Lumina Studio’s Artistic Director David Minton, on Sunday, called a Lumina report that a Lumina spokesperson had given DC Theatre Scene “strictly internal and used to generate new ideas” and characterized its release as “a mistake.”
Complaints about the space’s management, Minton said, “had nothing to do with suggesting a change to the single operator model established by the County with Round House Theatre when the [Silver Spring] Black Box was built.”
Lumina’s report had criticized Round House Theatre management of the Silver Spring space and accused Round House of lack of transparency concerning the rent it charged to its tenants. Minton said that “Lumina has enjoyed…a long and fruitful evolution in the [Silver Spring] Black Box space. This was due, among other things, to the intelligence that [Round House] used in scheduling and, to some extent, incubating us in the space. The schedules of Lumina, Live Garra, ArtStream, Happenstance, and Forum do not overlap.
“We have enjoyed cordial and professional relations with [prior Round House Artistic Director] Blake Robison,” Minton said, “and continue to experience the same with [current Artistic Director] Ryan [Rilette] and his staff.”
According to Minton, Lumina had no objection to Round House’s disclosure or non-disclosure of financial information. “That was a matter between Round House and the County,” Minton said.
“Ryan, his Board, and the [Round House] staff have conducted themselves as sensitive and caring professionals during our discussions and now as we all begin a transition to a new model for the operation of the [Silver Spring] Black Box space. All of the players – the County, the theaters, and our audiences – want this to be a win-win and we are working to make that happen,” Minton said.
Minton says that he is attempting to form a consortium with other tenants of the Silver Spring building to rent the building from its owner, Montgomery County, and manage it as a theater space. Lumina and its Consortium partners, ArtSpace and Live Garra, “are in conversations,” with Forum Theatre, the space’s resident theater, “about their continued presence in the space and their inclusion in the Consortium group. We have no intentions to disrupt their schedule. We hope to speak soon with Happenstance [another Silver Spring tenant] as well.”
Minton argues that a consortium arrangement would best fit the current needs of the town. “Silver Spring has experienced explosive change in the last 10 years in demographics and arts needs. The Consortium model is proposed to address these diversity and fairness issues.”
If there is a consortium, however, it will apparently not include Round House Theatre. “We will not be joining the Consortium and don’t expect to work in that space after June 30, 2014,” Rilette said in an e-mail interview with DCTS yesterday. “We will be moving the programs that we currently do there and those we had planned for the future to [its present location in] Bethesda.”
Rilette revealed that Round House’s new play festival, which had previously been slated for Silver Spring, would be staged in the company’s Bethesda facility. “We are in the process of redesigning it to fit the schedule and layout of that theater.”
Rilette said that Round House management would look for additional space to supplement its current Bethesda facility. According to Rilette, moving shows originally designed for Silver Spring into Bethesda “will keep that theater in use year-round and there will be no more room for growth, so long-term, our board is exploring many different options.”
Rilette did deny a suggestion carried in the Washington Post that its decision to surrender management of the Silver Spring facility was motivated by a worry that the County would not renew the company’s lease on its Bethesda facility. “We aren’t concerned about renewing our lease for the Bethesda theater when it comes due in a few years,” Rilette said. “That had nothing to do with our decision to stop managing the [Silver Spring] black box.”
It appears, instead, that Round House had simply grown tired of defending its management of the Silver Spring facility. “We have spent the last six months making the case for why the public is best served by continued Round House management of the space. This has already taken vital time away from mission-related work,” Round House said in a press release which it issued prior to the now-repudiated Lumina criticism.
“We cannot afford to spend another year defending our management of the black box, and we can’t see any outcome to these negotiations that would result in Round House retaining the space in a manner that would allow us to build the programming that we want to do in the future. Therefore, after a thorough review of the options, we have given the County our one-year notice to terminate our management of the black box effective June 30, 2014. ”