Art + Development = More

Back in February and March, I touched on the battle over Source Theater’s future, and the future of arts development in my rapidly revitalizing ‘hood. Now it appears that the outcry of locals and the theater community over the possibility of a billiards bar in that spot has borne real fruit. As detailed by the Post today, the building will be bought by the Cultural Development Organization (CuDC) for development into a performing arts space.

Being the skeptic that I am, I was a little surprised that art won over pool cues, and more than a little, ah, skeptical over the potential for success, especially given the legacy of debts and accusations of mismanagement that have dogged the Source, a once successful and nationally known small theater that was the proving ground for several Washington theater professionals.

But it’s still an exciting idea to me, adding an arts venue to one of the more interesting blocks in town. As I’ve said before, I want it all for my 14th Street – shops, bars, restaurants, art galleries, theaters, concert halls – more more
more! One only has to look at Studio’s impact on Logan Circle’s revitalization to see what a successful “art fuels development” plan can do.

I’m also buoyed by the news that CuDC is behind the deal, buying the building and creating a performing arts venue. Considering their impressive list of accomplishments – Tivoli, Atlas, Mather, to name just a few – they certainly seem the most likely to effectively transform the sad black hole that Source became over the past years. A key factor is their providing operations management separate from artistic production, which may save the new space from the old company’s fate.

Theaterboy has posted CuDC’s summary of the plan, and it does look promising. Their aim is to renovate the building into a performing arts venue that will accommodate both resident companies and external small- to medium- sized arts groups with space for offices, rehearsals, and performances. As affordable rehearsal and performance space continues to be a concern and a need in DC for performing arts, this is good news. It also mentions reviving the much-loved Washington Theater Festival, though we’ll have to see how this will co-exist with the continuation of the Fringe Festival.

With this news following the Fringe’s ending on a successful note, I’m feeling confident about DC’s future as a viable arts destination and thriving cultural scene. CuDC aims for a Summer 2007 opening. I’ll watch the renovations with great interest.

3 Comments so far

  1. Lauren (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

    I’m moving to the area and would like to know where and when I can take in a good gallery crawl. Any suggestions?

  2. Jenn L (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 11:30 pm

    Welcome to DC, Lauren!

    The most established gallery district is around Dupont Circle. There’s a gallery crawl or open houses on the first Friday of the month from 6pm to 8pm – plenty of options to wander around. has info and maps.

    An up-and-coming area is the so-called 14th Street Arts District – with Fusebox and Hemphill around 14th and P near Studio, also U Street like Plan B and Project 4. Not as many as Dupont but definitely the area to watch. has a good listing. There’s a movement to make the third Thursday of the month a crawl – we’ll see if that takes off.

    I hope you enjoy living here – it’s a great city!

  3. Lauren (unregistered) on August 10th, 2006 @ 3:19 pm


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