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MORE: Kimberly Sikora
Waterford Public Relations, Inc.

Virginia Arts Leaders Gather at Schlesinger Center
Virginia Commission for the Arts Praises New Center

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (October 17, 2001) - Heralding the opening of the area's newest crown jewel for the performing arts, more than two dozen local arts organizations and members of the Northern Virginia Arts Alliance (NVAA) recently hosted the Virginia Commission for the Arts at the new Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

The Commission's Fall 2001 quarterly meeting provided an opportunity for Alliance members and Northern Virginia Community College to highlight the Schlesinger Center as the preeminent performing arts facility in Northern Virginia.

"It was wonderful to hold our meeting in this magnificent new facility, only days after its opening," said Peggy Baggett, executive director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. "I commend Dr. Belle Whelan and the board of the Northern Virginia Community College for their leadership in creating this important new performance facility for the community."

Leaders from the NVAA, which includes the arts commissions and councils from Alexandria City, as well as Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, praised the new performing arts venue, which has thrust Alexandria into the same circle as Washington, DC and New York City when it comes to quality theaters.

"It's an exiting time in Northern Virginia," said Annmarie Pittman, chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. "The Schlesinger Center will become a major arts magnet and is one more opportunity to spotlight Northern Virginia arts."

Local arts leaders and state legislators, including Senator Patsy Ticer, Delegate James Almond and Delegate Kenneth Plum, attended the meeting, which focused on funding for 2002-2004 and awarded individual artist fellowships.

The Virginia Commission for the Arts is the state agency charged with promoting the arts throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Commission annually awards $5 million in grants to various arts organizations and individual artists throughout Virginia with funds from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Schlesinger Center, with the breathtaking 1,000-seat Mary Collier Baker Theater, beautiful glass-enclosed Wachovia Forum, intimate Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery and Internet-ready seminar rooms, is already being touted as the premier performing arts venue on this side of the Potomac.

The Center is named for the late wife of Dr. James R. Schlesinger, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy. Mrs. Schlesinger was a violinist and board member of the Arlington Symphony until her death in 1995. Dr. Schlesinger donated $1 Million to name the Center in his wife's memory. Dozens of local corporations, foundations and individual donors also generously contributed to the Center, allowing the college to build a first-rate facility that audiences in this area have come to expect.

The Schlesinger Center will be dedicated on October 19, 2001 during a ceremony that will include local dignitaries, members of the Schlesinger family and supporters of the arts throughout Northern Virginia. For more information on the Schlesinger Center, please contact Leslie White, Managing Director, at lwhite@nvcc.edu or 703-845-6156.

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