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The organizations that make up the new collaborative, Northern Virginia Local Arts Agencies (courtesy ArtsFairfax)

Arts agencies from Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria are forming a supergroup.

Unveiled Monday (Aug. 8), the newly created Northern Virginia Local Arts Agencies (NVLAA) consists of ArtsFairfax, the Alexandria Office of the Arts, and the Arlington Cultural Affairs Office. Its initial ambitions are modest, centered mostly on professional development, but the pooled resources could be a boon for the local arts community.

“The more opportunities that are available and cross-promotion that we can provide, getting the word out and reaching artists and organizations that can use this type of support, it benefits everyone,” ArtsFairfax Senior Director of Grants & Services Lisa Mariam said, noting that many artists do work across the three jurisdictions.

The collective can trace its origins back to the pre-pandemic days of early 2020, when the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts approached all three agencies to see if they were interested in collaborating on workshops for artists, Mariam told FFXnow.

Formed in 1983, WALA is a nonprofit of volunteering lawyers who provide education, advocacy, and legal services to artists and cultural organizations in the D.C. area, according to its website.

The groups started planning a series of workshops that Mariam says was always intended to be virtual, since it would serve participants from across the region. That decision proved fortuitous, though, after COVID-19 shut down in-person gatherings and events in the spring of 2020.

The desire to collaborate reemerged last year when ArtsFairfax invited its Arlington and Alexandria counterparts to an “Art of Mass Gatherings” symposium aimed at helping festivals prepare for emergencies. Though based in McLean, the event drew participants from all three localities over two days in October.

After that experience, staff at the different agencies started discussing other ways to collaborate, especially for professional development, as local arts groups were trying to find their footing during the pandemic.

“It’s been really great for us, because we each have limited resources for this type of programming,” Mariam said. “Sharing the costs as well as the logistical support involved in pulling off these programs and promoting them works really well with a collaborative like this.”

ArtsFairfax received nearly $1.4 million from Fairfax County for the current fiscal year, which started on July 1. That included a $250,000 increase over the previous year to bolster the agency’s grants program. The organization also gets funding from state, federal, nonprofit and private sources.

NVLAA will officially launch this fall with four online workshops: Read More

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Tysons Corner Center is now home to one of three “LOVE” signs in Fairfax County (courtesy Tysons Corner Center)

Local artists could get their work seen by tens of millions of people under a new partnership between Tysons Corner Center and Fairfax County’s official arts agency.

Property owner and developer Macerich announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it has teamed up with ArtsFairfax on an initiative to enlist individual artists and groups “to activate several spaces” in the mall with temporary installations.

The selected artwork will be on display for at least eight weeks, according to the press release:

The goals for this initiative are to create unique and interactive art environments, echo Tysons Corner Center as a contemporary and creative destination, and most importantly, to showcase the talents of local artists and arts organizations.

This unique collaboration will enable the more than 22 million yearly visitors who explore Tysons Corner Center’s retail and entertainment offerings to discover the diversity, creativity, and quality of visual artists from the Fairfax region.

The submission period opened on July 7, and contracts will be awarded on a rolling basis through Dec. 31, according to ArtsFairfax.

Applications can be filed through ArtsFairfax’s website, but they’re being evaluated solely by Macerich.

Tysons Corner Center also announced yesterday that it has recently acquired a permanent installation: a 6-foot-tall, 7,000-pound “LOVE” sign.

The sign comes from the Virginia Tourism Corporation as part of its ongoing “LOVE works” campaign, which has placed more than 300 similar signs across the state. The Tysons Corner Center sign will be just the third in Fairfax County, joining displays at Reston Station and the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

“The steel display features a uniquely designed ‘V’ that represents the shopping center,” Tysons Corner Center said in the press release. “This installation also has a QR code in which, upon scanning, visitors will learn about tourism in Fairfax County and things to do in the surrounding area.”

The mall says the installation was funded with a grant from the VTC’s DRIVE Tourism 2.0 plan, which is the state’s blueprint for promoting travel and tourism, and “was made possible through a partnership with Visit Fairfax and Virginia Tourism.”

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A visitor walks into Capital One Hall in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

For a second year in a row, ArtsFairfax will hold its annual celebration of the local arts community on Oct. 28 at Capital One Hall, which also happens to be one of this year’s award recipients.

The Tysons performing arts venue will receive the Jinx Hazel Arts Award, the top honor from ArtsFairfax, the nonprofit Fairfax County arts agency announced last Tuesday (May 17).

The 2022 Arts Awards will also honor philanthropists Gary and Tina Mather, actor and former Reston Community Center assistant technical director Mark Brutsché, and George Mason University’s Fall for the Book festival, which will get a new Innovation Award.

“We are delighted to honor the remarkable contributions of this year’s Arts Awards honorees, who have all demonstrated a deep commitment to our community and to making Fairfax arts and culture more accessible,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said in the news release.

According to ArtsFairfax, the awards ceremony draws approximately 300 patrons every year. The 2021 awards were among the first events hosted by Capital One Hall, which opened on Oct. 1 at 7750 Capital One Tower Road.

Proceeds from the awards support the nonprofit’s activities, which include artist residencies, grants, promotion of local arts and cultural organizations, and advocacy for the arts.

ArtsFairfax announced on Thursday (May 19) that it had received a $55,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to expand its artist residency program, which currently places professional artists in middle schools across the county to help educate students.

With the grant, the nonprofit says it will bring artists to a public elementary school, a public library, a county park, a community center, and an affordable housing development.

“By placing professional artists in communities with less access to arts, artists in residence can share their art form and spark creativity for participants of all ages,” ArtsFairfax said.

Here’s more from ArtsFairfax on this year’s Arts Awards recipients: Read More

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Kids gather at Lake Fairfax Park for a day of fishing on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to advance proposed spending adjustments to help its park authority, ArtsFairfax and nonprofits.

County leaders approved the changes at a budget markup meeting, serving as a final step before the board adopts the final fiscal year 2023 budget on May 10.

The approved adjustments to the advertised budget, which was presented in February, include:

  • $751,954 and three new positions to support the Park’s natural resources sustainability efforts to help maintain the system’s actively managed acres
  • $250,000 for ArtsFairfax to supplement the organization’s existing grant program for the arts
  • $825,000 in additional funding for nonprofits to cover contract rate increases for direct health and human service providers
  • $6.1 million for a salary increase for certain public safety workers
  • Removal of an additional six positions and a decrease of $804,258 in funding that was initially proposed in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney

“Fairfax NAACP is pleased to see the [Board of Supervisors’] recognition of the importance of parks shared extensively in their pre-markup plan,” Lydia Lawrence, the organization’s environmental and climate justice lead, said in an email to FFXnow.

The park authority had wanted $5 million to reduce financial barriers to certain fee-based amenities, such as golf courses and the RECenters. The $500,000 allocated to the equity program will stay the same as the advertised budget, but the budget markup suggests it could serve as a pilot for possible expansion in the future.

FCPA board members also expressed concern over how changes to a bond referendum cycle could affect capital projects.

“We are glad to see the BOS recommendation to meet FCPA’s natural resource ask,” Lawrence wrote. “While there were no changes to the County Executive’s proposed equity funding and bond movement, we trust the BOS’s commitment in the pre-markup plan to work closely with FCPA and the community to adequately fund FCPA’s future capital improvements and equity projects.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the board will still support capital projects, such as planned Audrey Moore and Mount Vernon RECenter renovations.

ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said the arts agency wants to be able to better serve the 200-plus nonprofit arts organizations that are still striving for recovery following the sector’s mass closures, staff reductions and income loss during the pandemic.

“With the County’s additional funding, we hope to reach those organizations who have not benefited from past emergency relief funding, as well as arts organizations who represent historically underserved or economically disadvantaged areas of the County, and organizations who represent cultural traditions that reflect the diversity of County residents,” she said in a statement.

The budget markup process followed three days of public hearings on April 12-14, where community members expressed their opinions on issues from affordable housing to employee vacancies.

Other changes include a reduction in the machinery and tools tax from $4.57 to $2 per $100 of assessed value. Supervisors said that would help small business and economic development.

The budget will also bring changes to employee compensation, county services and tax relief, most notably for real estate and vehicle assessments.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

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