Update from Embracing Arlington Arts
Dear Arts Patrons, Aficionados and Supporters,
There certainly has been a lot going on in the arts world in Arlington and this Update is full of interesting and important developments.
Proposed Draconian Cuts to Arts Budget:
First, it took a lot of work on the part of arts organizations, arts patrons, Embracing Arlington Arts members and Board, artists and hundreds more, but the County Manager and County Board pulled back on the draconian cuts to the arts budget originally proposed by the County Manager. The County Board voted in favor of the Manager’s revised budget for the Cultural Affairs department which contrary to the original proposed budget, provided funding for staffing of the Costume Lab and Scenic Studio, the Facilities Manager, and the Facility Technology Services Director. The final budget also reinstated funding for all the literary arts programs, including the Poet Laureate position and the Pick-A-Poet program in the schools.
Upon approving the budget, the County Board has instructed the County Manager to develop a strategic funding proposal to be completed for fiscal year 2021 budget discussions. Here is the Guidance:
Cultural Affairs/Arlington Community Arts Programs:
The Board accepts the Manager’s revised Cultural Affairs transition plan, including full funding of Arts Grants as well as proposed “bridge” staffing for the Costume Lab and Scenic Studio and for 3700 Four Mile Run and for the Facility Technology Services Director. We do so with the expectation that interim staffing will support current levels of use, and that a more strategic funding proposal for the arts in Arlington County will be forthcoming in FY21.
In order to facilitate such a proposal:
The Manager will return by July 1, 2019 with a proposed scope of work for a review of community arts programs, to be completed by arts stakeholders, County staff and outside consultants.
Any draft charge should include, at a minimum, the following elements:
- Cataloguing the range of arts-supporting services that are government supported, and privately supported, in Arlington and the region. This review would not include performance spaces but would include studio space for artists, audio-visual services, costumes and scenery construction.
- Evaluate opportunities for public-private partnerships, as well as partnerships with other governments in the region, for the provision of these services.
- Developing a transition plan for future operations of the CostumeLab, Scenic Studio and Mobile Stage. The plan should consider alternative management and service delivery proposals and funding sources.
- Developing new scheduling process for joint-use theater space in partnership with Arlington Public Schools.
- Drawing on the recently-completed strategic plan of the Arlington Commission for the Arts, Enriching Lives: Arts and Cultural Strategy (2017), as well as the Framework for Arlington’s Cultural Spaces (2018) adopted by the Commission.
Recommendations will also include potential members of the group to conduct this review, a staffing plan for the review, and proposals for consultant support. The review should be completed and available for County Manager review and consideration in time for the FY 2021 budget development process.
We do remain very concerned since a) this funding is only for one year; and b) stakeholders are not really involved in the beginning phases of the Task Force/Working Group both in terms of scope of their mandate and actually who sits on the Task Force. Therefore, we are working on meetings with County Board members to ensure that the public, stakeholders and arts organizations are fully involved in the process from the start.
But we do not want to downplay the successes we achieved. And this success would never have been possible with the hundreds and hundreds of arts organizations, patrons, citizens and arts supporters who testified at the public budget hearing, met with County Board members to express their dismay about the cuts to the arts, sent letters to the County Board opposing the proposed cuts, signed the petition in support of reinstating funding and jobs, participated in the Community Strategic Planning meeting, and basically raised their voices against these devastating cuts. Without citizen input, we never could have achieved this success. This outpouring of supports proves that Arlingtonians want a vibrant, robust and diverse cultural community.
We also want to thank the arts organizations who stepped up and became involved in the rally before the budget hearing, testifying at the budget hearing and getting their members and patrons involved. They include: Encore Stage and Studio, The Arlington Players, Dominion Stage, WSC Avant Bard, Arlington Philharmonic, Educational Theatre Company, Festival Argentino, Arlington Arts Center, UrbanArias, Jane Franklin Dance, Prio Bangla, Poet Laureate and numerous visual artists. We also want to thank the Potomac Harmony Chorus and the Arlingtones for performing at our rally – despite the pouring rain. Finally, we wanted to thank Don Hammonds Arlington Weekly News on Arlington Independent Media for airing a statement from Embracing Arlington Arts on the cuts.
Together – we CAN make a difference!
3rd Annual Celebration of the Arts in Arlington:
Yes, that is right – planning has begun for our 3rd Annual Celebration of the Arts in Arlington and this year’s is going to be totally unique, different and a blast! Think Immersive Theater at its maximum! You are not going to want to this miss this event while at the same time supporting Embracing Arlington Arts and the entire arts community in Arlington. 100% of the proceeds will be raised to begin preparing research and materials for our capital campaign to get a black box theater built in Arlington! Many more details will be available in the next issue of this Update.
Media Hits/Community Posts:
Our efforts on the budget fight resulted in lots of media coverage. An article in WTOP started the ball rolling by describing all the draconian cuts proposed for the arts. That was followed by an article in ArlNow after our Press Release was distributed about the extraordinary percentage of cuts the tiny arts budget was being asked to shoulder (62.5 its percentage from the fiscal year 2019 budget).
In cooperation with Encore Stage and Studio, we organized for a Strategy Session on how to fight the proposed cuts and over 100 people attended! Local NBC News also covered the story. This past Sunday, we were very excited to see that the Washington Post had included my Opinion Piece in its Metro Section about the cuts and how they will decimate the arts in Arlington. ArlNow published our Community Post on how Arlingtonians can weigh in with the County Board and urge them to REJECT these cuts. Finally, ArlNow posted an article about our rally before the budget hearing.
In between these media hits, Arlington Arts organizations continued to take advantage of our subscription to ArlNow to allow them to publish a Community Post column for free. Again, we want to send out our appreciation to Washington Workplace for underwriting this wonderful opportunity for our arts organizations. Columns published in the last several weeks were written by WSC Avant Bard (link to column), Bowen McCauley Dance (link), Arlington Concert Band (link), Jane Franklin Dance (link), and The Arlington Players (link).
Corporate Sponsor of the Month:
Starting with this issue, Embracing Arlington Arts is highlighting one corporate sponsor each month in this Update. This month we are honoring and sending a big t hank you out to JBG SMITH. An S&P 400 company that owns, operates and invests in numerous markets in Arlington and the DC area, JBG SMITH focuses on placemaking in their projects and always stresses amenity-rich, walkable neighborhoods. Not only is JBG SMITH a sponsor of Embracing Arlington Arts, but they are also one of the biggest corporate sponsors of the arts in Arlington and DC overall. Many, may thanks to JBG SMITH for their generosity.
Radio Show on WERA 96.7FM:
We have had some interesting guests on the radio show over the last several weeks. First in one of his first post-election radio interviews, County Board Member Matt de Ferranti appeared to talk about his goals as a County Board member and how the arts have positively impacted him. Next, we welcomed back the Executive Director of Bowen McCauley Dance Company Helen Chamberlin to talk about the dance company’s upcoming performances. The following week we found out more about the Arlington Concert Band from the Director Jim Kirchenbauer and the organization’s Co-President Mel Johnson.
We moved back to the theater with a very entertaining interview with the Director of “Topdog/Underdog” DeMone Seraphin being presented by WSC Avant Bard. The Founder of Arlington’s newest theater company – Prologue Theater – Jason Tamborini joined us the week after to introduce us to his theater company and their mission. We rounded out the month by learning more from the new Executive Director of the Arlington Community Foundation Jennifer Owens about her goals for the non-profit organization.
Although most known as the Commission of the Revenue, Ingrid Morroy joined us to talk about her band “The Constituents” and to share a snippet of their playing with us. Theatre Washington’s CEO Amy Austin updated us on the spectacular Helen Hayes Award Ceremony being held on May 13. The following week we put on our ballet shoes and chatted with BalletNova Director Constance Walsh about their upcoming spring production. Keeping in the dance mode, Jane Franklin, Artistic Director of Jane Franklin Dance told us about her organization’s busy spring production schedule. Finally, to close out the month of April, we welcome Artistic Director Leo Suahansky back to the studio to talk about the finale performance of National Chamber Ensemble for the 2018/2019 season.
To listen to these interviews, or any others in the past, follow this link.
2019 Arlington Arts Groups Performances and Events
4/26-5/12 – Grand Hotel, Signature Theatre
4/27-5/12 – Curtains, Arlington Players, Thomas Jefferson Middle School
4/30-6/23 – Spunk, Signature Theatre
5/2-5/26 – On Air, Creative Cauldron
5/3-5/18 – P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, Dominion Stage, Gunston II
5/9-5/11 – Rocket Woman, Encore Stage and Studio, 4000 Lorcom Lane
5/10 – Reception, Arlington Artists’ Alliance, Gallery Clarendon
5/11 – Argentine Festival, Festival Argentino, Kenmore Middle School
5/11 – EyeSoar, Jane Franklin Dance, Theatre on the Run
5/15-6/16 – Richard III, Synetic Theater
5/17-5/19 – Spring Show, Ballet Nova
5/17 -5/18 – Spring Performance, Bowen McCauley Dance Company, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
5/30-6/30 – A Misanthrope, WSC Avant Bard, Gunston II
5/31-6/9 – The Talented Clementine, Encore Stage & Studio, Gunston I
6/2 – Spring Concert, Washington Balalaika Society, Wakefield HS
6/3 – Play Reading, SigWorks, Signature Theatre
6/7 – Reception, Arlington Artists’ Alliance, Gallery Underground
6/8 – Rated Art, VIP Reception, Arlington Arts Center
6/14 – Reception, Arlington Artists’ Alliance, Gallery Clarendon
6/11-7/7 – Blackbeard, Signature Theatre
6/25-6/30 – Blowin’ In the Wind: Folk Rock in America, Cabaret Series, Signature Theatre
7/5 – Reception, Arlington Artists’ Alliance, Gallery Underground
7/8 – Mouse in House, Jane Franklin Dance, Cherrydale/Glencarlyn libraries
7/12 – Reception, Arlington Artists’ Alliance, Gallery Clarendon
7/1-7/14 – The Juliet Letters, UrbanArias, Signature Theater
7/17 – Complete Dogness, Jane Franklin Dance, Westover Library
7/17-8/18 – Treasure Island, Synetic
7/19-7/28 – Disney’s Newsies, Encore Stage & Studio, Kenmore Middle School