A 100-seat film theater, a similarly sized dramatic theater and a 250-seat theater designed for both dance and drama are part of a plan to turn the basement and first floor of the old Lansburgh department store into a shopping mall of the Washington arts and humanities.
Representatives of 33 nonprofit organizations, the bluk of the Washington small arts establishment, began meetings yesterday with architects in the building at 7th and E Streets NW to sketch out each group's space and technical needs.
The Lansburgh plan also includes a cafeteria, private space for about a dozen of the groups eventually chosen for the building, a print shop, frame shop, darkroom and common exhibit space open to outside organizations.
Yesterday's meeting was to fit more pieces of the planning jigsaw puzzle together.
"We can fit the workshops-the darkroom, the silk screening, the woodworking-into the shallower spaces in the basement," said Mark Maves, one of the architects representing Anderson Notter-Mariani.
"The high-profile stuff, the most visually exciting set-ups, will be on the main floor. We might even plug some of the exhibits, like pottery, directly into the windows."
The installation of the theaters would require removing some of the store's columns, Maves said.
If the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. (PADC) approves the final proposal, the center could open as soon as September 1980. The National Archives, which already uses the fourth, fifth and sixth floors for storage, plans to renovate the second and third floors for office space.
The General Services Administration is being asked to bear the cost of bringing the building, vacant for five years, up to federal standards of safety and accessibility.The Archives would pay for renovating the areas on the first floor and basement which it might use for its own exhibits. The money to renovate the remaining space would have to be raised from arts endowment and private sources.
Al Meisel, director of the Archives' office of educational programs, believes the Lansburgh project is the first collaboration between the federal government and private arts and humanities organizations.
Meisel says the Archives, as repository of the government's historical recordings, films and photographs, is a "natural partner" of the Washington arts.
"We also 'live' in this neighborhood, and we have some obligations here. We think that by establishing just this kind of center, we can help to revitalize the whole neighborhood."
The center would be a relatively temporary home for the arts groups, since the PADC has scheduled the Lansburgh building for complete renovation in 1986, so "the faster we get in there, the better for everyone," Meisel says.
"One of the things that's getting to be really exciting about this is that the groups are realizing how much they can gain from each other," says Maves.
"The guy from Sign of the Times was saying that his whole clientele is in far Northeast, and that they really don't have access to facilities downtown. But with a center like this, he could bring a lot of those kids into the city to see that the arts aren't just something somebody dreamed up."
The applicant organizations are: Studio Gallery, Washington Review, Miya Gallery, Washington Women's Art Center, D.C. Art Association, D.C. National Conference of Artists, Positive Image, Centro Grafico, MOTA, African Heritage Dancers, Greg Reynold's Dance Exchange, Dance Exchange, Dance Project (Jan Van Dyke), Watershed Foundation, Travelin' Blues Workshop, the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, Lettumplay, City Museum, Architour, Stage Directions, Library Theater, Archaesus Productions, Living Stage, the Rep, Ebony Impromptu, Gala Theater, WAFL, Workshops for Careers in the Arts, New Theater Center for Ethnic Arts, Charisma Youth Organization, Tomorrow's World Art Center, Sign of the Times and NARS. CAPTION: Picture, Architect Mark Maves, by Margaret Thomas-The Washington Post