Thursday, September 5, 2013

Atlas Performing Arts Center thanks Mayor Gray for help covering recent historic renovation costs


The Atlas Performing Arts Center announced today that it has received an interest-free loan of $6.5 million from DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that will enable the Atlas to pay off the loan that financed its historic renovation in 2005. The Atlas will repay the loan over the span of 25 years in the form of community benefits valued at $260,000 annually, in accordance with the approved Community Benefits Plan. Together with funds raised through its Capital Campaign, and other sources, this loan will fully retire the renovation debt.

“The Atlas is profoundly grateful to Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his exceptional team including, Deputy Mayor Victor L. Hoskins in the Office of Planning and Economic Development and Director Michael P. Kelly in the Department of Housing and Community Development for this commitment,” said Atlas Founder and Board Chair Jane Lang. “The loan reflects the Mayor’s confidence in the Atlas, its contributions to the community and its future.”

In discussing the loan and Atlas’ role in the community, Mayor Gray stated, “The Atlas historically has been a symbol of the neighborhood’s resilience and potential. The vitality of H Street NE today demonstrates that public-private partnerships do work and can lay the foundation for growth that benefits us all.”

The Atlas is credited with having launched the revival of H Street NE corridor. Originally built as a movie theatre in 1938, the historic building was first acquired from the H Street Community Development Corporation in 2002. Today, the Atlas presents contemporary programming in music, theatre, dance and performance arts connecting diverse artists and audiences together through shared artistic experiences. Throughout the year, audiences have opportunities to attend high quality performances and participate in arts education programming and workforce development programs for free or at low cost.

“The Atlas is fortunate to have had the support of many talented and generous people over the years,” said Atlas Executive Director Sam Sweet. “This new loan from the District reinforces our commitment to serve the community and increase growth through excellence in the arts.”

Department of Housing and Community Development Director Michael Kelly echoed Sweet’s sentiments.

“The Atlas demonstrates the connection between  economic development and the arts,” noted  Kelly. “We are pleased to leverage the Community Development Block Grant Program to invest 6.5 million dollars in an organization that is a model for community development – one that is widely recognized and appreciated throughout the region, especially for the opportunities it creates for low and moderate income families.”

In addition to presenting over 80 performances in the arts, the Atlas is also home to Joy of Motion Dance Center, Congressional Chorus, American Youth Chorus, Northeast Senior Singers, Capital City Symphony, Step Afrika, Rorschach Theatre and African Continuum Theatre Company.

The Atlas has received numerous accolades and awards including the 2012 Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts, and the 2013 Top Performing Arts Venue award in the Washington City Paper’s Best Of reader’s poll. Additionally, the Atlas was added to the National List of Historic Properties in 2011.

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