Through a DC Neighborhood Investment Fund grant, the Conservancy hired the nationally known theatre management consultant firm, Webb Management Services, to do a feasibility study. Is there a market to support the Takoma Theatre as a cultural arts center— “If we build it, will they come?” And what kind of programming would be required?
More specifically, the study focused on four questions:
- What is the market and audience demand for a revitalized Takoma Theatre? (Audience Market Demand)
- What is the demand for space by performers and other users? (User/Performer Demand)
- How well would a revitalized Takoma Theatre compete with other theaters and arts facilities in the area?(Competitive Situation)
- How would a revitalized Takoma Theatre support broader community goals? (Community Benefits)
Feasibility Study Conclusions
Overall, the study concluded:
- The market conditions and potential for the revitalization and renovation of the Takoma Theatre are positive
- The Theatre should be restored and should focus on 1) providing a home to arts groups to support the development and presentation of their work; and/or 2)providing space and programs to serve and enhance the community
Anchor tenants would bring established skills, high quality programs, an audience and important reputation to the renewed space. For these users, renovations must satisfy the needs for rehearsal, performance and support spaces (including dressing rooms, backstage, and offices).
The Takoma Theatre can succeed as a community arts facility activated by an array of multi-disciplinary programs and arts groups providing performances, lectures, film events, classes and other activities to serve people of all ages. Key physical components would include: 1) a multi-purpose, high-tech, flexible rooms equipped for performance, rehearsals, classes, lectures, film and special events; 2) classrooms, studios and/or meeting spaces; 3) exhibition spaces; and 4) a small warming kitchen.
Audience Market Demand
What is the market and audience demand for a revitalized Takoma Theatre?
- Based on the market area’s size and characteristics, the potential demand for arts and entertainment programs is significant both in the area surrounding the Theatre and in the larger DC region
- A renovated Takoma Theatre could ably serve the audiences from the DC region for presentations by DC-based cultural organizations, more recognized artists, and other events
- The Theatre also has the potential to serve areas surrounding the Theatre (including neighborhoods within DC’s Ward 4 as well as Takoma Park and nearby Maryland) for community-based programs.
When compared to research on national arts participation, the market area’s size and characteristics indicate a latent demand for arts and entertainment programs due to higher than average levels of educational attainment, high-income levels, a concentration of middle-aged to older adults and significant and growing diversity. A renovated Theatre would be the only independent performing arts theatre in DC’s Ward 4 (encompassing zip code areas 20011, 20012 and 20015).
User/ Performer Demand
What is the demand for space by performers and other users?
- There is significant demand for a renovated Takoma Theatre from local and regional arts organizations, educational institutions and independent artists. These groups seek affordable and accessible space with the good acoustics and the quality technical capabilities of a renovated theatre
- A renovated Theatre would be well-positioned for productions of professional theater, dance, popular entertainment (including comedy), spoken word and other ethnically-specific offerings
- There is also significant demand for informal classroom, multi-purpose spaces and flexible performance spaces by potential education and outreach programs.
How well would a revitalized Takoma Theatre compete with other theaters and arts facilities in the area?
- The Theatre’s physical characteristics, particularly its proximity to the Metro and seating capacity (500+) are highly advantageous for stage presentations
- A renovated Theatre would be well-positioned within the area to compete for users and audiences especially with renovations/ additions for: 1) space to accommodate rehearsal, programs or informal performance; 2) kitchen facilities; and 3) a food service component
How would a revitalized Takoma Theatre support broader community goals?
- As a revitalized community cultural arts center, the Theatre has the potential to serve as an important economic driver for the community, to attract and enhance the workforce of existing businesses, and to further improve an already high quality of life in the area.