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Get Cultured

Lorton Workhouse Arts Center offers arts and entertainment for the whole family throughout the summer.

Looking for some more culture in your life? Are your children promising artists that just need some direction, or are you simply searching for a fun yet enriching weekend activity for the entire family? If so, all of your needs can be fulfilled in one stop.

The Lorton Workhouse Arts Center, located at 9601 Ox Road, provides not only a creative outlet for artists and performers of all ages but a physical space for the community to gather to enjoy live entertainment, good food and even better company throughout the year. This summer, however, promises to be perhaps the most exciting time Workhouse officials can remember, as a new slate of activities will be offered.

"Our goal [this summer] is to have community events to have people get out to the Workhouse and see what we’re all about," said Caren Hearne, the Workhouse’s theater director. "We’ve got art, music, food and more. We’re really integrating everything."

The Workhouse, situated on 55 acres of land in the former D.C. Workhouse and Reformatory, has visual and performing arts studio and exhibition space, cooperative studios, performance and theater venues, dedicated gallery space, and event facilities. The Workhouse also has the Workhouse Arts Guild, in which local artists use studio space to create pieces using all media and then get the opportunity to showcase their work in one of the Workhouse’s galleries. These amenities, however perfect for a professional artist, leave something to be desired by the typical visitor.

So, in response, the Workhouse has created a slate of summer events, many of which are free, that offer something for every member of the family. The summer’s highlight event, the Patriotic Picnic, is slated for Saturday, July 3, and according to Workhouse spokesman Camela Speer, will provide the template for a series of events to follow later in the summer. The picnic’s main draw will be the three live musical performances from Thrive, New Dominion Choraliers and the Rebel Red Dixie Band, but other activities will be offered throughout the day. Event planner Courtney Arzu said that each of the Workhouse’s studios will have an artist demonstration and the KidsZone will also be open for children to create and take home a piece of art.

"It’s a free event, and there’s something for everyone," Arzu said. "It’s a fun, Patriotic

family escape into arts and entertainment."

The Workhouse Ice Cream Social will return for its second year on July 10, but this time, attendees will be able to take a souvenir with them besides a brain freeze. This year, for $15, guests can purchase a bowl made by one of the Workhouse’s ceramics artists and use it to eat all the ice cream they want. Other events include the Centennial Celebration slated for Saturday, Sept. 4, which marks the 100th anniversary of the reformatory’s opening, and the Workhouse’s Second Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 11. Both of these events will be structured like the Patriotic Picnic, complete with music, food, an open house and artist demonstrations.

"We try to keep our events free and open so that we can get people to come out with their families and enjoy the day," Speer said. "We’re very excited about all the things we have going on this summer."