Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Howard and Lincoln Theatres: run them like the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust/Playhouse Square Cleveland model

Run them together.

Years ago I applied for a job as marketing director of the Warner Theatre downtown. I didn't get the job. But a point I made in the cover letter was that while the Warner and National Theaters "compete" against each other on any given day, the reality is that together they compete against other areas of the region for theater-goers, that they need to market their offerings (along with other theaters located downtown such as the Landsburgh or Wooly Mammoth) collectively, marketing Downtown DC as a theater destination vis-a-vis other areas.

In Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust runs a number of downtown cultural establishments. And in Cleveland, the Playhouse Square Foundation does the same thing, but also takes on a greater role in real estate development. I wrote about Cleveland here, "Real estate value capture and the arts"


The City Paper had this article, "How Not to Screw up the Howard Theatre," about the Howard Theatre, which has just re-opened, and recently ran these pieces, "Should the District Sell Lincoln Theatre?" and "What’s Next for Lincoln Theatre?," about the Lincoln Theatre, which had received an unsolicited proposal for private management.

Combine the management and operations of the two facilities. In short, run the two facilities together, as part of one management entity.

Upgrade the Lincoln. Market the hell out of both of the facilities. And one set of administrators and marketers can, for the most part, run both facilities, saving money, heartache, time, etc.

Yes, there should be a comprehensive cultural plan (e.g., see the past blog entry "Cultural resources planning in DC: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king") but the city is unlikely to do such a crazy, thoughtful thing, and the creation of a similar nonprofit operation in DC is unlikely, at least in the intermediate term.

So in the meantime, get the people running the Howard Theatre to run the Lincoln Theatre...
Lincoln Theatre marquee

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