Arts center would bring Levine to Loudoun
The center is envisioned as the principal venue for the Loudoun Symphony and the Loudoun Ballet, neither of which has a dedicated home. The symphony currently performs at Virginia Academy/Community Church on Route 7, just east of Leesburg. The ballet performs in auditoriums at Loudoun County high schools.
Levine Music, formerly the Levine School of Music and the lynchpin of the Loudoun project, is a nonprofit educational entity that has successfully raised funds for its facilities and programs in the D.C. metro area.
Regarded as one of the nation’s leading community music schools, Levine has campuses in D.C., Strathmore, Md. and Arlington, Va. with 3,700 students and an international faculty of 150 world-class musicians and educators.
Levine’s programs at THEARC in Southwest DC combine other cultural and educational organizations, including the Corcoran School of Art and Design. They provide free or subsidized instruction for diverse students of all ages and abilities. THEARC is one model for the programs that could be conducted at a Loudoun County campus.
Strathmore is the other model. The just-off-the-Beltway venue in Maryland hosts concerts, exhibitions, literary lectures and events. The performing arts component of the Loudoun project envisions a music hall and arts center similar to Strathmore, but one that's smaller and more flexible.
Levine is a resident partner in a Strathmore, a coalition that includes the National Philharmonic, the Washington Performing Arts Society and CityDance Center.
Levine has explored a facility in Loudoun County for several years, according Tina Bowie Dove, the director of Levine’s Arlington campus.
“There’s an enormous market expanding to the west (of the District) for students and programs,” she said.
Four hundred to 500 students participate in programs at Levine’s Arlington campus each week.
Levine plans to raise additional funds for the Loudoun project, Ms. Dove said, as well as leverage “synergies” with partners.
A private-public partnership would likely be formed to fund and build facilities, according to Bruce Gemmill, a senior vice president at John Marshall Bank in Leesburg who is orchestrating the project.
While Mr. Gemmill is affiliated with John Marshall Bank, the bank is not currently involved with the project.
Two sites along Route 7 are currently being considered for an arts complex with facilities occupying from 10,000 to 80,000 square feet, according to Mr. Gemmill.
The first is at One Loudoun, the focal point of new urbanism emerging on 358 acres at the south perimeter of Route 7 at Loudoun County Parkway. McLean-based Miller & Smith is developing what it calls “Loudoun’s new downtown” at the site – a pedestrian-friendly community of homes, shops, restaurants, offices, theater and a hotel.
One Loudoun is also the site of a proposed ballpark that would be home to a minor league baseball team and professional soccer team.
The other site is property adjacent to George Washington University’s Virginia Campus, just north of Route 7 near Ashburn. That property is owned by Clarke-Hoyt Real Estate of Chantilly.
Mr. Gemmill confirmed preliminary negotiations with Bill May, vice president of Miller & Smith, and with Clarke-Hook president Ed Zigo.
Much of the impetus for the project comes from Mr. Gemmill, who has been cultivating the project since a 2006 assignment with Leadership Loudoun. The Leesburg Town Council underwrote a $30,000 study in 2007 on the need for arts venues, including sites for the symphony and ballet.
Community leaders are presently considering the formation of a private-public partnership to fund and facilitate the project, which could be completed within two years.
Mr. Gemmill believes that developing a world-class center for the performing arts would be a boon for Loudoun’s economic development. But, he says, the real reward is enhancing the arts as a community asset.
“You see something good and you go after it,” he says.