Grant Recipient

McLean Project for the Arts – Connecting Art and Communities

Area residents explore artist's stalls at the 2010 MPA artfest in McLean, Va.

About McLean Project for the Arts

At McLean Project for the Arts (MPA), art is a community asset – something community members can learn about, appreciate and practice.

Founded in 1962, MPA is one of the oldest nonprofit visual arts centers in Northern Virginia. The organization's mission is to exhibit the work of artists from the Mid-Atlantic region, provide education and instruction in visual arts and educate the community on the concepts of contemporary arts.

"We are the only visual arts center in the region that combines such a comprehensive program of exhibitions along with an equally comprehensive program of educational offerings," said Nancy Perry, executive director of MPA.

MPA provides classes and workshops for children and adults. In addition, MPA runs ArtReach, a program that sends professional artist educators into schools and brings students to the galleries for interactive tours. The tours are linked to standards of learning in Virginia's curriculum.

MPA offers evening adult programs such as Art Appetizers, Gals in the Gallery and Cocktails and Creating in addition to classes.

Perry believes it is important to bring the arts to the community in a local setting.

"We have amazing art museums in D.C. but not everyone can access those museums," Perry said. "Because we are a smaller gallery we can provide an intimate, hands-on experience that the larger museums can't provide."

In addition to providing classes and workshops for the community, MPA also provides opportunities for artists to exhibit their work. MPA boasts three galleries and hosts around 17 exhibitions per year.

"There aren't many spaces for artists to exhibit – museums and commercial galleries are hard to get into," Perry said.

As a nonprofit visual arts center, MPA seeks out artists to show their work but doesn't represent artists. MPA's main gallery – the Emerson Gallery – is one of the best places in the Mid-Atlantic region for artists to exhibit, Perry said. MPA also has two smaller galleries for emerging artists.

MPA helps to build a sense of community in McLean and Northern Virginia.

"We are a gathering place and in this day and age in a suburban community it's hard to build that sense of community," Perry said. "We really bring the community together."

One of the ways MPA brings the community together is MPAartfest, an annual art festival attended by thousands of people each year.

MPAartfest is McLean's first visual and performing arts festival. The event features the work of local artists, a children's ArtTent offering art projects for children, a children's ArtWalk exhibition featuring art work from local elementary school students, an Open Studio demonstration for attendees to participate in drawing a live model, as well as performances from local school groups and bands.

495 Express Lanes Community Grant Support

Like many nonprofit organizations, fundraising for MPA is down due to the economy. As a result, community support is more important than ever. MPA recently received a grant from Transurban-Fluor to help with exhibitions and educational programs.

"The grant from Transurban-Fluor is extremely important to help us pay for our programs," Perry said.

Transurban-Fluor supports MPA because the organization brings the community together and offers educational opportunities not found elsewhere.

"Transurban-Fluor believes in supporting and building communities," said Tim Steinhilber, general manager of the 495 Express Lanes Project. "McLean Project for the Arts brings the community together with enriching opportunities and exhibits for children and adults. We are proud to support an organization that offers such unique programs to build community."

More Information

MPA has a small professional staff that strongly believes in its mission. Volunteers and community support are critical to MPA. Perry said the organization is always looking for volunteers for everything from MPAartfest support to strategic planning and management consulting.

For more information about MPA, visit