On July 11, a watershed moment occurred that will help define the arts in Fairfax County through a living document over the next two decades or so. It will ensure geographic diversity and critical access to the arts.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to accept the Fairfax County Master Arts Plan: Facilities.
The County Arts Committee will use the tool to support the Board of Supervisors and county staff. According to board meeting materials, the plan connects the aspirations of the County's Comprehensive Plan Policy, the goals and objectives of the Countywide Strategic Plan and One Fairfax, and the practical opportunities that present themselves over the next 20 years of development in Fairfax County.
The plan is not a policy to be adopted, implemented in the near term, or set in stone.
"I want to thank the community members, ArtsFairfax, and County staff who dedicated so much time and effort to developing the County’s first Master Arts Plan. This provides a blueprint for Fairfax County to continue to grow our creative ecosystem and create attractive spaces for all to enjoy." Chairman Jeff McKay (D) said before the meeting.
The plan was achieved through collaborative efforts of the 2009–2023 Master Arts Plan Task Force, Fairfax County Senior Management Team 2023, and the Geographic Information Team and others. These groups paved the way for a deliberately equitable path for the siting of arts facilities throughout the county.
Are there performing and visual arts opportunities in all nine Fairfax County districts? Yes. Districts are approximately equal in population, yet Sully has 4 percent of the total, and Braddock and Hunter Mill each have 18 percent of the total.
In 2010, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the Visual and Performing Arts Comprehensive Plan Policy Amendment. The 2017 Edition of the Policy Plan - Visual and Performing Arts identified objectives and related policy goals for arts venues.
In May 2019, key results from the consultant team at AMS Planning & Research Corporation provided expertise on how to move toward developing new venues for arts audiences and content providers.
The team unveiled a series of ten noteworthy observations. These observations shed light on various areas of concern, including gaps in information, gaps within the arts sector, and venue gaps.
Elected officials may need more information on the positive impact of arts and culture. Arts attendees need more information on where and how to find arts activities in the County. A significant portion of county residents felt underserved as the quality, quantity and diversity of arts and cultural events were not what they expected. Gaps exist within the art sectors. While certain organizations have extensive programming, can promote their work and have the financial means to develop and manage facilities, most arts content creators and providers in the county operate under constrained resources and limited budgets.
Supervisor Dan Storck (D-Mount Vernon) thanked the task force for the "hundreds of thousands of hours" that had gone into the Master Arts Plan.
Supervisor Walter Alcorn looked to the future, saying, "As we get this plan in place, now we get to think about implementation and financing different projects ... some commitment at the board level to make these things happen in order to get there."
Fairfax County Arts Committee Chair Leila Gordon said that all human beings are creative. It is the most universally shared attribute.
"In every era, culture, language, geography, or historical context, the arts tell our individual and collective stories ... Being able to convey the complexity of our humanity through vibrant and lasting artistic expression requires commitment on the part of communities, both to fostering artistic curiosity and to providing hospitable settings for the expression of creativity," Gordon said.