Alternative Options Sought for Herndon Arts Center Operation

Alternative Options Sought for Herndon Arts Center Operation

Consultant recommends Town move forward with neither submitted proposal accepted.

Late last week the Town of Herndon contacted Arts Herndon and NextStop Theatre in response to their submitted Request for Proposals (RFP) to operate, manage, and conduct arts programming in Herndon's future Arts Center. RFPs were due Monday, May 15, 2017. The two organizations were the only proposers.

According to a general description of the RFP, proposals for the procurement should have been concerned primarily with the proposer’s capabilities and qualifications for a project of this nature, strategies for implementation, and demonstration of a thorough understanding of the Town’s needs, requirements and vision as they relate to the Arts Center.

According to Anne Papa Curtis, chief communications officer Town of Herndon, "As part of its RFP evaluation process, the town engaged the services of an arts consulting firm to provide analysis of the two proposals and to make recommendations to the RFP Evaluation Committee. The consultant’s report concluded with a recommendation that the town move forward with neither of the responding proposals. Accordingly, both organizations were notified and the RFP process is completed. The town is currently considering alternative options for operation of the future Arts Center in a manner that celebrates Herndon’s artistic community while maximizing taxpayer investment, and will be appropriately engaging the public in the process as it develops."

IN THE TOWN’S OVERVIEW of the “Request for Proposal for Herndon Arts Center,” the RFP stated, "The Town of Herndon, Virginia ("Town"), through this Request for Proposals ("RFP), hereby solicits submission of proposal from art organizations to operate, manage, and conduct arts programming in Herndon's future Arts Center...The successful Proposer shall do the following: Be an economic driver and demonstrate community leadership; Provide the community with a first-class arts facility with programs that showcase various types of visual, cultural and performing arts, including dance, music and theatre; Encourage cultural and intellectual activities for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens; Foster the growth of community arts groups; Provide arts related education and programming opportunities through collaborative efforts; and Develop the arts center into a valuable civic resource that stimulates a culture of philanthropy, creative discourse, education and opportunities for cultural awareness and expression.

The desired outcome is a long-term lease with one or more successful Proposers."

While Michael L. O’Reilly, president of the Board of Arts Herndon, expressed disappointment in last week’s notification by the Town, he said that the nonprofit arts organization will continue to work with the Town as well as provide programs.

O'Reilly explained in his statement, "I received notification from the town late last week and immediately notified our Board. We are disappointed but not surprised that what we felt was a flawed RFP has concluded with no positive results. Arts Herndon will continue to work in good faith with the Town and all of our supporters to provide the types of vibrant and innovative programs and events that help make Herndon the great community that it is."

THE OTHER arts organization that submitted a Request for Proposal is NextStop Theatre Company, a professional theatre company established in 1988, under the name The Elden Street Players, as one of the very few municipal experimental theatres in the United States. NextStop Theatre Company’s website describes their organization as receiving critical praise and national attention in their first two (professional) seasons for showcasing a wide array of local talent, Broadway headliners, education programs for children and adults including classes and workshops, and locally-driven arts relevant to the community.

Evan Hoffmann, producing artistic director of NextStop Theatre Company, responded to the Town's notification with the statement: "During our extensive history as the sole year-round venue dedicated to the performing arts within the Town of Herndon, NextStop has built a strong relationship with the Town and its residents, and we were glad to participate in the RFP process. While we continue discussions with the Town about bringing our award-winning programming to a revitalized Downtown Herndon, we're busy preparing for our 30th anniversary season in our existing independently owned-and-operated space."