The Lincoln Theater on U Street in Northwest DC has been a cultural landmark for over 90 years with performers like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and more recently, Alicia Keys. After a period of financial insolvency, the theater has a new operator with concerts scheduled for September and October.
The Lincoln Theater opened in 1922 as a 1,200-seat music venue for those who were not allowed to perform in segregated concert halls. But the theater started to decline during the 1968 race riots and was eventually boarded up for renovations in 1983. In 1994, the theater reopened under the management of the U Street Theater Foundation, who often relied on funding from the city.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) took over in January 2012. While the DCCAH was in charge, they spent $1 million on capital improvements and maintenance of the Lincoln Theater. During this time, the theater was a mixed-use venue for films, comedy shows, concerts, and other performances. In September 2012, DCCAH asked for proposals from commercial operators, who could make the Lincoln Theater a vibrant arts scene once again.
The DCCAH selected the bid from I.M.P. to become the new operator of the Lincoln Theater. I.M.P. is also the owner of the 9:30 Club in Northwest DC and Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.
These will be sit-down shows in a grand old theater -- quite a different experience from the 9:30 Club warehouse atmosphere. I.M.P. plans to host genres like pop, folk, and indie-rock that don’t fit well in the nightclub setting. Comedy events are also in the works for the theater.
Hopefully, I.M.P. will be able to bring life and financial health back to the Lincoln Theater.