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What will the Arlington County Board do now?

On April 6, 2012, we growled about the message sent to the County Board by the county’s Civic Federation earlier that week to either “fix it or close” the Artisphere -- the cultural center in Rosslyn that is struggling financially.

At ARLnow.com today, their headline reads, “Latest Artisphere Financial Results a Mixed Bag.” The story’s lede puts it like this:

“The good news for Artisphere, the county’s struggling cultural center in Rosslyn, is that it just had a certified hit in the form of its month-long Frida Kahlo photo exhibit. The bad news is that it’s still falling short of meeting a number of financial goals laid out in a new business plan last year.”

The ARLnow.com online news service also reported:

“The biggest revenue bright spot for Artisphere so far has been donations and event sponsorships, both of which are expected to meet or exceed the goal for the year. Most of that income, however, came from a single source: the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

“Other numbers are trending in a positive direction. Despite the fact that Artisphere’s operating hours have been more than cut in half, overall visitorship has been largely unaffected. And, partially as a result of the cut in hours, the “density of visitors” has increased from an average of 7 visitors per hour in December to 54 visitors per hour in March. Still, attendance at three of Artisphere’s five performance venues — the Dome theater, Spectrum theater and education lab — are well below expectations.”

The following “plan vs. actual” chart is from the news story:

As a friend quipped, it's time to close the Arlington County Board's Officers' Club (aka Artisphere -- where the Board goes to party, free). This would be item #1 if Arlington had an Inspector General. Perhaps it's why it doesn't.  And that $22 million homeless shelter "eminent domain" project would be #2.


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