Katey Boerner, executive director of the Glen Echo Park Partnership, said the group hopes to raise a few thousand dollars at the event, hosted by Councilmember Roger Berliner and County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Montgomery County created the Partnership in 2002 as a nonprofit to operate a dance program, resident artists studios, two children’s theater companies, an environmental education program, an arts workshop program and the historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel on the Glen Echo Park grounds.
But when Congress couldn’t agree on a federal budget deal last fall, the National Park Service determined Glen Echo Park had to be closed.
The Partnership and Montgomery County fought that decision, but two weeks after the shutdown began the Glen Echo Park Partnership had already lost thousands in missed event revenue and space rental fees for weddings and other celebrations that had to be moved.
“People were very accommodating, but in the end, even if you push people to another show or another class, you lose two-and-a-half weeks,” Boerner said. “There were some hard things. If people are getting married, they’re getting married. If there’s a dance — and we had a big dance blues festival that had to go somewhere else — you can’t replace that.”
The event Friday, which will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., is free, though a $25 donation is suggested.
It will include door prizes, music, drinks (like the “Shutdown Sangria”) and is meant to be a celebration of Glen Echo Park’s cultural contribution to Montgomery County.
Boerner said the Partnership has raised about $18,000 in donations since the shutdown and hopes to raise about another $5,000 from Friday’s event.
The Pyramid Atlantic Art Center will help design a Glen Echo Park t-shirts for all guests. Boerner said after Berliner offered to host a fundraiser, Round House offered its lobby space for the event, since Glen Echo Park’s larger venues are unheated.
“Throughout this, there have been a number of arts organizations that have been so helpful and generous,” Boerner said.
She also said the Partnership has had discussions with the National Park Service about keeping Glen Echo open in case of a similar scenario.
“They’ve made the judgement that they have core functions at Glen Echo that they don’t have at other places, core staff that are integral to the park functioning,” Boerner said. “I think that in the future we would probably have some agreement for how to keep it open.”