Tysons, VA

The City of Falls Church announced today (Monday) that they will allocate $44,000 in Arts and Humanities grants.

Five proposals were reviewed by the program and will receive a total of $21,200, with each project being fully funded. Five proposals received operational grants with $27,300 awarded.

Recipients include:

  • Creative Cauldron: two grants include $5,000 in funding for “Live at the Cauldron” and an operational grant for administration, utilities, and facility overhead
  • Falls Church Arts: the $4,200 grant will increase web capabilities with a new easy to navigate website and an operational grant will help with gallery rental
  • Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation: two grants will help create promotional, publicity and marketing materials for the 2021 Tinner Hill Blues Festival along with an operational grant for administrative and general expenses
  • The Little City CATCH Foundation: grants include funding for Watch Night and an operational grant for professional services, storage space, office supplies and website costs
  • Washington Sinfonietta: two grants include a free holiday concert at Falls Church Episcopal Church and an operational grant to cover their annual insurance premium

Photo via Creative Cauldron/Facebook


Later this week, the McLean Project for the Arts will unveil its latest exhibition: Sculpture NOW.

The new exhibition will feature over 50 pieces from the Washington Sculpture Group, according to a press release. A complete list of artists can be found online.

Interested community members are invited to attend a virtual exhibit opening reception on Thursday (Sept. 17) from 7-8 p.m.

Those who want to engage with the display further can either register to see the works in person or attend a virtual art talk which will be held on Oct. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m., the press releases added. There will be limited availability for in-person viewing of the exhibit.

“Sculpture NOW” will be on display until Nov. 14, the press release said.

Image via McLean Project for the Arts/Facebook


New PPP Loan Guidance — “New guidance from the Small Business Administration changes the compensation limits for certain Paycheck Protection Program borrowers who are considered owner-employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Here’s Where VA COVID-19 Cases Are Up — “Richmond, a city of over 230,000 people, recorded more new cases than Prince William County, which has over 470,000 people. Localities leading in new cases on Thursday were Fairfax County with 81, Richmond City with 73, Prince William County with 66, and Virginia Beach with 55.” [Patch]

Painted Rocks Share Positive Messages — “Local Girl Scouts met in person in the middle of last month, for the first time since the pandemic began, to paint stones for ‘Rock Your August with Kindness,’ the Vienna Arts Society’s (VAS) third summer project. The public may admire or even take home the approximately 150 rocks painted by the Scouts, said VAS member Mary Ellen Larkins, who co-chaired the project with MaryBeth Davis.” [Inside NoVa]

Families Living in Tysons High-Rises — “Tysons shows that high-rise housing can be an appealing home for all ages. In Tysons, 21.4% of residents are under 20 years old, an increase of about 20% since Tysons’ redevelopment plan for more housing was implemented in 2010. The majority of Tysons’ housing stock consists of mid- to high-rise, elevator buildings.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Photo by Michelle Goldchain


The McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is looking for students to submit entries for the upcoming Children’s Art Walk.

In previous years, the Children’s Art Walk was an open-air gallery, but due to the pandemic, the juried show will take place virtually. The New Dominion Women’s Club of McLean is sponsoring the exhibit, which is a part of MPAartfest.

Students in the Langley and McLean public school pyramid, as well as students at private and parochial schools, can participate, Bethany Nguyen, MPA’s marketing consultant, told Tysons Reporter.

Entries will be accepted between Aug. 24-Sept. 6. MPA asks students to submit art related to one of three themes: “Abundance,” “Small Stories” and “Natural Inclinations.”

MPAartfest is scheduled to take place Oct. 4-18. People will be able to view the exhibit, which will also include art made by kids during MPA’s summer art camps, online during the duration of the festival.

Last year’s Children’s Art Walk featured work from more than 150 students, according to MPA.

Photo via McLean Project for the Arts/Facebook


Dara Global Arts Gallery is reopening to the public this Sunday, July 27. The gallery will be open each Sunday by appointment only from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The gallery is located at 2169 Chain Bridge Road, Lower Level in Vienna. 

All visitors are required to wear a mask, and the gallery will be following social distancing guidelines, according to a Facebook post on their page. Additionally, each appointment slot is limited to two people who know each other. 

“We feel that the artists’ emotion, the medium used, and the way you feel when you look at a piece of art is not often adequately conveyed digitally, “said Nawara Elliott, the Owner and Managing Director of Dara Global Arts Gallery.

Dara Global Arts Gallery is an art gallery with a mission to celebrate women’s empowerment and freedom of expression. Their goal is to bring peace and harmony through art, according to their website

The gallery donates a percentage of its sales to different organizations to help children of war-torn countries, homeless women and children and impoverished artists. Some of these organizations include INRA, BRAWS, and Samra Nice Arts.

Those interested in making an appointment to visit the gallery can email [email protected]

Photo via Dara Global Arts Gallery/Facebook


The McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is debuting its first online exhibit this week. 

Called “SHIFT,” the exhibit will open on Wednesday, July 15, with an online reception from 7-8 p.m. The exhibit will explore concepts of change or exchange in the paradigm, position, dreams, environment, perspective and more.

“So much has changed in our world in the last few months, in ways both personal, political and global,” Nancy Sausser, MPA’s director of exhibitions, said.

The exhibit, juried by Henry Thaggert and Sarah Tanguy, will feature 48 artists from the mid-Atlantic region, according to a statement from the group. The works displayed in the exhibit were chosen from more than 250 submissions, according to Sausser. 

Artists were asked to answer the question, “How has your world been affected by this ‘SHIFT’ in our lives?”

The exhibition will be available from July 15-Aug. 27.

Photo courtesy McLean Project for the Arts


(Updated 11:30 a.m.) The McLean Project for the Arts is among the recipients of $50,000 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts CARES Act to help with the financial fallout from the pandemic.

Thirteen other arts organizations in Virginia were awarded the funding, according to a press release from the arts organization.

“This grant provides critical support as we continue to adapt our visual arts programming and carry out our mission during and beyond this COVID-19 pandemic,” Lori Carbonneau, MPA’s executive director, said in the press release.

MPA shared with Tysons Reporter how the grant will be used:

The funding will help us have the resources to reimagine our programming in this new environment. For example, this coming Wednesday, July 15, we will open our first online juried exhibition, SHIFT. We’ve also been actively expanding our MPA ArtReach programming, distributing these weekly art activities to ArtReach community partners, who, in many cases, are struggling with the digital divide of lacking easy access to technology and wifi. Finally, the grant will help us continue to provide our online art classes and art camps, and will support our upcoming (virtual!) MPAartfest coming this October.

The NEA said it received more than 3,100 eligible applications and ultimately awarded the grants totaling $44.5 million to 855 organizations across the U.S. Only arts organizations that had previously received NEA funds were eligible.

“To review the applications, the agency used more than 200 application readers and panelists to review and score each application using the published review criteria,” according to the NEA.

The grants will support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractors and facilities costs, the press release said, noting that arts and culture sector employs more than 5 million people.

Photo by Ian Williams on Unsplash


“When we can’t do theater, what can we do?” Alex Levy, the artistic director of 1st Stage Theatre, posed during a recent Zoom conversation with local artists.

Levy was at his brother’s house while sharing his thoughts on what the future of 1st Stage during the hour-long “Cultural Tysons” panel.

More than 50 households logged on as Levy; local painter and teacher Deborah Conn; bookstore owner Jen Morrow; and Lori Carbonneau, the head of the McLean Project for the Arts, weighed in on various facets of COVID-19’s impacts on Tysons’ art scene.

Levy introduced himself to viewers by tackling a perception of Tysons — and Northern Virginia west of Arlington — as a “cultural wasteland.” His fellow panelists agreed that the pandemic is highlighting how small businesses and local artists and institutions contribute to the area’s culture.

“It reinforced how much people want local,” Jen Morrow, the owner of Bards Alley in Vienna, said during the Zoom panel.

The bookstore is currently offering curbside pick-up and online shopping. The “Take a Chance on Me” option for staff to recommend books in the store based on shoppers’ chosen genres and price points has “been a home run,” she said.

“I think people are really discovering how much they miss their access to the arts,” Conn, the local watercolor painter, said. “They need the arts. They need the theater. They need the books.”

With some of her art hanging behind her, Conn talked about the changes she’s experienced during the pandemic: better class attendance now that she’s teaching via Zoom, a greater demand for more demos and more creative ways to showcase art.

Conn, who is also the gallery curator at 1st Stage, shared that one of her friends started a fence post art gallery, while a few others are doing driveway galleries: “We have to be seen.”

The virtual meeting on Saturday (June 13) was part of the Community Conversations series that 1st Stage started five years ago.

“It’s a really popular thing that we did, and we realized it was one of those things that we can move to a digital platform during the pandemic,” Levy told Tysons Reporter earlier this week. “So we started that two months ago, doing these community conversations via Zoom.”

While success stories might make the pivot to online look easy, the panelists shared the uncertainties they still face months into social distancing, quarantine, stay at home orders and COVID-19 restrictions.

Some things haven’t been figured out yet, like how to offer in-person summer classes or host ArtFest online, Carbonneau, MPA’s executive director, said. While MPA missed an exhibition in the spring, the arts organization is moving forward with plans for a virtual exhibition.

1st Stage, in particular, has been grappling with how to reconcile its mission and atmosphere — “Our primary mode of work is to gather people in small spaces,” moderator Emily Wall, who is the theater’s associate producer, said — with state and local requirements to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

In March, the theater suspended its upcoming productions and closed its doors. A month later, the theater announced that “A New Brain,” which was supposed to run March 26-April 19, will be its next show, but the dates haven’t been determined yet. The Logan Festival of Solo Performance is canceled for July but plans to return next year.

Levy said during “Cultural Tysons” that institutions with video skills and equipment before the pandemic had an easier time adjusting. Even organizations that weren’t focused on tech before now have incentives to catch up.

Carbonneau noted that the switch to online programming allows for greater geographic diversity. For example, one of MPA’s students is in Italy, while one of its teachers is in New York opening a studio, she said.

The increased accessibility to audiences and artists is an “exciting” opportunity for the theater, Levy told Tysons Reporter.

“In our [Zoom panel] on Saturday, people from all over the county [were] part of the conversation, and that’s been a really cool benefit,” he said. “These virtual conversations have allowed us to open up to a whole group of people who would never be able to be a part of it because they’re just physically too far at any given time.”

For people who missed the Zoom panels or want to view them again, the recorded conversations are archived on 1st Stage’s YouTube channel — another perk of holding virtual events.

In addition to the Community Conversations series, 1st Stage is also planning a series of Zoom classes to address a longing for human connection.

“We are going to create a series of classes that are not really intended for professionals but intended for people to connect to art-making in ways where they maybe never have before and to do it with our artists and with each other,” he told Tysons Reporter.

Another idea, which is in the planning stages, would allow multiple organizations to co-produce a piece for Zoom. “We can break apart the way we make theater… and then see what happens when we bring it together and then let it be a live event so that it still has some of that feeling of theater where anything can happen,” he said.

While Zoom will make these ideas possible, Levy said the pandemic’s impact on the theater’s season has opened up time to reimagine future plans.

“Normally I think we need to be done by, you know, X days because we had to put it into our season,” he said about the co-production idea. “Now we can say, ‘Let’s let it go at the pace that feels like it’s creating the best work, and when it’s ready, we’ll do it.'”

Currently, the theater is using this time to talk about how to invest in artists in the longterm and “how we disrupt our own process every now and then.”

“We’ve been having conversations about like, ‘Well what would it look like to start talking to an artist, not six months before we do a show but two years before we do a show?’ and ‘What can we change about the way we build and create a show when we think like that?'” Levy said.

Questions about the use of space outside the theater — 1st Stage is currently looking into opportunities to perform outdoors — and how the relationship with the audience will change are also on the list.

While 1st Stage normally starts the theatrical process with a play, Levy said he wonders what would happen if they started with a blank page instead. The theater has also been reaching out to actors to see if they want to write plays and asking playwrights if they have an interest in directing.

“We have long believed that theater gets made in a certain way,” he said. “I think who’s in those power positions are going to be shaken up… Theater is no different than any other institution where those in power can hang onto that power and tend to reinforce it.”

Levy sees art institutions as a guide — “Our job is to be out ahead of governments and for-profit businesses and model what it can look like” — and the questions 1st Stage is tackling fit into a bigger query about how to disassemble power structures.

“I think the kinds of stories we tell are going to change. I think the kind of people that tell those stories are going to change. The ways in which we tell them are going to change,” he said.

Ultimately, Levy hopes the disruption will alter not only future art, but also the ways that art gets made.

“What this is really allowing us is to think about what years from now might look like too. So, to build something that is not about ‘Oh this is a cool show,’ but build something that says ‘This is a way in which we create cool shows’ for years,” he said.

Image via 1st Stage Theatre/YouTube

Madeline Taylor contributed to this report 


The McLean Project for the Arts sent out an all-call for artists for the upcoming summer exhibition.

Curators are seeking submissions for a display called”SHIFT,” according to a press release, which added artists from across the mid-Atlantic region are welcome to apply.

“The works in this exhibition will focus on the concept of shift, change or exchange in paradigm, position, direction, tendency, viewpoint, atmosphere, needs, dreams, schedules, interactions, environment, perspective,” the release said.

Submissions are due June 26, and the exhibit will run from July 15 through August 27.

There is no cost to submit a piece for consideration, and artists can submit up to two pieces of any size, medium, form or weight, according to the website. Two jurors will each pick their favorite pieces for consideration.

“It will be interesting to see how the exhibits differ from one another,” the website said.

Image courtesy McLean Project for the Arts


An upcoming mural in the City of Falls Church recently raised concerns from some residents over its selection process.

The mural is set to be installed near Mr. Brown’s Park — a space that was known as the city’s downtown plaza before it was renamed to honor the city’s oldest business.

The Falls Church Planning Commission noted during its meeting last week that the mural will be paid for with public funds. Because it is located on private property, it doesn’t need to go through the typical approval process for publically commissioned art, Melissa Teates, a member of the city’s Planning Commission, said.

The Village Preservation and Improvement Society, a local group that aims to preserve the city’s history and culture, disagreed with this decision though.

VPIS said in a letter to the Planning Commission that the project should go through a stricter screening process because public funds are being used.

The letter insisted that a new set of artists bring forth a proposal to a “qualified board” which will prioritize images celebrating the history and people of Falls Church.

“VPIS requests that city staff suspend the contract and reconsider the public process for selecting the mural content,” the letter said.

In the future, Teates said that the Planning Commission is working on a plan for public art, but it has not been completed yet.

Image via Google Maps


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