Concerns over Arlington’s art and culture have become an issue recently after the Artisphere, an arts center in Rosslyn, closed in June 2015. The Ellipse Arts Center also closed a few years prior, and future redevelopment plans for Rosslyn Plaza will eventually close the Spectrum Theatre. But when the Artisphere closed, unspent privately raised funding was left in an account managed by the Arlington Community Foundation, and the county cultural affairs office wants to put it to good use by providing a mobile art truck.
The art truck will be a mobile art installation that allows the community not only to view the artists’ finished works but also to see them work through their artistic process and participate in interactive activities. The county will also be sending library books and county members to register library cards and doing community outreach via surveys specific to the areas the art truck will be stopping in.
“It will act more as a toolbox than a gallery,” says Cynthia Connolly, special projects curator for Arlington Arts. The truck will encourage community participation and involvement.
“The main goal of the art truck is to demystify the art, to tear down the four walls, turn it inside out and bring the museum to the people,” says Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of Arlington Arts and Cultural Affairs. Through this, Arlington Cultural Affairs hopes to inspire people to be more creative in their daily lives and create a freeform discussion and interaction of art.
Arlington Cultural Affairs wished to procure and transfer the Artisphere grant and combine it with funds from other cultural fund accounts for a new art project for the community, which would not require any additional taxpayer money to implement the truck. They requested grant funding totaling $68,492 ($29,532 of that amount being from the Artisphere fund) from the county board for the truck to be purchased, developed and implemented. The board authorized the grant in July, but board member John Vihstadt was skeptical about the long-term viability and cost-effectiveness, stating how important a comprehensive arts strategic planning process is for the arts in Arlington.
Arlington Cultural Affairs should be encouraged, though, after seeing the response to local artist Kate Stewart’s parking lot mural and German artist SatOne’s mural painting at Arlington’s Courthouse Plaza, both of which garnered positive public attention, showing that Arlington is receptive to art in public places.
Arlington Cultural Affairs currently hopes to have the art truck implemented by spring 2017.