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Sunday, January 9, 2011

The performing arts are burgeoning in suburban Washington despite the region's economic struggles.

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At least eight performing arts centers have been built since 2000. A sampling of 17 of the many centers around the area reveals a rich array of opportunities on offer.

SOURCES:

The performing arts centers

INDEPENDENTS

1 Strathmore

North Bethesda, strathmore.org

301-581-5100

Opened: 2005 (Music Center)

Annual operating budget:

$8 million

Theaters: 2

Seating capacity: Music Center, 1,976; Mansion, 110

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: 6

Performances in 2010: 185

Cost to rent facilities: $13,000 to $28,000 per performance, depending on production requirements

Upcoming highlights: Friedrich Kleinhapl and Andreas Woyke, cello/piano (the Mansion, Jan. 20); Brian Ganz, Chopin recital (Jan. 22); Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires (Jan. 25)

Summary: The doyenne of the region's performing arts centers began as a small space in the Mansion at Strathmore before pulling off the construction of a major new concert hall that's one of the best in the area.

Phone Number: (301) 581-5200

2 Hylton Performing Arts Center

Manassas, hyltoncenter.org

703-993-7759

Opened: 2010

Annual operating budget: $2 million

Theaters: 2, plus foyer used for performances

Seating capacity: Merchant Hall, 1,121; Gregory Family Theater, 270; Didlake Grand Foyer, 300-500

Average percentage of tickets sold: 80

Resident companies: 11

Performances in 2010: 125 (hall opened in May)

Cost to rent facilities: $6,000 to $10,000, depending on requirements

Upcoming highlights: Fairfax Symphony (Jan. 16); Anna & Friends (chamber music, Jan. 23); Dailey & Vincent (bluegrass, Jan. 29)

Summary: Built with funds from the city, county and state, the Hylton opened in 2010. It is administered by George Mason University but independent in its programming.

3 Montpelier Arts

Center

Laurel, arts.pgparks.com

301-377-7800

Opened: 1979

Annual operating budget: Not available; part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 120

Average percentage of tickets sold: 100

Resident companies: None

Performances in 2010: 31

Cost to rent: Generally does not rent

Upcoming highlights: Buckwheat Zydeco (May 13); Wailin' Jennys (April 1); Lafayette Gilchrist (jazz pianist, March 18)

Summary: The Montpelier Arts Center offers exhibitions, classes, performances and residencies.

4 Publick Playhouse

Cheverly, arts.pgparks.com

301-277-1712

Opened: 1977 (renovation of old theater; renovated again in 1984 and 2006)

Annual operating budget: Not available; part of Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 494

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Performances in 2010: 2009-10 season (September-July) 136 total; 87 productions

Cost to rent: Charges hourly, depending on county organization vs. non-county

Upcoming highlights: Lula Washington Dance Theatre (Feb. 16-17); Praise liturgical dance show (Feb. 27); Ballet Folklorico Mexico (May 2)

Summary: Since 1977, this former art deco movie theater has been operating as a center for a range of performances, classes and events, including children's theater, films and arts workshops.

5 Workhouse Arts

Center

Lorton, workhousearts.org

703-495-0001

Opened: 2008

Annual operating budget: $4.7 million for arts center, $750,000 for premier theater

Theaters: Multiple venues with seating for up to 300; new 300-seat theater is scheduled to open in late 2011

Seating capacity: 50 to 300

Average percentage of tickets sold: 65

Resident companies: 1

Number of performances in 2010: More than 100

Cost to rent: Not available

Upcoming highlights: Opening of event center and theater in 2011

Summary: This former correctional facility now provides visual and performing arts studio exhibition space, education programs and a home for more than 150 local artists.

6 BlackRock Center for the Arts

Germantown, blackrockcenter.org

301-528-2260

Opened: 2002

Annual operating budget:

$1.2 million

Theaters: 3

Seating capacity: Mainstage Theater, 210; Studio Theater, 150; outdoor stage, 500-600

Tickets sold: 5,313 tickets to 44 shows

Resident companies: None, but it partners with the Art League of Germantown and Upcounty Theater

Performances in 2009-10: 43, plus seven outdoor concerts

Cost to rent: $1,600 to $2,000 to rent Mainstage

Upcoming highlights: Chuck Redd (Feb. 12); Margot MacDonald (Feb. 17); Deanna Bogart (March 5)

Summary: This facility came into being as a community initiative of people anxious for a performing arts center in their own town.

7 Artisphere

Arlington, arlingtonarts.org

703-228-1850

Opened: October

Annual operating budget:

$3 million

Theaters: 5

Seating capacity: Ballroom: 450 (used for standing audiences and dancing); Bijou Theater, 30; Black Box, 150; Dome Theater, 220; Spectrum Theater, 389

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: 6

Performances in 2010: In its first three months, presented 99 programs

Cost to rent: $875 to $15,000 for private events

Upcoming highlights: Urban Arias (contemporary mini-operas, Jan. 14); National Chamber Ensemble (Jan. 29); Dar Williams and the Ibis Chamber Music Society (Jan. 30)

Summary: The former Newseum building has become "a space for people and art to collide" with four performance spaces, three visual art galleries, a ballroom and a town hall with free Wi-Fi.

8 Wolf Trap

Vienna, wolftrap.org

703-255-1900

Opened: 1971

Annual operating budget:

$29 million

Theaters: 3

Seating capacity: Filene Center, 3,868 in-house, 3,160 lawn; Barns at Wolf Trap, 382; Children's Theater-in-the-Woods, about 800

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: 1 (also serves as summer home to the NSO)

Performances in 2010: Nearly 300 (mostly in the summer)

Cost to rent: Does not rent

Upcoming highlights: International Guitar Night (Jan. 13); Peabody Trio (Jan. 14); Chicago City Limits (Jan. 20-21)

Summary: "America's national park for the performing arts" offers summer shows in the open-air Filene Center and year-round performances in the Barns.

9 Gildenhorn/Speisman Center for the Arts at the JCC of Greater Washington

Rockville, jccgw.org

301-881-0100

Opened: 1969

Annual operating budget: $750,000

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 290

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: One, plus several others who "consider us home"

Performances in 2010: 188

Cost to rent: Varies, depending on group and facility

Upcoming highlights: Claremont Piano Trio (March 13); Orli Shaham (April 10); Menahem Pressler (May 15)

Summary: Small theater presents a range of in-house programming.

10 Bowie Center for the Performing Arts

Bowie, bowiecenter.org

301-805-6880

Opened: 2004

Annual operating budget: $480,000

Theaters: 2

Seating capacity: Main Hall, 800; Recital Hall, up to 125

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: None

Performances in 2010: Not available

Cost to rent: $200 to $425 per hour, depending on nonprofit status of group

Upcoming highlights: Maryland Opera Society (Jan. 5); U.S. Navy Concert Band (Jan. 14)

Summary: Instructional facility for all forms of the performing arts, operated by the county's public schools, the city, the state park and planning commission.

11 Weinberg Center for the Arts

Frederick, weinbergcenter.org

301-228-2828

Opened: 1978

Annual operating budget: $1.3 million

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 1,143

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: None, but eight local groups use it

Performances in 2010: 150 events October-June), plus 10 in summer

Cost to rent: $2,500 for nonprofit groups; $3,500 for commercial

Upcoming highlights: Second City Live (Jan. 22); Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Feb. 4); Handel Happy Hour (Feb. 24)

Summary:Originally an art deco movie theater and still boasting its original Wurlitzer organ, this nonprofit center in Frederick presents a range of events from standup comedy to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

CAMPUSES

12 Clarice Smith Center

University of Maryland at College Park,

claricesmithcenter.umd.edu

301-405-2787

Opened: 2001

Annual operating budget:

$6 million

Theaters: 6

Seating capacity: Dekelboum Concert Hall, 1,100; Gildenhorn Recital Hall, 300; Kay Theater, 650; Kogod Theater, 200; Cafritz Foundation Theater, 100; Dance Theater, 180

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available

Resident companies: Student ensembles and organizations of U-Md.

Performances in 2010: 280

Cost to rent: Dekelboum Concert Hall, $3,200; nonprofit groups pay $2,750; U-Md. departments and registered organizations pay $1,600

Upcoming highlights: Choreographers' Showcase (Jan. 29); Siti Company, "Radio Macbeth" (Feb. 4); New York Festival of Song (Feb.12); U-Md. Wind Orchestra, "Torn Canvases" (Feb. 18)

Summary: In addition to showcasing student groups, collaborates with U-Md. in bringing in contemporary and cutting-edge ensembles from across the country: Laurie Anderson, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Kronos Quartet.

13 George Mason

University Center

for the Arts

Fairfax, cfa.gmu.edu

703-993-8888

Opened: 1990

Annual operating budget:

$5 million

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 1934

Average percentage of tickets sold: 74

Resident companies: 4

Performances in 2010: About 250, 200 of which are ticketed

Cost to rent: $3,000 to $4,000, plus additional expenses depending on the size of the production

Upcoming highlights: Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie (Jan. 29); Mark Morris Dance Group (Feb. 4-5); Virginia Opera, "The Valkyrie" (Feb. 18, 20)

Summary: Offers a mixture of GMU faculty and student performances and an array of national and international performers, including European orchestras.

14 Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center

Northern Virginia Community College,

Alexandria, schlesingercenter.com

703-845-6156

Opened: 2001

Annual operating budget: $325,000

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 941

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available.

Resident companies: 5

Performances in 2010: 64

Cost to rent: Depends upon tax status and amount of time needed for the event

Upcoming highlights: American Balalaika Symphony (Jan. 15); U.S. Marine Band (almost weekly); Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (Feb. 12)

Summary:Still relatively little-known, but increasingly used by Washington groups, this hall sits near the intersection of Alexandria, Fairfax and Arlington.

15 Cultural Arts Center at Silver Spring

Montgomery College, Takoma Park/

Silver Spring campus,

montgomerycollege.edu/cac

240-567-1300

Opened: 2009

Annual operating budget: $200,000

Theaters: 2

Seating capacity: Theater 1, 500; Theater 2,116

Tickets sold: 150 performances in the large theater with an average audience of 250

Resident companies: None

Performances in 2010: 150

Cost to rent: $1,400 to $2,500 for the larger theater

Upcoming highlights: Native American Contemporary Songs (Feb. 11); CityDance Ensemble (Feb. 25-27); Tether (play, Feb. 18-March 30)

Summary: This gleaming new facility in Silver Spring offers theater, world music, children's events, and faculty and student performances.

16 Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center

Northern Virginia Community College,

Annandale campus, nvcc.edu

703-323-3000

Opened: 1991

Annual operating budget: $600,000

Theaters: 1

Seating capacity: 525

Average percentage of tickets sold: Not available (clients sell tickets to their shows)

Resident companies: None

Performances in 2010: 50-plus

Cost to rent: Not available

Upcoming highlights: Encore Theatrical Arts Project (April 2-3); Virginia Ballet (May 14-15); Dancin' Unlimited (Jan. 28-30)

Summary: Less known and more modest than the Schlesinger Concert Hall at NVCC's Alexandria campus, the Ernst Center is another affordable home for some of the region's smaller groups.

17 Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center

Montgomery College, Rockville,

montgomerycollege.edu/PAC

240-567-5301

Opened: 1984

Annual operating budget: $1,385,000

Seating capacity: 509

Tickets sold: Professional series performances almost always sell out; student shows run the gamut

Resident companies: None

Performances in 2010: 145

Cost to rent: Not available

Upcoming highlights: Inscape plays Copland and Barber (Feb. 4); Stars of the Bolshoi (March 9); Orquestra de Guitarras de Barcelona (April 19)

Summary: The older of Montgomery College's two performing arts centers offers a number of performances by international and national performers.

- Compiled by Erin Williams, Winyan Soo Hoo and Michael Cotterman


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