Best Arts-Funding Argument

“We’ll leave.”
Unrisky seasons, reduced educational programming, and higher ticket prices are all things worth fearing when arts funding dries up. But the unhappy specter of these things did little to liven up a recent D.C. Council oversight hearing on the city’s cash-strapped Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Heads didn’t perk up until it was Capital Fringe Executive Director Julianne Brienza’s turn to speak. Brienza dropped some hard truth: Municipal and foundation grants have become so scarce in D.C., she said, that the annual festival was considering relocating half of its activities to Maryland to take advantage of government funding there. In an interview later that day, Brienza more or less admitted she was going for dramatic effect: In the long term, Fringe could conceivably look to D.C.’s neighbors, but in the short it needs to figure out where in D.C. it’ll go after losing its current rough-hewn campus in Mount Vernon Square. (Brienza’s guess is that’ll be after next summer.) The most likely candidates are NoMA and Southwest Waterfront, Brienza said. Then again, Silver Spring already boasts D.C.’s best film festival. Why not its liveliest theater event, as well?