And keep an eye out for more Live Arts Arlington events to be announced!
Live Arts Arlington Launches
It’s a warm day in May. You pick up a coffee to go, head outside to enjoy the spring, and see…a belly dancer in Broadway Plaza? Or hear the strains of acoustic guitar drifting across Uncle Sam Plaza? Or enjoy folk tales told by exquisite puppets in a miniature theater outside a local café?
It’s all part of a new initiative called Live Arts Arlington. Performances will be popping up in public places in the Town Center this May and June thanks to the volunteer arts activists who work together as the Programs & Festivals Committee, a new group formed by the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture. Live Arts is the Committee’s first project, a pilot effort in partnership with artists designed to encourage public performance and creation in the Town. The group has invited diverse artists to step out and share their expertise on sidewalks, parks and plazas where people will encounter and enjoy their work.
Arlington has had a street performance – or busking – ordinance on the books for several years, but it has been tough going for performers who put out a hat. “We are trying to identify the spaces in town where artists will attract supportive audiences,” explained Cristin Canterbury Bagnall. In her day job, Bagnall is a freelance producer, collaborating with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band, and the Silkroad Ensemble. As an ACAC commissioner, her focus returns to her local community, where she and her husband are raising a daughter. “The P&F committee was inspired by a vision of our neighborhoods becoming more vibrant; imagine if local artists played regularly in our busy spaces, making brunch, ice cream, even errands so much more interesting. So we launched Live Arts Arlington to experiment with activating key spaces to see what works and what doesn’t.”
Lidia Kenig-Scher, another member of the committee and the Co-Chair of the Arlington artists’ networking group ArtLinks, is excited about the diversity of Live Arts. “It was really important to us to include ALL artists” she said, “so you might find someone out painting a portrait or weaving a complicated basket. We want poets, dancers, theater people – we’re not restricting busking to musicians. That’s innovative and unusual!”
P&F Committee Chair Tom Davison, the founder of the Arlington Alive Arts Festival and active in Arlington’s arts community, added that the group envisions a future when artists take initiative in running Live Arts. “We want the program to become self-sustaining,” he explained. “Once we have identified the best times and locations, and given the program an identity, we plan to create a place on the artsarlington.org website where artists can sign up for opportunities that work for them. We hope the public will embrace this initiative and show their support by leaving something in the artists’ hats”. Members of the public can also support art and performances in public spaces in Arlington by making a tax-deductible donation to the Public Art Fund on the town website – just note your contribution is for Live Arts on the form.
“It’s great that Live Arts will complement art installations I organize for Arlington Public Art,” said curator Cecily Miller. “I’ve loved getting to know the talented P&F Committee members, and they are helping me to expand the annual Fox Festival Parade this year. There is a lot of collaboration and synergy in the arts in Arlington now, it’s very exciting!”
On June 8, Live Arts Arlington will feature Garage Band, a dance party hosted by the colorfully painted Arlington Service Station on Mass Avenue in Arlington Center. Linda Shoemaker, the Director of the Arlington Center for the Arts also serves on the Programs and Festivals Committee. She is most excited about this event, which coincides with the end of Porchfest on June 8. “I’m looking forward to taking off my manager’s hat and putting on my dancing shoes. We’ve booked a great funk band, the leader played with the Village People and these guys know how to bring the party. Plus the wonderful School of HONK! will close Porchfest and open Garage Band, linking everything together with their joyful noise and trademark polka dots!”