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Wolf Trap introduces permanent pavilions as part of ongoing park renovations

Renovations for the first phase of improvements at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts have been completed.

The renovations include the introduction of permanent, roofed wooden pavilions that replace temporary tents that covered the park’s Ovations restaurant, Encore Circle Lounge, and associates and terrace decks. The old temporary vinyl tents had to be erected each spring and taken down in fall.

Each of the new structures were constructed out of Douglas fir and designed to match the Filene Center, a 7,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The finished renovations were revealed Thursday (July 29) during a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the nonprofit that partners with the National Park Service to provide concerts and other programming at the park.

“This day has been five years in the making,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “Five years ago, we convened a group of leadership of the foundation and our partners at the National Park Service to consider this park’s needs and reflect carefully on how to bring Wolf Trap into the next half century as a national beacon for the performing arts.”

Each of the renovated pavilions retained the open-air concepts that distinguish Wolf Trap, and they are intended to enhance the park experience for the performance season and encourage a greater year-round use of the park than what was possible with the tents.

Additional announced enhancements include a replacement of the Filene Center’s over 20-year-old audio systems and the renovation of the backstage artist areas.

Funded with money that the foundation raised from private donors, the renovation project coincides with Wolf Trap’s 50th anniversary, which it celebrated on July 1.

“These projects were funded by members of our board, led by a group of visionary donors who stepped forward to ensure that we could move quickly and decisively,” Manocha said.

The renovations fall in conjunction with upgrades being performed by the National Park Service. Those upgrades include security upgrades, the installation of new fencing, and electrical infrastructure improvements.

The park service is also looking at some more substantial updates, such as a new pedestrian tunnel, as part of a proposed amendment to Wolf Trap’s master plan. The NPS detailed its plans in a virtual meeting on May 25 and closed a public comment period for a required environmental assessment on June 25.

Wolf Trap National Park Acting Superintendent Ken Bigley says finished and planned upgrades illustrate the National Park Service and Wolf Trap Foundation’s shared commitment to ensuring that visitors “have a memorable, amazing experience” at the park.

“We are in this business for the long term,” Bigley said. “We wanted to build advocacy for a love of the performing arts, for a love of the importance of live music and dance, a love of public lands.”

Dan D’Aniello, who chairs the Wolf Trap Foundation board of directors, closed out the ribbon-cutting event by challenging everyone in attendance to continue to “embrace what needs to be done to ensure that this asset remains viable and dear to not only us, but all people.”

“We are deeply, deeply proud of our friendship and partnership with the National Park Service, both from cultural perspective in artistic programming and from a financial perspective in our role as philanthropic partner,” D’Aniello said. “We are and we will continue making good on our promises to advance the potential of Wolf Trap.”

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