Tysons, VA

The McLean Project for the Arts is looking for artist submissions for its upcoming festival in October.

MPAartfest is a free one-day festival in McLean that features a juried fine art show and sale. Attendees can enjoy the work of visual artists, along with mini art galleries, live music, food from local restaurants and activities.

The McLean Project for the Arts wants interested artists throughout the mid-Atlantic region to apply by June 15. Artists will keep 100% of the sales, according to a press release.

To apply, artists will need to submit an application with a $35 fee. If selected, the artists will pay a $350 participation fee.

While the festival is free, donations and funds raised during the event support MPA exhibitions and programs.

The festival returns to McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd) on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Photo via McLean Project for the Arts/Facebook

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre is taking it day by day as businesses around the Tysons area face closures and uncertain futures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The theater recently announced that the suspension of its upcoming productions due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus. Plans for “A New Brain,” which was set to run March 26-April 19, are still to be determined.

The coronavirus announcement came a few days after the theater unveiled its upcoming shows for the 2020-2021 season.

Tysons Reporter talked to 1st Stage’s Artistic Director Alex Levy about the upcoming season, impacts of the coronavirus and ways people can help support the Tysons theater.

Tysons Reporter: The theater announced that it will compensate the production personnel “most impacted by this sudden closure” and that the performers, designers and technicians for the show will be paid their full contract salary. Are other theaters doing that or just 1st Stage?

Alex Levy: I won’t speak for everybody else. I know a lot of other theaters are not able to do that. I’m really proud to be at this theater where all of the artists for this season and for “A New Brain” will get paid in full.

TR: Walk me through how you picked the five shows for the 2020-2021 season.

AL: It’s a long and complicated process. We read hundreds of plays every year to come to the right collage of plays to make up a season. We have an aesthetic here at 1st Stage.

As the only professional theater in our area, we are trying to provide something for everyone. The entire staff spends well over a yeat reading plays and fitting them together.

It’s a multitiered approach.

We have a database of plays we look at — playwrights who excite us or topics that are interesting to us or plays at other theaters. The rule here is that first reader should be thinking of anything practical — not if it will sell or who the actors will be — if they feel it would be right for us. If the second reader likes it, then it will go to the whole team.

Ultimately, it’s my decision, but with input from everybody.

TR: Is there usually a certain number of finalists?

AL: No. Excellence is at the top of our list. It’s about a season. We don’t stop until we get the right five plays.

We have things we look for in plays. We look for plays we think are worthy of really great artists and engaged audiences. We look for plays that have a unique place. We look for plays that have writing for the stage — we’re not looking for things that work in a movie or TV show or novel.

We also look at angles — music, comedy, drama, traditionally structured plays, more experimental work.

TR: So you’ve already started planning the 2021-2022 season?

AL: Yes. With the coronavirus, we have a lot more reading time lately. We are well into 2021-2022.

TR: How is the coronavirus impacting all of this?

AL: I don’t think I can overstate how scary this is for both organizations and for individuals. The idea of being out of business for a prolonged period of time is terrifying.

The arts usually have not been prioritized the way I think they ought to be in state and local governments. There is a fear that we’re not being remembered in conversations on how to boost businesses up.

For actors and staff, this is a gig economy. We’ve made a commitment to make sure all the artists get paid.

We are pausing our productions. We are hopeful the next show we produce will be “A New Brain.”

TR: What are some things people can do to help 1st Stage out financially?

AL: Subscriptions are a really great way to support us. It’s incredibly helpful to know people will come back.

We are a charitable organization, so people can make tax-deductible donations.

Our biggest concern right now is keeping everyone employed and paid.

TR: Are you planning fundraisers?

AL: We know that is going to have to happen. There will absolutely be opportunities to join us in the near future.

TR: Are you considering any digital or online alternatives?

AL: It’s complicated — it can be a significant expense and there are legal issues too. Some writers in the union are trying to relax those rules.

We are going to launch next week aggressive social media content with music and storytelling. People can look out for that.

We just want to put some good energy out to folks because times are tough. There’s a little piece of “A New Brain” that we recorded for our recent benefit on our Facebook page.

I suppose anything is possible. We are very aware that we don’t know what the future will look like. We have to wait and see how the changes, hopefully in weeks, not months.

This interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity. 

Images (2-3) via 1st Stage

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Movie theaters and performing arts venues in the Tysons area have shut down the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The temporary closures come on the heels of the White House recommending that gatherings with 10 people or more be avoided.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Gov. Ralph Northam issued an order “that allows law enforcement to enforce a ban that prohibits more than 10 patrons in places such as restaurants, fitness centers and theaters,” Inside NoVa reported.

The newly opened Showplace Icon (1667 Silver Hill Drive) in The Boro is now “temporarily closed until further notice,” according to its website.

Over at Tysons Corner Center, which is open with reduced hours, AMC Tysons Corner 16 “is temporarily closed in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines,” according to the AMC website.

“It will re-open when those guidelines allow,” the site said. “Please continue to check back here for updates.”

Yesterday, the Angelika Film Center in the Mosaic District announced a temporary closure.

“The health and well-being of our guests and our theater teams is our top priority, and we believe that this step will be the most effective way to both retain that priority and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” says a note on the theater’s website.

The theater did not say when it plans to reopen.

Tickets bought in advance –either from Angelika or from a third-party vendor — for movie showtimes that won’t play due to the closure can be refunded.

Performing arts-goers will have to wait to watch their next play or concert in the Tysons area.

Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre announced yesterday that it’s suspending upcoming productions.

Plans for the theater’s upcoming production of “A New Brain,” which was set to run March 26-April 19, are uncertain at this point.

The Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center is closed until April 12.

Wolf Trap is postponing all of its performances, classes and events between March 13-31.

“We are working with the artists to reschedule their performances for future dates and will share that information as it becomes available,” according to Wolf Trap’s website. “All current tickets will be honored for the rescheduled performances.”

All of the public shows between now and April 3 are postponed at The State Theatre in Falls Church.

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The Fairfax County Park Authority and the McLean Project for the Arts have revealed plans for an arts campus at Clemyjontri Park in McLean.

The meeting last Monday (Feb. 24) kicked off with a reception before presentations gave an overview of the park’s history and the current proposal, followed by a Q&A.

Adele Lebowitz and her family donated the property (6317 Georgetown Pike) to the Park Authority in 2000. The Park Master Plan was approved two years later, kicking off several phases of development that turned the park into a place to play for kids who use wheelchairs or who have sensory or developmental disabilities.

Now, MPA wants to expand its offerings, which are currently at the McLean Community Center, with an arts campus that will be intreated into, but distinct from, the park.

“We are thrilled,” Lori Carbonneau, MPA’s executive director, said during her presentation. “There is no art gallery in the world who wouldn’t love to have the 80,000 visitors that come to Clemyjontri each year at the front door steps of an art gallery.”

The campus would include galleries, studios, a creative outdoor space and turf parking at the end of the park closest to Route 123, Carbonneau said.

Of the three proposed galleries, one would be a blackbox space allowing for light installations, she said.

Carbonneau said that she is excited about combining the interests of people visiting for the park and for the arts campus — like a garden with native plants that can be used for dyes for fiber arts.

At the park, MPA tentatively plans to hold exhibits eight-12 times per year with 80-120 attendees and special events three times a year with 100-250 attendees. Carbonneau noted that two of MPA’s four largest events — MPA ArtReach and MPAartfest — would stay in their current locations.

“This new facility would build upon the existing visual arts programming currently provided by MPA through a public/private partnership with Fairfax County at the McLean Community Center,” according to the county.

As for the project’s costs, Carbonneau said that MPA has a roughly $1 million budget and will need to fundraise for the project.

Compass Nonprofit Consulting Group has given MPA an in-kind grant of $50,000 worth of consulting work, she said.

Of the roughly 10 people who commented at the meeting, a handful mentioned potential issues.

One person raised concerns about adding security measures like a gate to keep frisky teenagers away, while another said that standing water at one area might impact construction.

“We are aware of neighborhood concerns about evening music,” Carbonneau said, adding that parking is also a concern, which could get resolved by offering a bus.

As the process continues for the proposal, the plan will have to head to the county board for special exemption process and get reviewed by the Park Authority.

“We’re not starting from scratch in terms of a new master plan,” Ryan Stewart, the park planning supervisor for the Park Authority, said.

The entire process could take a year or more. Carbonneau said aiming for completion in 2022 for MPA’s 60th anniversary would be “aggressive.”

“It’s a fabulous combination of the space and nature,” she said.

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Fairfax County is seeking proposals that would revamp the former home of the Container Store into a pop-up space.

The site sits across from Embassy Suites by Hilton by the Spring Hill Metro station. After the Container Store relocated from 8508 Leesburg Pike to 8459 Leesburg Pike in 2018, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors bought the site.

The county announced yesterday (Monday) that the new Department of Economic Initiatives has an inaugural pilot aiming to “transform vacant commercial spaces into economic development destinations,” and its first commercial space will be the Leesburg Pike spot, according to the press release.

Rebecca Moudry, the new department’s director, told Tysons Reporter that the “Activate Fairfax: 8508 Uncontained” project is a “bold initiative” focused on supporting small businesses, encouraging creative placemaking and supporting the Made in Fairfax Network, which helps local producers.

Moudry, who started as the director in October, said that the “pretty small” department is staffed by 11 people and is embedded within a larger county structure that works with partners like the planning, transportation and economic development departments.

The department chose “Activate Fairfax: 8508 Uncontained” as its first project to fit into the bigger picture of people moving away from suburban and office environments to urban, multi-modal options, she said.

“It’s actually what we’re trying to do,” she said about the project’s name. “We literally want to activate this particular space.”

Currently, the county plans to add a new street that would connect Leesburg Pike and Greensboro Drive, the Washington Business Journal reported last year.

Moudry said that it could take three to five years before the county kicks off the road work. Until then, the initiative looks to turn the vacant 19,000-square-foot storefront into a useful space.

While Moudry said that other programs in the region and around the country have focused on pop-ups and activities, Moudry said that “Activate Fairfax: 8508 Uncontained” is looking for pop-ups that will last longer than usual.

“We’re not talking a weekend or a couple of months,” she added.

The county is accepting applications that intend “to develop, implement, manage and market an activation program” until April 20, the press release said.

“Dynamic pop-up, cultural, artistic or community-oriented programming aligned with these goals will be encouraged to ensure that the space functions as a vibrant asset and experience for residents and visitors,” the press release said.

Moudry said she hopes the applicants generate new ideas and innovate concepts. “We have a set of goals and parameters for what we’re looking for within the space,” she said.

Two tours of the space for applicants and their potential contractors will be held at 1 p.m. on March 9 and March 23, Moudry said.

Once the application window closes, Moudry said the staff will take a few weeks to review the proposals and talk with potential operators about lease agreements. The goal is to launch the chosen proposal this year — potentially in the fall.

People interested in learning more can visit the Fairfax County website’s Activate Fairfax page.

Image via Google Maps

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Next week, people will be able to get more information about a proposal that would add an arts and education center at Clemyjontri Park in McLean.

Located in the Langley neighborhood, the park (6317 Georgetown Pike) features a playground, swing set, carousel and trackless train, with opportunities for kids who use wheelchairs or who have sensory or developmental disabilities. The park also has a picnic pavilion.

“The name CLEMYJONTRI is derived from the donor’s four children: Carolyn (CL), Emily (EMY), John (Jon), and Petrina (Tri),” according to Fairfax County’s website, adding that the Fairfax County Park Authority owns and operates the park.

Now, the county and the McLean Project for the Arts want to build a gallery exhibition space and arts education classroom facilities at the park, according to the county.

More from the county on the idea:

MPA envisions an all-inclusive art center which provides a creative respite for the community that is integrated into, yet distinct from, Clemyjontri Park. The center could potentially exhibit the work of contemporary artists; offer arts instruction and classroom space; and include public artwork in the park. ​

This new facility would build upon the existing visual arts programming currently provided by MPA through a public/private partnership with Fairfax County at the McLean Community Center (MCC).

MPA will continue its award-winning exhibitions in the Emerson Gallery and maintain its robust visual arts instruction and DuVal Studio, both at the MCC.

The Fairfax County Park Authority and the McLean Project for the Arts plan to hold an open house to discuss the proposal on Monday (Feb. 24).

The meeting is set to start at 6:30 p.m. with a presentation at 7 p.m. at MPA’s Emerson Gallery at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue).

Staff from both the county and the McLean Project for the Arts plan to attend the meeting to answer questions.

Photo via The Pushy Lawyer/Facebook

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre has nabbed 18 Helen Hayes Awards nominations — making it the second most nominated theater this year in the D.C. area.

The awards, which were announced last night, recognize excellence in professional theatre in the D.C. area.

The awards are split into two main categories: the “Hayes” for productions featuring a majority of theater union members and the “Helen” for productions with fewer union members.

The Tysons theater trailed Olney Theatre Center’s 27 nominations for the most for any theater.

Here is the full list of nominations:

  • Airness” with Keegan Theatre — Outstanding Choreography in a Play, Outstanding Sound Design, James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play, Outstanding Choreography in a Play
  • columbinus” — Outstanding Lighting Design, Outstanding Sound Design, Outstanding Direction in a Play, Outstanding Ensemble in a Play, James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play, Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
  • The Brothers Size” — Outstanding Production in a Play, Outstanding Set Design, Outstanding Sound Design, Outstanding Direction in a Play, Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play, Outstanding Production in a Play
  • The Royale” with Olney Theatre Center — Outstanding Choreography in a Play, Outstanding Sound Design

Last year, 1st Stage won five of its 22 nominations.

The winners will be announced on Monday, May, 18, at the Anthem in D.C.

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(Updated 1/27/20) The Traveling Players Ensemble now has its first permanent indoor facility since the organization’s founding 18 years ago. And it’s in Tysons.

Located in Tysons Corner Center, adjacent to the former Lord and Taylor spot on level one, the 42,000-square-foot studio serves as a practice spot for kids involved in the theater group, according to Jeanne Harrison, the founder and artistic program director of Traveling Players.

The studio opened on Jan. 11 and Harrison said it hosted 10 events within the first three days.

The studio’s current location in the mall previously held a restaurant called the Magic Pan in the 80s’ where Harrison said she was both a waitress and hostess in 1987 and 1988.

On weekends, roughly 30 kids participating in the program will gather and practice for upcoming performances, according to Harrison.

In March, Traveling Players Ensemble will debut two performances at Tysons Corner Center, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Students put in anywhere from three to upwards of six hours of work per week at the facility, depending on age, Harrison said.

With a 70% retention rate between age groups, Harrison said Traveling Players Ensemble’s retention rate is high because the group focuses on the students’ development.

“They get what I like to call ‘experiential learning,'” she said. 

Going forward, the center will host a spring break camp as well as summer camps.

“We are baby-stepping our way through this,” Harrison said, adding that they are still figuring out requirements for indoor practice — which is a shift from the group’s typical outdoor programming.

Parents who register their kids before Feb. 11 will receive a competitive discount, according to Harrison.

Photo courtesy Jeanne Harrison

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The City of Falls Church is pitching in to help Creative Cauldron launch its “Bold New Voices Musical Theater Festival” later this year.

The festival is set to run from April 27-May 6. “The goal of the festival is aimed at supporting musical theater works by women and women-identifying writers and composers,” according to the website.

Creative Cauldron received $2,500 in city funding with a $2,500 match from the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA) for the festival, along with $13,437 in city funding for an operational grant, according to a press release from the city.

Creative Cauldron was one of six local groups that received grants for arts-related activities and support.

“The Falls Church City Council recently approved a recommendation from the Arts and Humanities Grant committee to allocate $45,000 in funding for arts and cultural grants for fiscal year 2019-2020,” the press release said. “An additional $4,500 was funded through a grant from the [VCA].”

Of the 12 total grants, five are operational ones, while seven are for projects, including:

Recipients include Creative Cauldron, Falls Church Arts, The Little City CATCH Foundation, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, Washington Sinfonietta, and Welcoming Falls Church. Details on their projects and operational needs are listed below:

  • Falls Church Arts: $2,016 in city funds with a $500 VCA match to improve event capacity outside the studio
  • Falls Church Arts: $2,000 in city funds with a $1,500 VCA match to support increased capacity for studio classes
  • The Little City CATCH Foundation: $4,784 in city funds for Watch Night
  • Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation: $5,000 in city funds for promoting the 2019 Tinner Hill Blues Festival
  • Washington Sinfonietta: $416 in city funds to support a free holiday concert at the Falls Church Episcopal Church
  • Welcoming Falls Church: $2,284 in city funds for the Welcoming Week initiative about the contemporary immigrant experience

Currently, Creative Cauldron has a call for submissions through Friday (Jan. 10) for the festival and plans to select three to five new works, along with several finalists.

“One final musical will be chosen by our resident artistic team at the end of the festival to have a fully funded production staged as part of Creative Cauldron’s 2020-2021 season,” according to Creative Cauldron.

Image via Creative Cauldron/Facebook

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A few of the painted wooden benches auctioned off are set to return to spots around Vienna for community use.

Earlier this year, the Vienna Arts Society showcased the benches painted by artists around the town to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary.

The auction on Nov. 2 sold the benches for roughly $50,000. Of the 41 sold, eight of them will find permanent homes around prominent public areas including the Patrick Henry Library and the Vienna Community Center, according to Vienna’s newsletter.

At the auction, Mayor Laurie DiRocco and her husband purchased “Church Street, Vienna VA USA” and plan to place it at the Freeman Store and Museum, the newsletter said. DiRocco was one of seven buyers who donated benches.

Sylvia Spengler, a community member, also donated two benches, the newsletter added.

“We’re so grateful to the Vienna Arts Society for sharing its cumulative talent with the community and we’re thrilled that several of the benches will remain in the public domain,” Leslie Herman, the director of parks and recreation, said.

Other benches which can soon be found around town include:

  • “Sit” and “Play Time” at the Vienna Dog Park
  • “Creative Kids” at Cunningham Elementary School
  • “Pleasures of Vienna” at the Town Green, near the fountain
  • “The Kaleidoscope Cats” at the Vienna Community Center
  • “Unlock the Cosmos” at the Patrick Henry Library

Image via Town of Vienna

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