Three Theater Groups to Steer New 12th Ave Arts Space

Fans of bold fringe theater will be glad to know: an arts group has been selected to work in residence at the performance spaces that will be a part of "12th Avenue Arts," or the exciting development currently planned to replace the Seattle Police Department parking lot near 12th Avenue and Pine Street (the Capitol Hill blog has been reporting on it regularly if you're not quite up to speed).

Here's an overview from Capitol Hill Housing website (the steward for the entire development):

12th Avenue Arts will transform a fenced-off, 29,000 square foot parking lot into a beautiful new mixed-use building integrating affordable housing, affordable arts and performance space, and local retail and nonprofit offices under one roof.

But the artist in residence in this case won't be just one person or group.

It's actually something of a marvelous three-headed beast made up of three, talented local fringe theater groups: Washington Ensemble Theatre (WET), New Century Theatre Company (NCTC) and Strawberry Theatre Workshop. The groups joined forces in bidding for the opportunity to become the "resident" arts group and got the good news they had been accepted just a few weeks ago.

WET and NCTC made the unofficial announcement at WET's annual fundraising gala on Saturday, which was met with loud cheers and applause from everyone in attendance.


In a follow up phone call, WET ensemble member Hannah Victoria Franklin explained that the partnership between the three groups formed organically, with Greg Carter of Strawberry and Jamie Herlich of NCTC helping spearhead the push. "The project was too big for us all individually," Franklin explained. "It just seemed logical to share resources."

Collectively, they will operate under an umbrella titled "Monkberry" or the "Monk Group." The groups will rotate producing works in two theater spaces (149 seats and 80 seats) currently proposed for the development, and will manage the rental of spaces to other small art groups.

The development isn't expected to be completed until 2014 and, according to Capitol Hill Housing's website, fundraising is still in progress. So stay tuned for more updates.

When asked if this exciting opportunity means WET will leave its charming (and challenging) little theater on 19th Ave, where it has presented eight seasons of work, Franklin says "It's too early to tell."