You wouldn’t know it if you hung around City Hall, the city’s economic development team or even the Chamber of Commerce, but the City of Falls Church played host to one of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region’s classiest galas Sunday night, the so-called “Wammies,” at its State Theatre. This is the regional equivalent to the national “Grammy” awards, bringing the cream of the crop of the area’s creative music scene right into Falls Church. The State Theatre was packed to the rafters and so was the Ireland’s Four Provinces restaurant a half-block away for the after-party. In fact, a handful in Falls Church officialdom knew of it. Vice Mayor Lindy Hockenberry was there and another prominent citizen scored a gig working security.
But their interest was based primarily on their love of the music. Ms. Hockenberry gave out an award and “represented” for the City, but beyond that, there wasn’t any concerted effort on behalf of the City’s economic future.
Chalk it up to just one more case of a painfully-missed opportunity to promote Falls Church to the wider region. We shake our heads at the inertia in official places here which has prevented any steps from being taken to capitalize on a local institution, the State Theatre, having become a regional magnet, routinely bringing over 700 people from all over the metro area, to see concerts here.
Is there not any handout, has no one been to see the State’s Tom Carter about buying wall space in the lobby, promoting to these hundreds of people every night what other attractive things that Falls Church has to offer? What kind of neglect is involved here?
Of course, this is an old saw in this editorial space. We’ve said essentially the same thing ever since the State opened a decade ago. Needless to say, nothing has ever been done, not in all that time.
Properly marketed, the State Theatre phenomenon alone could be parlayed into day-long spending by hundreds of folks multiple times a week, and then snowballed through word of mouth. A concert at the State could be made to be seen as an occasion for meals and shopping beforehand, as well as after. Folks could be persuaded to spend the entire day here around any particular concert.
It is ironic, indeed, that in the context of all the interest and need for fresh revenues to the city through major economic development initiatives, a singular opportunity like this has been so badly missed.
Keys to success in life often involve the ability to identify special opportunities and to capitalize on them. Falls Church has one sitting right in its lap, and yet no one has lifted a finger to do anything about it.
We doubt if anyone at City Hall will suggest that the added tax revenue that could come from a marketing effort around the State Theatre doesn’t matter. Not in the current fiscal environment here. So then the question remains, why are city taxpayers being asked subsidize a glaring failure of initiative in this case?