The art venue has often been the target of criticism due to a rocky first year in existence, which included low attendance and revenue. However, there’s been a concerted effort to turn things around by following a revamped business plan.
“We’ve had a really successful year and I think if people engage with the arts they understand the value of it. I would certainly encourage people to participate more to understand the value,” said Artisphere Executive Director Jose Ortiz. “Like any new organization or start-up, you go thorough some growing pains. I hope at this point we would have all moved past that.”
On the heels of accolades over this year’s Frida Kahlo exhibit, Drector of Programming Rosanna Ruscetti suddenly departed in April for family reasons. She had been credited with helping to stabilize the struggling art venue. Ruscetti was replaced in August by Josh Stoltzfus.
In addition to the new Director of Programming, Artisphere hired a Chief Financial Officer in April. Ortiz said the new staff is just one of the factors keeping the venue on track with its new goals.
“It’s definitely a team effort, everyone working together toward a common goal,” said Ortiz. “On the programming side we’re having great appeal. Having a CFO there has helped us to manage our money more closely as well.”
Ortiz said one of the challenges Artisphere continues to battle is how to offer art in a way that’s different from all the other local venues.
“In this business this idea that everyone’s presenting music and art, but how do we do that in a way that distinguishes us?” he said. “The ongoing challenge is always, how do we present a program that’s unique and on-brand and appeals to people?”
One example of the unique art, according to Ortiz, is Craig Colorusso’s roaming exhibit “Sun Boxes” which kicks off the anniversary celebration on Thursday, October 4. It is made up of 20 solar powered speakers that create a sonic landscape. The exhibit will be in different locations throughout Rosslyn this weekend; locations and times are listed online.
“It’s a great example of how we’re able to take our art outside of our walls,” Ortiz said. “People who may not come in to visit us will experience art on the street. It’s an example of how we do something and do it uniquely.”
The big events inside Artisphere take place this Saturday, October 6, and Sunday, October 7. The party begins at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday with Brazilian music from New York City’s Forro in the Dark, followed by the D.C. Metro’s own Alma Tropicalia at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.
The festivities culminate on Sunday with the Free Family Day Open House, which runs from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Activities are largely hands-on and allow visitors to interact with artists by participating in storytelling, theatrical workshops and creating a commemorative mural.
“It’s a great day for people to engage with the arts in a different way than you would customarily,” said Ortiz.