Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission announces Merriweather Movie Nights

As it has for nearly 50 years, Merriweather Post Pavilion will be home to this summer’s hottest concerts. And for the first time, it will also be home to a series of classic summer movies!

The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission today announced its first season of Merriweather Movie Nights. Utilizing the amphitheater’s high-definition video screens and featuring food and beverage choices from Manor Hill Brewing and Tavern, Merriweather Movie Nights will offer guests an outdoor movie experience unlike any other. 

“We are excited to open Merriweather to our community for these music-themed movie nights, which are sure to offer something for everyone,” said Ian Kennedy, Executive Director of the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission (DCACC). “As the owners of this cherished amphitheater, we are excited to introduce new community-focused programming at Merriweather, and these movie nights are just the beginning.”

Like summer itself, the series kicks off on Memorial Day Weekend with the classic musical Grease on Saturday, May 27th, and follows thereafter with The Last Waltz in June, Moana in July, and School of Rock in August. Guests will have the choice of free, general admission seating under the stars on the lawn or within certain sections of the pavilion, or for $10, they can purchase a reserved pavilion seat in a prime viewing area with access to the venue’s new party deck. Tickets, free or paid, are required for attendees and can be obtained starting Friday, April 28 at 10 a.m. at www.merriweathermusic.com/community-events/ or www.dcacc.info/mppmovies

But it’s not just the venue that will make this series special. Manor Hill Brewing and Tavern will be on-hand each night with a diverse selection of locally-crafted food and beer available for purchase. 

“People have come to expect great things from Manor Hill and Merriweather, so the pairing is a natural fit,” said Randy Marriner of Manor Hill Brewing and Tavern. “We can’t wait to help redefine the “dinner and a movie” experience in Howard County this summer.”

In addition to Manor Hill, the Merriweather Movie Nights are possible because of the generous support of its sponsors—Costello Construction of Maryland, Howard Bank, the Columbia Association, the Howard County Economic Development Authority, and the Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate.

“We want to be able to offer programming at Merriweather that is open and accessible to everyone at low or no-cost to residents, and that’s only possible because of the great community partners who have offered to support these movie nights,” said Kennedy.

The schedule of movies, including times and links to more information, is:

Saturday, May 27, Grease:  Join Sandy, Danny, and the rest of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds for this classic movie musical of summer romances, school days at Rydell High School, and everything in between. Singing and dancing encouraged. Doors 5:30 pm; showtime 7:30 pm. Tickets and information.

Wednesday, June 28, The Last Waltz: "This film should be played loud!" Thus begins Martin Scorsese’s seminal documentary about the star-studded final performance of The Band. With songs that changed rock-and-roll forever and cinematography that did the same for movie, The Last Waltz maintains its perch as the defining rock documentary even today, forty years after its release. Doors 5:30 pm; showtime 7:30 pm. Tickets and information.

 Wednesday, July 26, Moana: Follow Moana on her action-packed voyage across the sea as she tries to save her village and fulfill the quest of her ancestors. With songs from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Moana is an all-ages crowd pleaser not to be missed.  Doors 5:30 pm; showtime 7:30 pm. Tickets and information.

Wednesday, August 30, School of Rock: School’s almost back in session, so what better way to cap-off summer than with this film about a down-on-his-luck musician who teaches a group of prep school students about the ways of rock-and-roll. Full of laughs and classic rock songs, School of Rock is great fun for fans of music and comedy. Doors 5:30 pm; showtime 7:30 pm. Tickets and information.

information about Merriweather Movie Nights is available at www.dcacc.info/mppmovies or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/columbiamdarts

Merriweather Post Pavilion Ownership Transferred to DCACC

On December 1, 2016 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission accepted a ceremonial key to this venue signifying that the transfer of ownership from the Howard Hughes Corporation to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission is complete. 

The Downtown Columbia Plan of 2010 envisioned our organization as a key supporter of expanded artistic, cultural, civic, and educational programming at Merriweather and throughout Downtown. The Commission’s ownership of this venue unlocks that potential.

Next year, Columbia and Merriweather will celebrate their 50th birthdays, and we look forward to playing a supporting role in these community-wide celebrations. 

Those celebrations, like Wednesday's, are times for reaffirming our commitment to the principles that Columbia aspires to and the partnerships that bring them to life. 

We are ready to celebrate, and we are also ready to begin work on Columbia’s next chapter and ensure this city and its residents continue to thrive for decades to come.

DCACC Testimony Supporting TIF

Below is the testimony delivered by DCACC Vice Chair Joanne Davis at a Howard County Council hearing on July 14, 2016 in support of tax increment financing legislation that would fund a publicly owned parking garage to support Merriweather Post Pavilion, as well as the broader redevelopment of Downtown Columbia. 

I am testifying tonight in support Council Resolution 105-2016 and Council Bill 56-2016, the Tax Increment Financing (“TIF”) legislation.  This, the TIF, is a well-established, if not well understood, method for financing public improvements.  It is the piece of the very complex downtown plan that is needed in order to build a public parking garage to provide parking for Merriweather Post Pavilion.

As was stated in the Downtown Columbia Plan that was passed by you back in 2010:

This Plan calls for the formation of a Downtown Arts and Culture Commission, an independent non-profit organization, to oversee the planning, coordination and implementation of artistic and cultural activities, opportunities, events and works displayed in Downtown.

Based on this charge from you that is contained within the Downtown General Plan, the following mission statement was adopted:

The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission's mission is to promote artistic and cultural activities in Columbia, Maryland and to ensure that the amphitheater at the heart of this community, Merriweather Post Pavilion, continues to thrive as a world-renowned home to performing arts. 

So, you know where I am coming from.  You created the Commission.  And now we are here to start making an arts and culture district in downtown Columbia a reality!

Imagine.  Imagine all the people…  Imagine the people in a downtown that is a center of arts and culture. And then look at the plans.  SMILE!  50 years after its birth, Columbia is implementing a real plan to create the downtown imagined by the original planners.  Work places, housing, restaurants and retail all are to be expanded – and that is and will be wonderful. 

However, for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, best of all is the realization of this downtown filled with art and culture. 

The TIF is the piece of legislation that, once passed by the County Council, will provide for both (i) the accelerated construction of needed infrastructure downtown and (ii) help facilitate the transfer of the ownership of Merriweather from Howard Hughes to the DCACC by ensuring a permanent parking solution for the venue.   Thereafter, some of the net income from Merriweather will help subsidize and energize many artistic and cultural events in Downtown Columbia.  The Commission intends to support the full panorama of artistic and cultural endeavors.

In other words, providing the necessary infrastructure to build and serve the arts and cultural district of Columbia is critical to the mission of the Commission and to an integral part of the Downtown Columbia General Plan.

Merriweather was named the second best amphitheater in the United States by Billboard magazine in 2010, the fourth best in the United States by Rolling Stone in 2013.  Check out the modern source for all knowledge, Wikipedia, for the amazing history.  With the upgrades completed this year and planned for next year, Merriweather would likely be rated the first best! As Council members, you’ve had a guided tour.  This venue that is so well regarded can be used for more than the rock concerts.  It can be used and enjoyed by people of all artistic tastes and preference.  And, best of all, its popularity will bring financial resources and artistic inspiration to support a broad spectrum of arts and cultural events.

We have built it. They do come.  But, there must be a place to park, not only for Merriweather concertgoers, but also for all those who will come to enjoy what is our new and wonderful Downtown Columbia.  There are no subway stops, no buses that can accommodate the 90% of concert attendees who travel from outside Howard County to this gem of a landmark here in our home.  The TIF will provide the funds to build the garage, 2500 parking spaces.  Drive into the garage, park once, and then gather and engage in so much more that is offered downtown.

But for the TIF, the lack of a parking garage and other infrastructure enhancements would diminish Merriweather’s future viability;

But for the TIF, the possibility of creating a destination arts and cultural district in downtown Columbia would be significantly decreased; and

But for the TIF, the vision of a downtown infused with or visual and performing arts will be greatly diminished.

In other words, but for what the funds derived from the TIF can do, our community will lose the richness of an arts and culture district.

The DCACC enthusiastically encourages you to pass this legislation!