Arts Desk

Search for Lincoln Theatre Operator Officially Begins

A week after Mayor Vince Gray dropped the news that the District would seek a new operator for the Lincoln Theatre, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has released a request for proposals.

The RFP spells out what the District would expect from the operator: In exchange for an annual license fee, the operator will be entitled to any revenue. But if the theater falls on hard times—as it very well may—the city is willing to adjust the license fee from year to year.

The city isn't bending on its dedication to upholding the theater's historic identity, which is good news for residents who don't want the place turned into a tacky Times Square Lite type of deal. The RFP says: "The successful offeror...will occupy and have responsibility for all operational aspects of the Lincoln Theatre while upholding the theatre’s history and legacy." Still, "upholding the theatre's history and legacy" seems a little open to interpretation.

Seeing how it owns the place, the D.C. government will reserve the right to use the venue for its own events. It'll get 15 days per year to book "community event days." (Compare that to the city-owned Howard Theatre, where the District gets 12 days to use the venue.) The RFP also indicates a hiring preference for D.C. residents, and makes clear that it prefers operators who "provide benefits to the community."

Proposals are due Sept. 21. Read the complete RFP here.

From the press release sent this morning:

Today, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the operation of the historic Lincoln Theatre.

With the RFP, the DCCAH is seeking an operator to manage all aspects of the historic U Street Theatre—from staffing, management, booking and marketing. The Arts Commission will hire a commercial operator for the theater before the end of this calendar year.

"A vibrant U Street corridor deserves a vibrant Lincoln Theatre," said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. "I look forward to seeing the Lincoln reborn as another lively venue for our city's ever-growing arts scene."

"When the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities obtained oversight of the theater in January, our goal was to develop a sustainable business model for the theater," said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. "After months of research, we've come to the conclusion that in the best interest of the theatre today, a commercial model must be developed."

Over the last 8 months, the theater has functioned as a mixed-use venue, much like it did in its early years—hosting a film, comedy shows, concerts and other performance events. Under the direction of a new operator, the city would like the Lincoln to continue in this direction.

The RFP is being administered by the Department of General Services.

Photo by Flickr user Steve Snodgrass used under a creative commons license.

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  • seeseehpounder

    Somebody should tell that guy from Riot Act

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