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Arlington advocacy group continues quest for performance center

Finding a location is key to getting ball rolling, organization's president says

An arts-advocacy group begins 2024 as it did 2023 – on the hunt for a location and funding to support a dedicated, community-based performance center in Arlington

“Our number-one goal for 2024 is to locate a site for a new performing-arts center, to allow us to move forward on this critical project with a capital campaign,” said Janet Kopenhaver, president of Embracing Arlington Arts.

Her comments came as part of a year-end review of the organization’s successes and challenges.

The advocacy group in 2022 laid out a plan for a venue that would cost about $10 million to build and, based on its business model, require a modest annual subsidy to operate. But early optimism that a site could be found quickly and construction started by late 2023 or early 2024 did not bear fruit. So the search continues.

Boosters of the proposal are well aware of the pitfalls moving forward without a reasonable funding plan in place. They need only look to the county government’s efforts at the Artisphere, a venue that for a time occupied space in Rosslyn used by the Newseum prior to its move to the District of Columbia.

The government’s business model was based on what turned out to be a wildly overoptimistic business plan; the venue bled cash until officials in 2015 put the facility and taxpayers out of their collective misery and shut it down.

Embracing Arlington Arts believes that a much more modest approach to a performance space, without direct involvement of the county government, could work where the Artisphere experiment failed.

For more on Embracing Arlington Arts and its efforts of 2023, see the Website at