News

F.C. Mandates ‘Arts & Cultural District,’ New Arts Space Hums

City Advances Image as Home to Humanities

The Falls Church City Council took a major step toward establishing another progressive and defining feature for Falls Church Monday when it voted unanimously to designate a key downtown area of the City as an “Arts and Cultural District” where special tax incentives and regulatory flexibility can augment ongoing efforts to build, market, and win public support for a wide variety of commercial and volunteer arts opportunities in the City.

City Advances Image as Home to Humanities

 

The Falls Church City Council took a major step toward establishing another progressive and defining feature for Falls Church Monday when it voted unanimously to designate a key downtown area of the City as an “Arts and Cultural District” where special tax incentives and regulatory flexibility can augment ongoing efforts to build, market, and win public support for a wide variety of commercial and volunteer arts opportunities in the City.

The move came only three days after a major contribution to one of the City’s most established new arts efforts was made by Dominion Virginia Power in a brief ceremony last Friday.

Dominion presented a check for $20,000 to the non-profit Creative Cauldron arts education entity, spearheaded by Laura Conners Hull, to fund a “green stage lighting system” at the newly-opened and still under construction ArtSpace Falls Church on S. Maple Avenue.

The ArtSpace Falls Church, obtained by the City with reduced rent as a proffer from the developers of the new large-scale mixed use project, Pearson Square, where it is located, has been built out and furnished by efforts spearheaded by Creative Cauldron, and in conjunction with the all-volunteer Falls Church Arts. The space is described as a 3,000 square foot flexible arts facility.

The Dominion Virginia Power grant will fund a stage and gallery lighting system that is both environmentally-friendly and cost effective in its manufacture and operation. The “green” system features more LED instruments and compact fluorescents, and uses one-fourth the energy of a normal theatrical lighting grid.

This summer, Creative Cauldron held its summer camps in the space for the first time, and served a capacity of over 250 elementary school-aged students, up more than 50 percent from the previous year. Its first of two summer camps culminated with a “Flights of Fancy” student performance before a capacity audience last Friday.

Falls Church Arts has also hung its first art exhibition in the space, composed of locally-created works.

The Council’s action to create an Arts and Cultural District, as provided for by Virginia state law, culminated a study process begun last September, when the Council created a citizen task force to explore the issue. The task force presented its report in June, with general boundaries of the district covering most of the downtown area of Falls Church.

The area subsumes the ArtSpace, Cherry Hill Park, historic sites and key existing commercial arts venues, such as the State Theatre and restaurants that regularly offer live music. Council members Monday stressed that the boundaries should remain flexible to cover projects not currently contemplated. The task force recommended the district’s shape and size should be such that it is “attainable, undiluted, energy-focusing, walkability-based and themed where appropriate.”

In conjunction with the move, which will take final shape through an upcoming modification of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, the Council voted to establish an advisory board as also recommended by the task force.

The board will go under the title of “Humanities Council: City of Arts, Theatre, Cultures and History,” or “Humanities: CATCH.”

The Council resolution designated that the body will consist of one representative from each of 14 City entities, each serving three-year terms. The groups include the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, Falls Church Arts, Creative Cauldron, Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Authority, Victorian Society, Village Preservation and Improvement Society, Friends of Cherry Hill, City Council Liaison, Planning Commission Liaison, Library Board of Trustees, Historical Commission, Public School staff, and general government staff.

At Monday’s Council meeting, Former Vice Mayor Marty Meserve, now chairman of the board of Creative Cauldron, Barbara Cram, representing Falls Church Arts, and Lindy Hockenberry, speaking in support of the Tinner Hill Foundation’s annual Blues Festival, spoke in support of the creation of the new Arts and Cultural District.

In the continued effort to promote its capital campaign for the ArtSpace, Creative Cauldron and Falls Church Arts will be the beneficiaries of a fundraising effort at the Dogfish Head Alehouse at the Seven Corners Center on Tuesday, Aug. 18. On that day, from 11:30 a.m. to closing, 15 percent of all sales will be donated to the effort.

Since its founding in 2002, Creative Cauldron has provided educational programs and affordable access to the performing and visual arts to over 5,000 children, teens and adults.