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While I usually enjoy Bob Mondello’s writing, his heavy reliance on quantity to support his positive assertions regarding Arlington County’s arts program seemed a little weak (“Double Bill,” 7/18). Mondello seems to be pitching the line that more performances is better cultural programming. But the number1,300of performances last year in Arlington doesn’t mean much if the performances aren’t very good. What about quality? Of course Arlington needs community theater, but are we supposed to feel pleased for the cultural landscape that Dominion Stage now has a home at Gunston Arts Center? It’s nice, but no big deal culturally.
As for Arlington’s professional theaters receiving Arts Incubator support, well, few would dispute that the Washington Shakespeare Theatre has gone downhill from the days of Jason Adams and Brian Desmond. Few of its current actors ever performed professionally, and the company itself has been criticized for reincorporating in Hyattsville and Arlington in its search for grant $. And it’s difficult to get excited about Horizons, a company that has consistently shot itself in the foot. Does this group really need yet another lease on life? Teatro de la Luna and American Century Theatre are semipro at best. The only real success to come out of John Palmer Claridge’s “hand-picked” theater companies is Signature. And Signature’s success seems mainly a product of Eric Schaffer’s organizational and fund-raising skills.
The Arts Incubator is a good idea, but the result could be better cultural programming instead of just more cultural programming if those in charge made better choices. I wish Bob Mondello had written about that.