The Atlas Performing Arts Center is an historic and cultural anchor in the Near Northeast community of Washington, D.C. The Atlas fosters and presents exhilarating art in theatre, dance, music, vocal and choral work, spoken word, and more. It supports and partners with DC arts makers – its Arts Partners – including Capital City Symphony, Congressional Chorus and the American Youth Chorus, Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Joy of Motion Dance Center, and Step Afrika! The Atlas also leads in its arts education initiatives through its City at Peace youth development program and the Atlas’ Stagecraft Training and Apprenticeship Program. The Atlas also makes a difference through its community arts programs such as Mobilizing Our Community where close to 900 people created over 60 stellar mobiles and experienced the power of community, balance and connection. In the winter each year, it produces its popular Intersections Festival that hosts 400 artists and performing groups who entertain and engage 1000’s of patrons in a multi-week long festival. Its mission as a community focused arts organization is to bring people together through the arts to create, connect, and engage through innovative performances, events, and initiatives spanning a range of artistic expressions, traditions, and cultures. As the catalyst for neighborhood growth and change, the Atlas plays a major role in the regional creative economy and is where the arts, culture, and connection happen on H Street.
Originally built in 1938, the Atlas was one of four movie theaters in the H Street Northeast corridor. After the riots of 1968, the Atlas, a community icon, ultimately saw its demise and became a dark and silent reminder of the once vibrant H Street. 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 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.