After the Leesburg Town Council declined on Tuesday night to fund Loudoun Symphony Orchestra’s 1812 Bicentennial Concert, organizers are appealing to Visit Loudoun and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors for aid.
“We are going to make this happen one way or another,” said Ara Bagdasarian, President of the Loudoun Symphony Board of Directors. However, he said the town council’s decision not to fund the event is a “disappointment” that could limit the event’s scope.
The vote failed 4-3, with Mayor Kristen Umstattd, Vice Mayor Kevin Wright and Council Members Tom Dunn and Katie Hammler opposing the funding. Council Members David Butler, Marty Martinez and Kelly Burk supported the funding.
Opposing council members balked at using $5,000 of undesignated funds to fulfill the symphony’s request.
Wright said that the town “missed a step” in not planning its own commemoration of the 1812 bicentennial. At the same time, he noted that another organization’s request for $5,000 was already slated to be discussed next meeting: “I worry about the precedent that sets.”
“We have many, many really good nonprofits like Interfaith Relief who come to us for money, and we don’t generally provide non-profit support,” Umstattd said.
Bagdasarian emphasized that the funding would not go to the symphony, but to the event, which he hoped would be the largest commemorative event in Northern Virginia and would also bring tourists to historic Leesburg.
After the British burned the U.S. Capitol during the War of 1812, Leesburg briefly served as the nation’s capital.
Bagdasarian painted a bright vision of his hopes for the September event: fifes and drums welcoming thousands of people to the historic grounds of Morven Park, a choral group singing patriotic music and historians from partner organization Journey Through Hallowed Ground telling Leesburg’s unique 1812 story in between symphony performances.
He hoped the event would attract families to sit on the grass and enjoy music, food and drinks.
Bagdasarian noted that the symphony has never before asked the town of Leesburg for financial support. The symphony is trying to raise a total of $30,000 from public and private sponsors to cover event production costs.
Visit Loudoun and the Board of Supervisors both have yet to decide whether to provide funds.
Right now, it all depends on how much money the symphony and Journey Through Hallowed Ground can raise.
“This could be as small as a concert in the rose garden, to a spectacular celebration of the war and Leesburg’s place in the war,” Bagdasarian said.
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