The Shakespeare Theatre Company is coming off one hell of a week. Last Sunday, it collected a Tony Award. Out of that glow came the news Friday that it had asked for an injunction against the landlord of its 7th Street NW venue, Lansburgh Theatre, Inc., which wants to raise the company’s rent to $480,000 a year from $70,000 and has threatened to evict it. The troupe moved to the Lansburgh Theatre in 1992, when the venue was built as a quid pro quo, the D.C. Superior Court filing says, by Gunwyn/Lansburgh Development Corp., the developers of the Lansburgh apartment building—-this during a decade in which the District government heavily incentivized the establishment of arts spaces around Gallery Place. Lansburgh Theatre, Inc., is a “supporting organization” whose purpose, the filing claims, is to collect rent from the theater company for a fund that is only to be used for capital improvements to the venue. From the press release:
The requirements in LTI’s Articles state that LTI may not change its “designated supported organization” — STC — and it must be responsive to STC also giving the Company a significant voice in any major decisions. In addition, LTI lacks the power to terminate either STC’s status as the supported organization or its right to occupy the Theatre as long as STC performs its charitable purpose, which undoubtedly continues today. By law, no person including LTI, may have a private economic interest in the theatre property. Under the current lease agreement, 100% of the rent STC pays goes into a capital reserve fund that is held in trust exclusively to maintain the upkeep of the Lansburgh Theatre.
LTI’s board has three members: Shakespeare Theatre Company Managing Director Chris Jennings, Kenneth Krozy, and Gordon Shone. Krozy, according to the court filing, is a manager of the Lansburgh apartments and is compensated by Gunwyn. Shone’s business address is the same as Krozy’s Needham, Mass.-based company.
Here’s the motion. You can read the rest of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s legal filings below. Things get heated around page 110 in the declaration from Jennings, in which Krozy calls for Jennings’ removal from the LTI board and even provides a sample letter of resignation. More on all of this soon.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ecragg