Arts Desk

What’s Next for Lincoln Theatre?

In a press conference inside the Lincoln Theatre this afternoon, Mayor Vince Gray and D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities Executive Director Lionell Thomas elaborated—a little bit—on what the venue's future could look like once DCCAH officially takes over Jan. 1.

Gray says that $1 million will be committed to physical upgrades to the theater. After an initial three- to four-month renovation period, the venue will be prepared to roll out much-needed arts programming, though few present offered any meaty details. Thomas, along with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and D.C. Film Office head Crystal Palmer, were on hand to discuss potential film and Kennedy Center partnerships in fairly vague terms. But in a nutshell, they say future programming at Lincoln could include 1) more partnerships with Landmark Theatres, which has already brought a four-week run of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to Lincoln, 2) additional partnerships with movie chains AMC and Regal, 3) co-presentations with the Kennedy Center, 4) a second run of Arena Stage's Sophisticated Ladies (a hit there in 2010), 5) and a production by the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Most plans are still up in the air, and Thomas says the commission is in talks with arts groups about these and other ideas.

According to Thomas and Gray, programming at Lincoln will reflect the overall history and diversity of U Street NW. When a reporter from the Washington Afro-American asked pointedly whether the Lincoln was going to become yet another "white theater," Gray responded that it would be open to anyone who chooses to patronize it. The overarching goal, says Gray, is to create a "consistent arts identity"—something Lincoln has struggled to build in the years since it reopened to the public.

Running the theater, in total, will cost the city between $1.7 million and $2 million annually, Thomas says. Responding to a reporter's question, Gray said turning a profit would be nice, but right now, the priority is to simply pay the theater's bills.

Meanwhile, the search continues for a new board, staff, and an executive director to replace outgoing director Eilene Lifsey.

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

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  • madia

    Lincoln Theatre is a staple on U Street and I'm glad they're doing something to help it prosper. I just did a song called U Street that highlights Lincoln Theatre among other fun U Street locations.

    Howard Theatre is also being revived right?

  • Pingback: Saving D.C.’s Lincoln Theatre « Movie City News

  • monkeyrotica

    Ugh. God forbid DC gets "just another white theater" filled with white people spending their white dollars in DC. The Lincoln needs to serve the needs of the community, which it hasn't done in quite some time.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Wasn't there but would bet the Afro reporter was Valencia. Still out here in these streets.

  • Skipper

    Anyone else notice that Gray is taking a page from the same Fenty playbook he bashed by holding almost daily press events at different locations in the city to announce all the wonderful things he's doing?

    The more things change...

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  • 18Abdul

    The Lincoln was helping U Street businesses when The Arena Stage was doing productions there. In general, the programming is horrible. U Street deserves a world-class theatre. The place should be full every night.

    As far as Vince Gray is concerned, well... we deserve a world-class mayor too. I miss you Fenty - never thought I'd say that.