Tysons, VA

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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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

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County to Receive an Additional $4.85 Million in CARES Act Funding— “Through this final allocation, Fairfax County will receive an additional $4.85 Million in federal funding to assist residents facing higher risk of eviction and help combat the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Fairfax County]

3 F.C. Council Candidates Appear at First Joint Campaign Event — “A new breed of candidates for public office has surfaced in the race to temporarily fill a vacancy on the Falls Church City Council.” [Falls Church News-Press]

D.C. Restaurants Turn to Pop-up Concepts to Stay Afloat — “Bethesda’s URBNmarket is bringing a socially distant Oktoberfest event to Tysons on Oct. 9 and 10 with seasonal beverages in the pop-up biergarten.” [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Mom Plans Meal Packing Efforts During Pandemic — “Through her LiftLikeAMother​ Amplify program, McLean’s Alicia McKenzie coordinates meal packing efforts to help those in need.” [Patch]

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After receiving thousands of applications, Fairfax County officials want to add funds to its grant program to support more small businesses and nonprofits facing financial turmoil from the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider spending $20 million to expand Fairfax RISE, according to the draft agenda for the meeting.

The county board originally made the grant program in May with $25 million from funds through the CARES Act. Businesses can receive the following amounts based on the number of employees:

  • 1-10: $10,000
  • 11-25: $15,000
  • 26-49: $20,000

The county is especially trying to help women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses stay in business during the pandemic.

Of the 6,280 applications the county received in June, 6,038 qualified for funding, meaning the county would need more than $60 million to support all of them, according to the county.

“As the Grant Program was oversubscribed, a random selection was used to determine the order of processing for all applicants,” according to county documents.

The county invited 2,183 applicants — 36% of the total qualified applicants — to submit documentation and start the certification process. The county documents say that some businesses that qualified during the first review phase may become disqualified in the second review phase if they don’t meet the documentation requirements or don’t respond.

Now, county officials hope that expanding the program will fund approximately 65%-80% of the June applicants by adding $20 million from the county, along with the $1 million provided from the Town of Vienna.

Currently, the county is not accepting new submissions from businesses.

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(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

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(Updated 5:40 p.m.) The Town of Vienna is giving $1 million to support Fairfax County’s new grant program to financially help town businesses.

The town announced the news today (Wednesday), saying that it’s giving some of its funds from the CARES Act to the county’s RISE grant program. The town received roughly $2.9 million in CARES Act funding at the end of April, according to the town newsletter.

“While the $1 million being provided by the Town of Vienna is designated specifically for Town businesses only, Vienna businesses also will be eligible for funding through the county grant program beyond the Town’s contribution,” according to the press release.

Natalie Monkou, the town’s economic development manager, said in the press release that the town originally thought about creating its own grant program, but decided that the county had more resources.

“Fairfax County has the infrastructure already in place to execute a grant program for businesses,” Monkou said, adding that the county will give businesses “more immediate access to grant funding.”

At least 30% of the total RISE funding will go to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, she added.

“When we did a business survey a few weeks ago, one of the main things we heard was that businesses need access to capital, and that can be even more true for veteran-, minority-, and women-owned businesses,” she said. “The CARES Act allows us to provide this important assistance to our small businesses.”

The county’s grant program currently has $26 million for small businesses and nonprofits, according to the press release. The grant application will be open from June 8-15.

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Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Fairfax County can apply for grants through a new program approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The Fairfax Relief Initiative to Support Employers (Fairfax RISE) uses $25 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program is intended to provide immediate relief for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and “address gaps that may exist among complementary programs,” according to the county.

Our hope is that these grants will help small businesses and nonprofits be able to emerge from these difficult times by retaining employees and preparing to grow in the future,” Fairfax County Chairman Jeff McKay wrote in a statement.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations can begin applying in early June. Funding will be awarded based on the number of employees, with amounts varying from $10,000 to $20,000.

Funding can be used for compensation, capital, equipment, inventory, rent and other critical operating expenses. No grant funds can be used to pay debts to start or close a business.

Here’s more from a press release:

Fairfax RISE will offer grants to qualified businesses or nonprofits that will not have to be repaid. It also specifically establishes a minimum allocation of 30% of the program’s total dollars — or $7.5 million — towards awards for minority-, veteran-, and women- owned businesses.

Not only have these kinds of businesses historically faced difficulty obtaining financing, but they also make a major contribution to the county’s economy. Minority-owned companies with employees account for 32% percent of businesses in Fairfax County, and collectively, all minority, women and veteran-owned businesses employ 80,000 people in the county with total annual revenues of $14.4 billion.

The grant application process is expected to begin in early June 2020. To be eligible, applicants must be established and have one or more location(s) in Fairfax County, including the principal place of business. Fairfax County includes businesses and nonprofit organizations located in the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, and Clifton. Additionally, awardees must have less than 50 total employees across all locations, have been in operation over 1 year; and, with the exception of nonprofits, have a valid Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses (BPOL).

The county also created a microloan fund for small businesses using county dollars.

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Battle of the Books — “The Cunningham Park Elementary seventh annual (and first virtual) Battle of the Books took place on Friday, May 8, on Google Meet.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Student Turns Home Into Mask Factory — “13-year-old Sasha used her sewing skills to transform fabric, elastic, and lots of passion into 225 face masks for 911 first responders in Fairfax County. As the self-appointed project foreman, Sasha, a Cooper Middle School student, manned the sewing machine while her parents mostly helped cut and pin fabric.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Cha-ching for the Cleaners — “In Tysons, Bearfoot Ventures has branched out from mostly health care facilities to a broader base of buildings, ranging from foreign embassies to senior living facilities and commercial office spaces, said CEO Jeb Byrne… Byrne estimates Bearfoot is on a trajectory to boost annual revenue from about $1 million in 2019 to top $5 million over the next eight to 12 months.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Grant Program for Small Businesses — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted [yesterday] to create the Fairfax Relief Initiative to Support Employers (Fairfax RISE). Fairfax RISE is a new $25 million grant program to assist small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. The program will be funded using federal CARES Act funds provided to the county.” [Fairfax County]

Scavenger Hunt in Vienna — “In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Eric Monday Foundation collaborated with the Town of Vienna to create a #TakeDownTheStigma Scavenger Hunt to encourage families to walk on the trails.” [Eric Monday Foundation]

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Takeout and Delivery List for Tysons Area — Washingtonina has compiled an alphabetical list of eateries in Tysons, Vienna and McLean offering takeout and delivery. [Washingtonian]

Locals Helping to Save McLean Restaurant — Chris Mylonas, who help start Mylo’s Grill at the Chesterbrook Shopping Center says that locals have been helping the restaurant stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. [Connection Newspapers]

McLean Student Teaching Knitting Classes — “McLean High School Senior Amanda Mullet is working hard to bring both stress relief and a new hobby to her neighbors and friends through her Girl Scout Gold Award Project… She set about teaching her friends and peers how to knit.” [Connection Newspapers]

Little City Turns to Public to Support Grants — The City of Falls Church is asking residents and businesses to submit comments on the West Falls Church Connection to W&OD Trail and the Downtown Falls Church Multimodal Improvements projects to help the city get grants from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. [City of Falls Church]

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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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