The arts are an important part of the engine that generates Fairfax County’s almost $200 billion annual economy. Even more important, according to Linda Sullivan, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County, is the vital “quality of life” that the arts also fuel.
“The arts say to a community there’s something dynamic going on here. … As Fairfax continues to grow and change, the arts play a crucial role,” Sullivan told the sold-out crowd at the council’s 2013 Arts Awards, presented Oct. 25 at the Fairview Park Marriott.
It was a view expressed by many at the luncheon event—which drew a diverse mix of the county’s arts, business, civic and governmental communities, all there to celebrate arts-related, “visionary contributions” to the county.
Like Sullivan, Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, stressed how important the arts are to EDA’s mission.
“When we market Fairfax around the world, all forms of art, including public art, are important to us,” said Gordon, who accepted the council’s Jinx Hazel Arts Award on behalf of the authority.
Named in honor of the late Mrs. John “Til” Hazel, who was familiarly known as “Jinx,” this award honors individuals and organizations, like the EDA, which have played ongoing and significant roles in the county’s arts and cultural life.
Gordon personally is a dedicated supporter of the arts. Most recently, he served as chairman of the boards of the Arts Council and the Fairfax Symphony as well as serving on the foundation boards of the library system and park authority. Currently, he is serving as chairman of the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Acknowledging that he has “zero” artistic talent himself, Gordon noted how gratified he is that his position allows him “to be part of the arts.”
He explained, “There are a lot of organizations competing for support. … I always make a pitch for people not to neglect the arts.”
Dancer and dance teacher Kathryn Fredgren was the recipient of the council’s Arts Achievement Award. Now a resident of Reston, Fredgren and her husband founded The Center Dance Company in Arlington in 1981. The company, which has grown into one of the most respected dance training centers in Northern Virginia, moved to Baileys Crossroads in 2009, renaming itself The Ballet Nova Center for Dance. Although retired from Ballet Nova, she continues to serve on its board of directors.
From 2005 to 2011, as dance artist-in-residence, Fredgren also brought her innovative teaching and passion for dance to Reston’s Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts & Science.
Fredgren was honored by the council for “bringing the highest quality dance performances of classical ballet, contemporary and modern dance, jazz and tap dance to thousands of children and adults in Northern Virginia over the past 32 years.”
Displaying her well-known infectious spirit, Fredgren enthused, “I’m so privileged. … the arts open up doors in our souls.
The almost five-year-old Riverbend Opera Company received the Emerging Arts Award. Founded in 2009, its mission is to bring professional opera productions to Northern Virginia as well as providing performance opportunities for both established and emerging music professionals.
Performing at venues around Fairfax County and the metro region, its first production was a concert performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at the McLean Community Center. Eight productions and 30 performances later, the company, said Artistic Director John Turner, has learned “to come up with creative ways to bring our productions to life.” The intimacy of its various venues also has turned out to be a plus, he said, suggesting the immediacy enhances the experience.
In addition, since 2011, Riverbend has “teamed up” with advanced choral program students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, giving them an in-depth look into the world of opera.
A devotee of all art forms, Turner urged, “Every few months attend something outside your comfort zone.”
Cityline Partners, which was formed in 2010 to “own, manage and develop transit-oriented real estate holdings in Tysons,” received the council’s Arts Philanthropy Award. Tasked with “turning Tysons from a 50-year-old office park into a downtown,” Cityline is using art as a key element in creating “a sense of place.”
Said Tom D. Fleury, Cityline executive vice president, “We at Cityline feel a strong sense of stewardship for the residents and infrastructure in Tysons and Fairfax County, and what better way is there to strengthen and give back to the community than by supporting the arts, a universal language everyone can identify with.”
Previously affiliated with West Group--which was a longtime supporter of the McLean Symphony and a fundraised for the reconstruction of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center after it burned down in 1982—Cityline is continuing this tradition. Its arts-related support includes: providing “in-kind facility services” to the Traveling Players Ensemble and sponsoring Celebrate Fairfax, the McLean Orchestra and McLean Youth Orchestra.
Honorees were presented with individualized raku vessels created by artist Dale Marhanka, a Springfield resident who is director of ceramics at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.
Til Hazel, a noted attorney and Northern Virginia real-estate developer, who was the first to develop the Tysons area, memorialized his close friend, the late R. Dennis McArver, who like Hazel was a champion of the arts.
McArver, the council’s former board vice chair and governance chair, took over as chairman of the council’s board of directors on July 1, 2013. He passed away on Sept. 14.
McArver’s service to the arts also included chairing the board of Wolf Trap Associates and the Fairfax Symphony as well as serving as a board member of the Baltimore Symphony and the Arts at Mason Partnership.
The council, which will be moving its headquarters from Annandale to Merrifield, plans to dedicate its new board and conference room to McArver.
“I can remember when there was no arts council, no discussion of the arts [in Fairfax County],” Hazel said.
“Dennis understood vision, commitment and passion, all required to be a leader. While celebrating things today, we need to celebrate Dennis McArver.”