News & Politics

Artomatic 2024 Is on Hold—for Now

The recently opened art festival is now experiencing permitting headaches.

Photograph courtesy of Artomatic.

UPDATE: Artomatic will reopen tonight, March 16th, at 6 p.m., and will resume regular hours this weekend.

Artomatic, the popular interactive art festival, hadn’t even been open a week when it announced yesterday that it will be closed until further notice, due to permitting issues.

The seven-week event had returned to the District for the first time in 15 years (it had popped up in Maryland and Virginia during that time). Taking up residency in a former office building in Foggy Bottom (2100 M St., NW), the temporary, free-to-enter gallery featured eight floors of art, and had planned daily workshops, seminars, and musical performances. According to Patrick Oberman, who is spearheading Artomatic DC, the location of its last festival in the city—back in 2009—was simple to obtain permitting for, but this new location came with unexpected issues.

Oberman and his team initially obtained a Certificate of Occupancy, which they believed was sufficient. About a week ago, DC’s Department of Buildings informed them that, if they wanted to use the space for a seven week stretch, they’d instead need a Building Permit. 

Ahead of its opening day event on Friday, which featured a speech from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city gave the event a temporary Certificate of Occupancy. But that expired on Sunday. In order to reopen, Artomatic will need an official Plan of Egress signed by an architect. According to Oberman that is in the works, and he hopes to get the paperwork completed by Friday night. 

“Basically, our event needed to go through a bureaucracy that’s not designed to handle this type of unique situation,” said Oberman. “There are a lot of events in the city that just go under the radar while using empty spaces, but this is kind of exceptional.”

Omega Ilijevich
Editorial Fellow