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There was a lot of blame swirling around at today’s press conference outside the Lincoln Theatre. Okay, the blame wasn’t exactly swirling—-it was pointed directly at Mayor Vince Gray.
Without an immediate source of funding, the historic theater on U Street may be forced to shut down—-and soon. “Shame on the District for knocking the theater instead of helping it,” said board member Rick Lee, who also owns Lee’s Flower & Card Shop at 11th and U streets NW. He went on to criticize Gray for letting the theater “fall apart,” possibly enabling it to fall into the hands of “insensitive individuals.” Earlier on, Lee described the Lincoln Theatre’s relationship with the District government as “a dysfunctional partnership that needs to be fixed,” adding that the mayor had not returned any of the board’s phone calls, preferring to speak to them “through the media.”
The board is asking for a $500,000 cash infusion from the District government before the start of the next fiscal year. In other words, by Monday, the first business day in FY 2012. Board secretary Cynthia Robbins said that money would go toward simply “keeping the doors open.” She could not specify when exactly the theater would shut down if it did not get immediate funding.
The mayor’s office has no official response just yet. A staffer says a press release may be in progress.
Update: The mayor’s office says they never received the board’s request for a meeting. Mayor spokesperson Dr. Linda Wharton-Boyd said the administration tried to contact the board, but never heard back.
The original version of this post misquoted board member Rick Lee. He criticized the mayor for potentially letting the theater fall into the hands of “insensitive individuals,” not “less sensitive individuals.”