Tysons, VA

Dozens of local artists and arts-oriented organizations got welcome news last week when ArtsFairfax announced the recipients of $567,138 in emergency relief and recovery grants on Jan. 15.

A nonprofit that serves as Fairfax County’s designated local arts agency, ArtsFairfax created an Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants program in order to provide quick funding to an industry that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program comes in lieu of the agency’s usual grant programs, which were suspended for fiscal year 2021.

“The impact of COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on the arts community, yet we have seen the arts continue to provide arts education, senior engagement, family entertainment and so much more,” ArtsFairfax president and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said.

Out of the $108,500 in funding requests that it received, ArtsFairfax has awarded $101,950 in emergency relief grants to 40 different Fairfax County arts organizations. It also raised private funds to support $28,300 in grants to 29 individual artists.

In addition, 39 arts organizations will receive operating support grants for FY 2021. These funds are awarded annually to nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church to support basic operations.

ArtsFairfax is awarding $436,888 in operating support grants for this fiscal year after receiving $913,933 in requests from 39 different organizations.

“The arts will be a vital part of our health and economic recovery,” Sullivan said. “We need to support the arts today, so they are here for us tomorrow.”

With in-person performances and exhibitions largely suspended for the past year, the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the American arts and culture industry.

The nonprofit Americans for the Arts estimates that, as of Jan. 11, arts and cultural organizations have lost $14.8 billion nationally as a result of COVID-19. 63% of workers in the arts sector have become unemployed, and 95% have reported a loss of income.

According to a dashboard from Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County have reported a median financial loss of $30,000 for a total impact of $4.3 million, though that is based on a small sample size of 55 respondents.

The McLean Project for the Arts is one of several organizations to get both an emergency relief grant and an operating support grant from ArtsFairfax. The grants combine for more than $30,000, according to MPA Director of Communications and Public Affairs Deborah Bissen. Read More

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The Fairfax County Park Authority is exploring the possibility of revising its master plan for Clemyjontri Park in McLean to allow for a proposed arts center from the McLean Project for the Arts.

Park Authority staff kicked off the process last week with a virtual public meeting on Dec. 17, when MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau presented conceptual renderings for the proposed arts center and detailed how it would align with Clemyjontri’s core mission of providing a playground for children of all abilities.

“We have a vision of a natural marriage of art and the outdoors that this center can create,” Carbonneau said. “It’s going to celebrate our natural heritage, and it’s going to offer a way to extend the vision [property donor Adele] Lebowitz had of creating a place where all can play.”

The overall plans for the arts center have not changed since the public’s first glimpse of the project in February. If approved, it would house three galleries, studio classrooms, staff offices, and an outdoor event space, potentially with gardens and public artwork.

However, what was initially envisioned as a campus with multiple pavilions has now been consolidated into a single building, a change that Carbonneau says came out of talks with prospective architectural and engineering firms that toured the park on Mar. 12.

In addition to lowering maintenance costs, having just one building would make security and cleaning easier, and MPA would only have to invest in one central heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system, a concern that emerged as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of proper indoor ventilation.

Carbonneau and Park Authority staff emphasized that the project is still in its infancy, meaning that it’s too early to give concrete answers to many questions, including the potential cost to its impact on parking and traffic.

When asked about potential plans to address existing issues with crossing Georgetown Pike, Ryan Stewart, the chief of long-range planning for the Park Authority, said the agency will consult with the Virginia and Fairfax County transportation departments throughout the master planning process.

MPA would schedule arts center programming around peak park usage, with exhibition openings and other special events generally taking place between 7 and 10 p.m., according to Carbonneau, though the organization has not studied park usage beyond publicly available data.

“During COVID, any analysis would be unsatisfying because of the very different traffic patterns that we’re all experiencing right now,” Carbonneau said. Read More

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The McLean Community Center’s annual Holiday Art & Crafts Festival is officially virtual this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The festival will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 6. 

Admission to the festival is free. However, participants are required to register in advance, according to an MCC press release

This year’s festival will feature traditional handcrafted works by established and seasoned artisans, alongside innovative exhibits by new artists. According to the release, pottery, glass, jewelry, holiday decorations, mixed media, fashion accessories, wood, fine art, artisanal foods and more will be on display and for sale. 

According to the MCC Special Events Manager Catherine Nesbitt, the live show will also provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the participating artists craft their products.

“During our in-person event, we require the artists to be onsite, which allows attendees to meet them, but in some ways, the virtual show allows for an even more intimate experience of how these artists are inspired to create their masterpieces,” Nesbitt said. “In addition, the format will allow attendees to ask the artists questions in real time.”

The Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild will help provide show management. NVHG is a non-profit community-based organization with a mission to help artists and craftspeople show and sell their work and promote the development and education of arts and crafts in the community, according to the release. 

Image via McLean Community Center

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(Updated on 11/12/2020) Capital One expects to unveil a 1.2-acre sky park with food trucks, a bar and beer garden, games, a dog run and an amphitheater in time for summer 2021.

Nested on top of the newly open Wegmans grocery store, The Perch is part of the second building to be completed in the 24.25-acre Capital One complex. Two more parts of the project are slated to open in the fall of 2021: the Watermark Hotel and the Capital One Hall.

From The Perch, Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith said the public will “view Tysons from a completely different vantage point.”

For him, that perspective applies to the company’s mission to mix employees and Tysons residents.

“We are trying to separate from the notion that this is for only Capital One employees,” he said, citing The Star, a shopping and dining destination inside the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility in Frisco, Texas, as inspiration.

The Watermark Hotel and two residential buildings will surround the Perch. The 300-room hotel will be managed by B.F. Saul Hospitality, whose flagship property is The Hay-Adams luxury hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Watermark will no longer be one of two hotels on campus, after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a request to change a planned hotel into an office building.

The Watermark Hotel is slated to open next fall, while construction on the residential towers could begin in 10 years, Griffith said.

Until the residential towers go up, semi-permanent installations will “activate the space,” including an old-school double-decker London tour bus and an Airstream converted into food trucks, Griffith said.

From the Sky Park, people can see the glassy Capital One headquarters, completed in 2018, as well as a 30-story office building with two floors of retail.

These developments fit with the trifecta of “live, work and play,” but Griffith said a fourth component, “culture,” is missing.

To fill that gap is Capital One Hall, with a 1,600-seat theater and 250-seat black box theater, as well as vaulted event spaces, large restrooms, plentiful concession areas and an expansive coat room, he said.

Capital One Hall General Manager Jamey Hines described both performance venues as “tight in feeling and room focus, but not uncomfortable.”

“People on the edges have just a good view and the audience won’t feel far away from the performer,” he said.

Having two options impacts the performer, too. “I’ve found that you have to create the room, so people achieve in the room, through seating,” Hines said.

Capital One, Fairfax County, and ARTSFAIRFAX are working together to ensure county agencies and Fairfax County Public Schools get access to 15% of the hall’s bookings at discounted rates. Already, the manager is looking to fill dates for 2022-2023.

Hines has mapped out some events and is gauging what people want to see.

The pandemic has given Capital One Hall more opportunities to be added to a multi-city tour, but he anticipates the Hall will be a bigger destination for one-time shows and productions. Hines encouraged those who are interested in dates to join the email list at capitalonehall.com.

Capital One Hall and The Perch will be open to weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, galas and functions for nonprofits, concerts and speaker series, Capital One Center marketing and community affairs manager Meghan Trossen said.

The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the building pace, now unencumbered by traffic, but the supply chain has been disrupted, impacting shipments of materials and equipment, Griffith says.

Through it all, he said Fairfax County has done “an incredible job” accommodating construction during the pandemic, implementing measures such as inspections via FaceTime to keep employees safe.

Photo courtesy Capital One

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It’s was an unconventional Halloween to cap off an unconventional year for the McLean Community Center, an organization dedicated to establishing a sense of community a time of social isolation.

During a meeting last week, the MCC leadership discussed the Halloween activities that were ongoing at the McLean Old Firehouse Center.

Terri Markwart said that the event had been a success with many local middle school kids who were looking for a chance to meet up with their friends in costume. The event had over 200 attendees, Markwart said.

“Parents who came with their kids were appreciative,” Markwart said, “and the kids said the haunted house was fantastic.”

Other members of the MCC expressed similar approval of the work the Old Firehouse had done.

“It was a well run event,” said Barbara Zamora. “There was a line at one point, but everyone was spaced.”

The group also discussed the future of the McLean Project for the Arts with Lori Carbonneau, executive director of the MPA.

“We’re doing virtual openings and artist talks,” Carbonneau said, “[and] bringing people into the gallery in groups of six.”

Carbonneau said engagement has gone up over the last few months, which she attributed to the group working largely with people with disabilities, elderly residents, and folks who are otherwise homebound. As a result, the group had its second highest attended Artfest this year in terms of website traffic.

“For our first rodeo, we’re feeling pretty good about it,” Carbonneau said.

The success came in spire of a 95% drop in normal corporate sponsorship, but Carbonneau said the group was able to put the event together with community support. Carbonneau described artist sales as “not great” but adequate.

Unsurprisingly, the group also announced that the annual WinterFest parade has been cancelled. This is the second year in a row WinterFest has been cancelled, as it was cancelled last year due to predicted rain.

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Friday Morning Notes

McLean Project for the Arts Proposes New Single-Building Art Center — “The McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is advancing a revised, single-building concept for its proposed art center at McLean’s Clemyjontri Park that would be more efficient, accessible and secure than the initial multiple-building design.” [Inside Nova] 

Falls Church High School Student Recognized by Governor for Black History Awareness Efforts — “A group of 52 students from Laurel Ridge Elementary School and one student from Falls Church High School have been recognized by Governor Ralph Northam for nominating Black Virginians to be recognized on highway markers throughout the state.” [FCPS]

Upcoming Virtual Open House for Plan to Revitalize Downtown McLean — “Curious about a draft plan to revitalize downtown McLean over the next 20 years? We want your feedback at the Nov. 7 virtual open house!” [Twitter]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax Extends Early Voting Hours — During this last week of early voting, we have added two extra hours to vote early on both Thursday and Friday, Oct. 29 and 30. [Fairfax County]

Fairfax Connector Ridership Plummets — The Fairfax Connector bus network saw more of a fall-off in ridership during the initial phase of the COVID crisis than some of the region’s other bus systems, but less of a decline than Metrobus ridership across Northern Virginia. [Inside Nova]

Student Driver Crashes Into Town Official — Both vehicles then proceeded into the intersection and collided, Vienna police said. The student driver’s vehicle went up on the curb and struck a light post, causing minor damage, police said. [Inside Nova]

ArtsFairfax Gets Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Capital One Center — “Behind the scenes views from our hard hat tour with @capitalonecenter and @fairfaxcounty visiting @capitalonehall and The Perch.” [ArtsFairfax/Instagram]

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As Deirdre Johnson and Maurice “Mo” B. Springer join the Board of Directors at ArtsFairfax, they join an organization in the middle of transforming to adapt to the art scene changing to survive the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ArtsFairfax, founded in 1964 as a nonprofit supporting local arts and artists, is embroiled in an overhaul of its programming to support a community reeling from the health and financial impact of COVID-19. All funding has been reallocated to emergency relief and raising funds for grants to local artists. With the pandemic leaving many businesses closed, the organization has also started to look at more opportunities to use empty storefronts as temporary art centers.

Johnson, the vice president and asset manager of Federal Realty Investment Trust, has worked in real estate since 1992. Johnson pointed to the McLean Project for the Arts moving into 1446 Chain Bridge Road, a strip mall, as an example of how ArtsFairfax can adapt to utilize existing, vacant spaces.

“A more recent example is Traveling Players space in Tysons Corner Center which opened before COVID,” Johnson said. “From the mall’s perspective, TPE is attracting customers – teens and their families – and they are activating an unused space. Both of these are interim uses, and the term impacts the type of use. We have also seen pop-up/weekend uses for art exhibits and theatre performances.”

Johnson also highlighted the symbiotic nature of art and local businesses.

“For Federal Realty, art has never been more important than it is today for shopping centers,” Johnson said. “Integrating art, design and performance touches people’s lives, increases educational opportunities and provides economic impact. Vacant spaces are a fabulous opportunity to showcase art right in the heart of a community which is its neighborhood shopping center.”

Springer is the President and CEO at Cardinal Insurance and Financial Inc., where he provides expertise in insurance and retirement options for his customers. Springer said the recovery from the pandemic has shown that ArtsFairfax can adapt and change as the situation requires.

“I don’t view ArtsFairfax as a static and myopic organization and as such I see the recovery from the pandemic given the initiatives in place particularly the strategies focused on engaging the community and the artist at large as a demonstration of the agility of the organization to satisfy the insatiable need of the arts community,” Springer said. “Its online programs, fund raising efforts to support the arts and the institution of viable programs to accommodate and support the new normal artist are facing are benefactors coming out of [COVID-19].” Read More

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McLean’s MPAartfest 2020 is kicking off early next month with a planned drive-in concert with some prestigious Motown alumni.

The concert “Voices of Classic Soul” will take place at the McLean Community Center parking lot (1234 Ingleside Avenue) with a showing at 4 p.m. and at 6 p.m.

The concert will feature Joe Coleman from The Platters, Joe Blunt of The Drifters, and Theo Peoples from The Temptations and The Four Tops. The group is scheduled to perform some of the big hits from their respective groups.

Tickets are $25 per car, with cars guided to spaces to ensure proper distancing.

The concert kicks off two-weeks of MPAartfest, a primarily digital program this year and live-streamed concerts.

Image via McLean Project for the Arts

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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

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