture over time.

In the email, Godbout also criticized the Kennedy Center for establishing itself as a “commercial entertainment entity and local competitor” that now has stand-up comics. He said the center’s “unfair advantage” of being underwritten by federal taxes will cost the Drafthouse at least $150,000 in revenue this year.

More from Godbout on competition with the Kennedy Center, after the jump.

Having grown up in the DC area, we used to have such a fond impression of the Kennedy Center. Until the last few years, when the Kennedy Center has become a ruthless direct competitor. They have poached comics who annually perform in the comedy club or small comedy theater market in DC and rerouted them to the Kennedy Center – significantly overpaying the comics. In these cases they aren’t offering increased DC area performances, but instead moving comics (and revenue) from one healthy private market to their publicly funded venue.

In our case, they have also denied us access to a performance troupe that has regularly performed at the Drafthouse for years – not because we wouldn’t share, but because they want all the performances for themselves. They won’t allow the performance troupe to work with us as they have done each year. Repeatedly we have found ourselves in disputes with the Kennedy Center over the last two years.

We are used to dealing with competitors – we have many in the DC market. However, the Kennedy Center leverages money and assets received by the Federal Government (US Taxpayer) to directly compete at the local level – damaging what used to be a local healthy marketplace. Having read previous reports to Congress, it is clear they are able to overpay for comics/performances, because the Federal Government pays for all building expenses, land, utilities, and facilities management. The US Taxpayer is giving an unfair advantage to the Kennedy Center to compete in the small comedy theater market.

The legal entity that operates theater performances in the Kennedy Center pays no rent or expenses related to the building (based on past congressional reports). It appears the legal entity is also charging rent to groups for the rights to use the facility and keeping that revenue for themselves. The smaller theaters in the DC area do not have the same advantages – particularly the private ones.

We would love for the Federal government to give us a room in the East Wing of the White House, pay all of our operating expenses related to the room – and allow us to produce shows and/or rent it and keep the proceeds.

We will be writing a more detailed letter (which we will share) where we ask Congress to charge the non-profit legal entity fair market rent, utilities and facilities management costs for using the Kennedy Center. We are asking this in order to level the playing field, now that the Kennedy Center has established itself as a commercial entertainment entity and local competitor.

For the Arlington Drafthouse, the damage is done. The Kennedy Center will cost us at least $150K in revenue this year as a direct result of their actions. Small dollars for the economic behemoth that is the Kennedy Center. However, for a small privately owned family business who gets zero government funding/assistance – it is a painful loss.

Below are a set of questions I have emailed to the Kennedy Center (which they have not responded to yet). I believe these questions will shine a light on the Kennedy Center’s practices and quantify the benefits they receive from the Federal Government. Sorry, to bother you all with this drama, but we want to get the word out after dealing with this privately for 2 years and we want answers from the Kennedy Center. If you have some thoughts/ideas – please feel free to share.

1. How much does the Federal Government pay for your facilities?
2. How much rental income did you receive in the previous year?
3. How much of that revenue was returned to the US treasury to reimburse the government for paying for facilities, utilities, insurance, and facilities management?
4. Which companies donate to your comedy programming?
5. Where can I find an online account of your latest budget?
6. Where can I find a copy of your latest report to Congress?

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