We’re the Art Beat of H Street
The Atlas Performing Arts Center is a non-profit performing arts venue in a historic theater. We’re the cultural anchor of the H Street, Northeast community in Washington, DC. The Atlas fosters and presents stellar art in film, dance, music, theater, vocal and choral work, spoken word, and beyond.
The Atlas has four performance spaces and we often host free events in our lobby. We produce Atlas Presents performances and also rent our spaces to other artist groups so they can create their own productions. We support and partner with DC arts makers – our Arts Partners – including Capital City Symphony, Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Joy of Motion Dance Center, and Step Afrika!
The Atlas also leads in its arts education initiatives through our City at Peace youth development program and the Atlas’ Stagecraft Training and Apprenticeship Program. In the winter each year, we produce our popular INTERSECTIONS Festival that hosts close to 400 artists and performing groups who entertain and engage thousands of patrons in a multi-week long celebration of the arts.
Our mission is to bring people together through the arts to expand the reach and strengthen the bonds of our community. We provide shared space in a creative environment that inspires exceptional performances, events, and initiatives that enlighten, entertain, and reflect the best of the arts and our humanity.
As the catalyst for neighborhood growth and change, the Atlas continues to play a major role in the regional creative economy and is where the arts, culture, and connection happen on H Street.
A LONG HISTORY ON H STREET
Originally built in 1938, the Atlas was one of four movie theaters in Washington, D.C. For 30 years, the iconic movie house was a second home for film lovers throughout the H Street Corridor. From film noir to classic buddy comedies, the Atlas Theater was a host for the magic of Hollywood for all DC residents.
But in 1968, everything changed for everyone in America. Riots ensued following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Atlas, as well as thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. For decades, the H Street Corridor was a dark and silent reminder of a once-vibrant H Street.
From 1968 to 2001, only the iconic art deco Atlas sign remained visible from the street. The building was empty for 33 years.
In 2001, Jane Lang, a philanthropist and lawyer, began discussing the renovation of the Atlas with its neighbors to determine the best possible use for the space. The group decided that the theater and several storefronts would become a community-based performing arts venue that would serve the blighted community. Spurred by Lang’s vision, the Washington, DC government adopted a plan in 2003 to rebuild the H Street, NE corridor and identified the Atlas as a cornerstone of revitalization.
The Atlas fully re-opened in 2006 as a 59,000 square-foot performing arts center with four performance spaces, dance studios, offices, back-of-house facilities and an expansive lobby with a café. The Atlas is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the proud recipient of the 2012 Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts.
We bring people together through the arts to expand the reach and strengthen the bonds of our community. We provide shared space in a creative environment that inspires exceptional performances, events, and initiatives that enlighten, entertain, and reflect the best of the arts and our humanity.
Our Vision 2020
The Atlas Performing Arts Center stands as a cultural icon and destination within a dynamic community energized by human diversity, abundant in economic opportunity, and infused with passion for the arts.
It’s not just a marquee – it’s a movement
What started out as positive messages on our marquee to the community during the closure due to COVID-19 turned into a support campaign for the Black Lives Matter movement. Below is a word from our Executive Director, Doug Yeuell regarding that support with regularly updated images of our ongoing #MarqueeMessages.
The Atlas Performing Arts Center together with our Board and staff are deeply saddened by the death of George Floyd, and other victims targeted by racially motivated violence such as Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We unequivocally condemn racism. We grieve for the victims’ families and all those suffering. Our hearts are heavy. But where there is anger, fear, and frustration, there is also hope, and most importantly there is strength. We stand together with the Black Lives Matter Movement. The stems of social injustice brought on by systems of oppression such as racism have deep roots in our society. The propagation and embrace of white privilege have shaped our ways of being for centuries and is a hard reality to overcome – but we shall overcome.
At the Atlas Performing Arts Center we curate, produce, and present art that has impact. We support art that informs, educates, inspires, enlightens, and can even heal. The magic of art is that it can create a space for conversation. Through conversation, we can find understanding. Through understanding, we can find common ground. When we stand together, we can find peace. Art can make that happen. We here at the Atlas are steadfast in our resolve to use our art for the greater social good. Performances by our Resident Arts Partners, our annual Intersections Festival, and our City at Peace art and social justice youth development program all combine to make the Atlas a safe space for humanity, civility, education, and empowerment. But we can do more. We are listening to you and are committed to amplifying black voices and socially conscious art. If you wish to connect with us regarding our efforts to build inclusivity please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Executive Director of the
Atlas Performing Arts Center
The DC Mayor’s Office and Murals DC selected the Atlas as one of 51 new mural sites as part of the DC Statehood initiative. Five local muralists, César Maxit, Dr.RickaMortis, Jah-One, Jay Hudson, and Lisa Marie Thalhammer, created eight unique murals representing motifs ranging from statehood, social justice, racial equity, love, LGBTQ awareness, harmony, community, D.C. history, and culture. For more information about artists and other MuralsDC51 locations visit muralsdcproject.com.