Theater consortium bids to be new manager of county’s black box theater in Silver Spring -- Gazette.Net







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Montgomery County expects to have new management in place for its black box theater by June and a consortium of four theater companies is positioning itself to be the agency in charge.

Members of the Black Box Silver Spring Consortium went to the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and the Urban District Advisory committee public meetings on Oct. 14 and Oct. 17 to share their operational plans, ask for members’ support, and answer questions about their proposal for the black box theater, located near the AFI Silver Theatre on Colesville Road.

Since Round House Theatre announced on June 27 its decision to no longer manage the theater, the consortium, which includes four local theater companies— Lumina Studio Theatre, ArtStream, Live Garra Theater and Forum Theater — has asked for community support to talk about the venue’s future.

“Our goal is to make a very lively and interactive space,” said David Minton, executive director of Lumina Studio Theater.

During the meetings, Minton explained that rental and utility costs would be taken care of by the county and the consortium proposes to pay for insurance, telephone, and Internet expenses. He also added that if the consortium is awarded the contract, the group will name a board of directors and hire a facility manager.

Montgomery County owns the space, which has been managed by Round House since entering into a 10-year agreement with the county in 2004. The theater is a 50 feet by 60 feet venue for an audience of 130 people.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) asked the consortium to present a final business plan by December, and according to a statement, the county’s Arts and Humanities Council will be working with all parties to work out options that are “responsive to community needs and financially sustainable.”

On Oct. 1, Montgomery County officials also wrote a memorandum to Leggett outlining a schedule to meet the requirements of the property disposition law, meaning that before a property is transferred from one user to another, even if it remains county-owned, it needs to go through a process to allow the county council to approve the new management.

The letter stated that the county would have to follow an aggressive schedule to have new theatre management in place by June 2014.

“It is not like we don’t understand the space. Lumina has been there since 2005, and we know the space very well,” said Minton, adding he is fairly optimistic that the consortium will be the group managing the space.

Members of both Silver Spring boards agreed to send a letter expressing their support for the agreement between the consortium and the county.

“The county has been working with the various theater groups and we are encouraging them to finalize an agreement for light to stay on at the black box theater,” Evan Glass, chairman of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.

Round House Theatre’s lease expires in June 30, 2014.