Classika Theatre on the Hunt for New Space


(Sunday, January 28, 2007 11:12 AM EST)

Just as Signature Theatre in Shirlington Village gets started at its new location, Classika Theatre faces a rapidly approaching deadline to vacate its theater and office space down the street.

Classika Theatre specializes in family performances. They operate in conjunction with Synetic Theatre, which performs works for adults in Rosslyn.

Classika has made its home in Shirlington for about five years, and will have to move out when its lease is up at the end of February.

The property owner, Federal Realty Investment Trust, charged Classika only about a quarter of the market rate for storefront space, but recently asked for more.

“We're trying to negotiate to stay until the end of the season, if not longer,” said Classika Theatre's business manager Yulia Kriskovets. “It's been a struggle looking for a new home to host our family theater here in Northern Virginia.”

Leaving the Shirlington space at the end of February would uproot the company in the middle of its season, and would require that the company find a short-term space until the summer.

As of now, Classika has not been able to find a suitable short-term venue, but people on the organization's board and from Arlington County government are on the lookout.

“They're doing as much as they can, but there aren't many spaces,” Kriskovets said.

The company would much rather stay in its current location until it can find a better permanent venue, since a short-term move would be complicated and would require additional resources and funds, not only for making the physical move, but also for publicizing the new space.

Long-term venue options that Classika has explored include moving into a county-owned warehouse next to the old Signature Theatre building on Four Mile Run Drive, as well as working with two other arts organizations to try to create an arts education center at the Wilson School in Rosslyn.

Despite the impending move, Classika Theatre will keep its studio/rehearsal space, which is located behind the theater. The staff remains positive and will continue to plan next season.

“I'm not optimistic that Federal Realty will change their mind, but I am optimistic about finding a new venue,” Kriskovets said. “We want to stay here in Arlington. We have great support from Arlington County, we have great audiences - as much support from the community would be helpful.”

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