Arlington turns its back on the Arts


Courtesy Artisphere 1On April 28, 2015 a few enlightened Arlington County residents mourned the passing of their beloved one and only Arts Center affectionately named Artisphere.
A simple Wikipedia search revealed several interesting tidbits about the short 5 year history of the Arts Center…

“Arlington County had sought a cultural center for decades and in 2009, Arlington County accepted the landlord’s offer to lease the space to the county rent free for 20 years for use as a cultural center. The lease was offered in conjunction with the site plan for a new skyscraper, also located in Rosslyn.[5]The cost to build a center from the ground up was estimated at $50 million.[12]The 62,000 sq ft (5,800 m2) Artisphere facility was converted at a cost of $6.7 million.  Artisphere hosted multiple opening events including a party titled Burst! The event, which was sponsored by Brightest Young Things and The Pink Line Project,[14] celebrated the launch of Artisphere and featured music, performances, video art, and visual art.[15] One of the attractions was balloon artist Katie Balloons who was filmed by cable television channel TLC for a reality show which featured the Burst! event.[16]

After the first year of operation, the center received mixed reviews. While it was voted the 2011 Best Arts Center in the Washington Post Express Readers’ Poll[17] and Best New Venue in the Washington City Paper Readers’ Poll,[18] the county determined that first year revenue and attendance expectations had not been met. In response, a task force was formed to create a new business plan for the center. The plan, implemented in 2012, included reduced operating hours and programming updates.”

From a promising beginning at a comparative 43.3 million dollar savings and with no rent for 20 years it appears that someone, perhaps the original Administrators, led the County to believe that if they built it we would come.  In response to those overblown expectations in 2012 after just 2 years the County decided that they would do just the opposite of what should have been done, so instead of firing the false promisers, hiring an inspirational leader and ratcheting up the programming they began to dim the lights and lock the doors to render the facility unavailable to the citizens who by all rights should have been outraged. I suppose one need not look any farther than the County Executives who make the kinds of decisions in private that befuddle the reasonably minded.
Art of course is a sure bet financial loser on most levels, from the creator to the curator so many have come and gone in the best of times. In spite of the risks of cultural richness, systemic failure to support creative endeavor on a community wide basis is tell tale to a dysfunctional society. Perhaps we can filter through and understand just what makes this particular failed experiment unique to Arlington… As a matter of course I felt Wikipedia was a good place to start and here are some bits and pieces that seemed to make the puzzle less of a challenge…

**Arlington is the highest-income county in the United States by median family income,[3] though it has the highest concentration of singles in the region.[4]

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the county was $94,876, and the median income for a family was $127,179.[49] Males had a median income of $51,011 versus $41,552 for females. The per capita income for the county was $37,706. About 5.00% of families and 7.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.10% of those under age 18 and 7.00% of those age 65 or over.

The age distribution was 16.50% under 18, 10.40% from 18 to 24, 42.40% from 25 to 44, 21.30% from 45 to 64, and 9.40% who were 65 or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 101.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.70 males.

CNN Money ranked Arlington as the most educated city in 2006 with 35.7% of residents having held graduate degrees. Along with five other counties in Northern Virginia, Arlington ranked among the twenty American counties with the highest median household income in 2006.[50] In 2009, the county was second in the nation (after nearby Loudoun County) for the percentage of people ages 25–34 earning over $100,000 annually (8.82% of the population).[4] [51] In August 2011, CNN Money ranked Arlington seventh in the country in its listing of “Best Places for the Rich and Single.”[52]

A number of federal agencies are headquartered in Arlington, including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, DARPA, Drug Enforcement Administration, Foreign Service Institute, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Transportation Security Administration, United States Department of Defense, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Marshals Service, and the United States Trade and Development Agency.

Companies and organizations[edit]

Brown metal and glass building, curved at the center and angled at the sides/

Park Four, former US Airwaysheadquarters in Crystal City

Companies headquartered in Arlington include AES, Alcalde and Fay, Arlington Asset Investment, CACI, Corporate Executive Board,ENVIRON International Corporation, ESI International, FBR Capital Markets, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Rosetta Stone and Strayer Education.

Organizations located here include Associated General Contractors, The Conservation Fund, Conservation International, the Consumer Electronics Association, The Fellowship, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, The Nature Conservancy, the Public Broadcasting Service, United Service Organizations, and the US-Taiwan Business Council.