A once-abandoned movie theater complex in Northeast DC reopened in 2006 as the Atlas: a multidisciplinary, community-based venue where artists and audiences connect through dance, theater, music, and more. As the H Street corridor’s cultural anchor, the Atlas brings dozens of thought-provoking and affordable performances to its four stages each year. That’s in addition to the 85 collaborative shows, workshops, and classes that take place at its annual INTERSECTIONS Festival. Throughout the year, resident arts partners utilize the venue at discounted rates, allowing them to channel resources toward outstanding arts programming. The Atlas Stagecraft and Apprenticeship Program (ASTAP) trains adults to become professional stage hands, while the City at Peace program helps youth explore social justice and conflict resolution – and inspires a new generation of performing artists. This arts mecca draws 100,000+ patrons each year. Applause, please.
Until the theater can once again welcome guests, virtual programming keeps the community engaged. A Moving Walls exhibition, intended for live viewing, is now available online; new murals are visible outside the theater, and the Atlas’s City of Peace program is underway. Youth from different schools and neighborhoods explore questions about race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and the role these play in their lives. They bring concerns, creativity, and ideas for change that will help to create a city at peace. All of this – until the doors open and the lights go on.