Strathmore, developer plan performance venue


The Music Center at Strathmore. (Jim Morris)

Strathmore will partner with Federal Realty Investment Trust, developer of a 24-acre town center under construction in the White Flint area near Rockville, to create a 250-seat performing arts venue next year.

The venue, which Strathmore founder and chief executive Eliot Pfanstiehl said will have a “club-like setting,” is scheduled to open next year, with programming beginning in early 2015.

“We’ve always lived on our 11 acres,” Pfanstiehl said. “This is our first big step off campus.”

Pfanstiehl said the Music Center at Strathmore needs the medium-size space that the venue will provide. Currently, the performing arts center offers performances in its 1,976-seat concert hall in North Bethesda and its 100-seat music room in the Mansion at Strathmore.

Strathmore and the developers of Pike & Rose, the name of the planned town center, hope to target younger audiences by offering jazz, rock and folk performances.

The partnership also marks a new economic model for Strathmore. In the past, Strathmore has teamed up with other auxiliary sites to host programs elsewhere.

While it has joined with the Asbury Methodist Village retirement community and Johns Hopkins University to bring concerts and performances to seniors, this is the first time it has partnered with a developer.

“We’re in a different economic era,” Pfanstiehl said. “No longer can [institutions] afford to put up huge capital dollars and create these temples of the arts.

“Instead, we’re finding a common motivation with the developer to build on what they have so we can reach a lot more people.”

Strathmore is not contributing construction money, but will have a leasing agreement with the developer as “a major tenant tenet of the community.”

It plans to schedule concerts at the venue on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The developer will rent out the auditorium space on other days for corporate events, weddings and other engagements. While the space will bear the Strathmore moniker, the venue has not been named.

“We’re finding great opportunities for partnership off campus. . . . That’s our future,” Pfanstiehl added.

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.

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