Save the Lubber Run Amphitheater
THE SITUATION: In 2008, the County scheduled 20 performances by professional and amateur artists at the Lubber Run Amphitheater. This was the last year of live performances at the amphitheater. In 2009, in spite of objections from the Arlington Forest Citizens Association (AFCA) and other groups, the County cut amphitheater performance funds from its budget citing a decline in business sponsorship and inconsistent attendance due to lack of marketing. The physical condition of the amphitheater was not mentioned as a factor in ending program support.
In late 2009, the PRCR notified AFCA that amphitheater programming money removed from the 2009 budget would be available in 2010. In January 2010, PRCR placed barriers around the amphitheater stage without notice. PRCR responded to inquiries by stating that the stage was not structurally safe. AFCA pressed for a full explanation and worked with PRCR to present a limited summer film series at the amphitheater that did not require use of the stage in July and August 2010.
In April 2010, the Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources commissioned an architectural study of the amphitheater to help County officials determine its future. The purpose of this feasibility study is to review at least three options and their associated costs relative to addressing the condition of the amphitheater. The three options are:
Option 1: Renovation of the amphitheater, not only addressing the current and immediate issues, but, improving upon the design and functionality of the amphitheater and site. This option could entail partial demolition and replacement of portions of the facility.
Option 2: Restoration of the current amphitheater to bring the facility up to a usable and functioning condition. This option may have several intermediate levels of restoration and cost as determined by the feasibility study. A minimal cost option should be one of those considered.
Option 3: Demolition of the amphitheater and restoration of the site to a natural-like condition.
Release of the study, originally set for August 2010, has been delayed by additional consideration of flood, environmental and access issues. The County Manager will release study results to the County Board after staff consideration; the Board will release the report to the public.
BACKGROUND Programming at the Lubber Run Amphitheater has highlighted summers in Arlington for more 40 years. The Lubber Run Amphitheater was dedicated on July 19, 1969 with an audience of 800 looking on as County Manager Bert Johnson presented the facility to County Board Chairman Dr. Kenneth Haggerty who accepted it in the name of all residents of Arlington County. The amphitheater's central Arlington location is easy to get to – directly on a bus line and less than one mile from the Ballston Metro. Parking is also available at the site. According to census data, 35,000 people live within one mile (walkable Arlington) and 246,000 people live within three miles (a low stress drive) of the amphitheater. The amphitheater is close to Culpepper Gardens senior housing, local elementary and middle schools and affordable housing. The amphitheater is located in a wooded parkland setting that brings its audience in contact with one of Arlington's few remaining natural preserves.
CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY Arlington has a remarkable opportunity to restore this unique facility as a model for popular, cost-effective community entertainment while promoting both the green and cultural goals espoused by the County. The Lubber Run Amphitheater Foundation, Inc., was incorporated in January 2011 with the purpose of engaging the Arlington County government, concerned groups and the public in discussions leading to a plan to preserve the Lubber Run Amphitheater as a permanent venue for the performing arts and a cultural resource for Arlington County residents and visitors from throughout northern Virginia and the Metro Washington area.
PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION to ask Arlington County to fully support repair, restoration and renewed programming for Lubber Run Amphitheater to preserve its unique role in the community.