In 2010, 25,000 people attended performances at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. In 2011, the complex on H St. NE attracted 33,000.
Its steady growth reflects the escalating popularity of its surrounding community, where dining, nightlife and home renovations are creating a new energy, and also the Atlas’s new formula for booking acts.
Sam Sweet, the Atlas’s executive director, says that momentum is a blessing and challenge. For the 2012-2013 season, which Sweet announced Tuesday, the Atlas added more performances, beginning with a full season of New Music. The emphasis, through designated curators, is also on jazz and Theatre for the Very Young. In the 2011-2012 season, performances increased by 50 percent.
“Atlas is on H Street so we still have to work harder to get an audience over here. We want to make a name for ourselves as nurturing our resident groups but also attracting exciting adventurous artists,” Sweet said.
One way of solidifying the programming was to create artistic panels in 2011 for different disciplines. Brad Linde is in charge of jazz, Armando Bayolo the New Music bookings and Mary Hall Surface the Theatre for the Very Young.
Atlas also added two resident arts partners, the Rorschach Theatre, which started performances last September, and Great Noise Ensemble, which started concerts last week.
In addition to the Great Noise Ensemble, playing Oct. 19 and April 5, the New Music programs include the Prism Saxophone Quartet on Oct. 12; Newspeak on Nov. 2; Cornelius Dufallo on Jan. 12 and Roomful of Teeth on March 18.
(Watch a video of Cornelius Dufallo below)
The jazz programs include Steve Coleman Quartet on Sept. 26; Grammy Award winner Gary Smulyan on Oct. 10; Ben Williams, who won the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition on Oct. 17; Rebecca Martin with Larry Grenadier on Nov. 7. and Grammy winner Luciana Souza on May 11.
The Theatre for the Very Young is geared to children ages 1-5 and starts Oct. 17 with Imagination Stage’s “Mouse of the Moon.”
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, a poet/dancer, will perform a choreopoem called “Word Becomes Flesh” March 22-24 and a second work in May.
The INTERSECTIONS Festival also saw increased attendance to 11,000 in 2012. It is returning Feb. 22-March 9.