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After a fruitless year-long search for a new home, Forum Theatre confirmed last week that it will stay in its 150-seat black-box space in Silver Spring.
Forum, which became the first resident theater company at Round House Theatre’s Silver Spring outpost when it moved into the venue in 2009, had been considering a move after Round House announced in June 2013 that it would not renew its claim to the space this year. (Round House’s 30-year lease in the Montgomery County-owned theater on Colesville Road, which was signed in 2003, had stipulated “check-ins” every decade.) The county put out a request for proposals in January to fill the space, and Forum joined with Lumina Studio Theatre, ArtStream, and Live Garra Theatre to manage the venue as a new collective named the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring. Last week, the county approved their bid.
Many of the spaces that Forum rented out before putting down roots in Silver Spring (Arena Stage’s 14th Street NW location, the Warehouse Theatre on 7th Street NW, and the H Street Playhouse in NE) no longer exist. “That was a big part of us coming here in the first place,” says Forum Artistic Director Michael Dove. After Round House announced that it would leave the Colesville Road black box, Dove and the Forum staff looked for a potential venue that could permanently house the company if it got booted. They didn’t find any viable options, and until last week, there was a looming possibility that Forum would have to vacate soon after its contract expired on June 30. “I couldn’t find any solution that would have given us a consistent home for a whole season,” Dove says. “It would have meant us moving around quite a bit and losing our office space.”
The consortium has signed a five-year lease with the county. Forum’s new partners have all used the space as renters, and they share a mission for cultural diversity and community outreach: Lumina through theater training programs for children and teens, Live Garra through an expansion of African-American theater in the county, and ArtStream through classes for adults with developmental disabilities. The consortium is “certainly an extension of what Forum already does,” says Dove.
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