All posts by Sharon Villines

Junkyard Pirates, NO DATE

Dino Rock’s Junkyard Pirates at Whittier EC & West EC
The singing, dancing Junkyard Pirates puppets, made from recycled materials, enthralled early childhood students at Whittier and West. They sail the urban seas on the lookout for trash to feed the dreaded, smelly monster Landfill. Landfill allows them to live on his land as long as they keep bringing him trash so he can grow larger and larger. The pirates sail into a recycling center, but the owner, Nellie, catches them and convinces them to work against Landfill. Nellie enlists the audience’s help through song and story, and learning about the 4 Rrrrr’s: Recycle – To process used or waste material so that it can be used again; Reduce the Use – To use less electricity, less paper products; Repair – To restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken; Reuse – To use again, especially after salvaging or special treatment. In partnership with Class Acts Arts.

Demolition by Neglect

Conservancy testimony expresses concern about lack of enforcement of Demolition by Neglect regulations.

In testimony before the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole Oversight Hearing on the Office of Planning (OP) and Historic Preservation Office (HPO) , Conservancy President Loretta Neumann, urged continued support for OP/HPO. She also expressed concern that HPO had not yet developed regulations to implement the DC Historic Preservation Act’s “Demolition by Neglect” provisions, which is now a decade old.

The Conservancy brought the deteriorating condition of the historic Takoma Theatre and lack of maintenance by the owner, Mr. Milton McGinty, to the attention of HPO. Because no regulations had been developed HPO was unable to act. Ms. Neumann urged the Council to support the development of these regulations by HPO.

Testimony by Ms. Loretta Neumann, President of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy to the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole Oversight Hearing, February 16, 2011


Shakespeare at Takoma EC
[Feb/Mar – 2011] Shakespeare lives at Takoma EC! With dynamic live performances and workshops, Educational Theatre Company’s (ETC) professional actors share their love of theatre and Shakespeare with Takoma’s students in grades 5-8. Following a lively and entertaining performance of scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ETC actors conducted individual workshops with each class. Students learn to explore the text’s vocal, physical, mental and emotional challenges in support of basic skills. Workshops included physical and vocal characterization, analysis of script and improvisation, and stage combat. Sponsored by Takoma Theatre Conservancy in partnership with Class Acts Arts.

Lions of Industry

Smithsonian’s “Lions of Industry …” at Whittier EC
[February, 2011] Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention by the Smithsonian Discovery Theatre engaged students at Whittier EC to look at the lives and work of amazing African American entrepreneurs and inventors who overcame immense odds to succeed. For Whittier, which is a DC Catalyst school emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the characters, including beauty innovator Madam C.J. Walker, agricultural chemist and painter George Washington Carver, and academic giant Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute, were particularly relevant. Also depicted are the “Father of Chicago”, Haitian American Jean Baptiste Point du Sable and his Native American wife, Kittahawa, potato chip inventor George Crum, and John Murphy, a freed slave who started the newspaper The Afro-American, one of the most influential publications of the early twentieth century. In partnership with Class Acts Arts.

Takoma Theatre Development

At their meeting on Jan 24th, ANC4B Commissioners gave their approval (6-0) to a resolution urging the DC government to take a stronger role related to the development of the theatre property. The Conservancy sought ANC and the city’s support citing the deteriorating condition of the theatre building. The resolution introduced by Commission Wheeler (4B02) notes the recent actions by DC’s Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs to fine the owner for failure to rectify conditions identified in a building inspection. The approved resolution reads(in part):

“ANC 4B urges the District of Columbia to take a leadership role in exploring options for development for this key property that will enhance and strengthen uses consistent with economic development, its status as a contributing structure in the Takoma Park Historic District, and especially community needs and desires, including a community cultural arts and education center providing programs, training and services for Wards 3, 4 and 5.

“Cognizant of the profound sacrifices and funding delays that many programs and projects are experiencing during the District’s fiscal crisis, ANC 4B asks that the District of Columbia consider the capital budget requests for this purpose [as it becomes feasible to do so and] in respectful regard for funding priorities of the Executive Branch and the Council of the District of Columbia.”

Dovie Thomason, 2010

Dovie Thomason, Native American Storyteller at Shepherd ES
[December, 2010] The wise, boisterous teaching tales of her Lakota and Plains Apache relatives come alive in listeners’ imaginations as Dovie Thomason shares her culture with understanding, sly humor and astonishing vocal transformations. Through diverse voices and gestures she conjures up the wisdom of Native Americans from the time before rocks were hard. In partnership with Class Acts Arts. [Shepherd ES 3rd-5th grades]

Demolition by Neglect Violations

Councilmember Muriel Bowser hosts community meeting on Takoma Theatre maintenance issues.

At a public meeting convened by CM Bowser, DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) reported on recent inspections of the Theatre to concerned theater neighbors and community members. Following an inspection of the Takoma Theatre the agency served the owner with a Notice of Violation relating to the condition of the shuttered building. Under the Notice the owner, Mr. Milton McGinty, has 30 days (until Nov 22) to abate the conditions. The inspection conducted by DCRA officials with Mr. McGinty, found that two corrective items would be required: to fix the holes in the leaking roof, and to paint the currently peeling façade areas.

Following questions from the audience, DCRA officials outlined the processes to follow the Notice. If the owner complies, no further actions would be taken. If the conditions are not abated, DCRA will file a Notice of Infraction. The owner will then have 15 days to appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings. If an Appeal is filed, the process then moves to the Court system. If no appeal is filed, the owner would be subject to a series of progressively increasing fines for not performing the corrective actions.

Community members had expressed concerns about the deterioration of the building, a contributing structure in the Takoma Historic District, and a circulating letter from Mr. McGinty stating he would no longer maintain the facility. Participants suggested that the owner might be exercising “demolition by neglect.”

CM Bowser advocated continuing to seek a working solution with Mr. McGinty that would not be round-after-round of fines and taxes, while acknowledging that the DC government with its economic shortfalls could not be the prime funding agent of that solution.

Urban Artistry Dancers

Urban Artistry
[May, 2010] Through its high energy performance and presentation, Urban Artistry introduced West EC students and parents at the annual Spring Fling to today’s urban dance forms — salsa, hip-hop, popping,locking, lacking, free-styling — and their historical and african and latin cultural origins.

President Receives Azalea Award

Conservancy President Loretta Neumann Receives the Takoma Foundation’s Azalea Award

Takoma Foundation Logo

At a ceremony on April 17, Takoma Theatre Conservancy President Loretta Neumann received one of the “Azalea Awards” sponsored by the Takoma Foundation and Takoma Voice newspaper.

Hers was the annual “Takivist” award for someone who “exemplifies Takoma-style civic leadership.” In accepting the award, Loretta stressed that the award was not for her personally, but also for the Conservancy and its board, members, volunteers and donors, who have helped in saving the Takoma Theatre from demolition. She stressed that the goal is to revive the theatre as a vibrant cultural arts and education center for the benefit of the entire community.

2009 Audit

Conservancy Receives certified Clean Audit for FY 2009

Farmer&First CPAs logoFarmer & First, CPAs of Warren, RI, conducted an audit of the financial position of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy. They found that “…the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Takoma Theatre Conservancy as of December 31, 2009. The change in its net assets and cash flows for the year then ended in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.