Theater group ArtsCentric moving into former Single Carrot space

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Single Carrot Theater (via Baltimore Green Map)

Six months after Single Carrot Theatre announced plans to leave its home in Remington and become a roving performance company, another arts organization is taking its place.

ArtsCentric, a 16-year-old African-American theater group that has operated for years without a permanent home, plans to move into Single Carrot’s old space on Oct. 1.

The performing company has launched a campaign to raise $250,000 to get its new headquarters ready for use.

“We believe that with key improvements, this will be the perfect space for us to realize our vision,” said Cedric D. Lyles, director of operations, in a statement about the move.

“A permanent home will give us the stability necessary to best serve the community, strive toward our mission, and expand opportunities for new programming,” added artistic director Kevin McAllister.

ArtsCentric will join Young Audiences of Maryland/Arts for Learning at 2600 N. Howard Street, a former tire shop that Seawall Development converted to a performance venue and restaurant space. The building housed Spike and Amy Gjerde’s Parts & Labor restaurant and butchery until it closed last summer. A new tenant has not been announced for that space.

Founded in 2003, ArtsCentric is a nonprofit comprised of artists, musicians, educators, composers and playwrights who produce musicals, plays and concerts, sometimes forming partnerships with schools, churches and community groups. Past productions have included “Dreamgirls,” “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “Aida” and “Chicago.”

For the past three years, ArtsCentric has been based at Motor House on W. North Avenue. Its last show there will be “Little Shop of Horrors” from July 26 to Aug. 17, group president Chrissy Thornton said.

ArtsCentric’s leaders decided to find a permanent home as part of a strategic reorganization plan adopted this year, according to Thornton. Besides stage productions, directors envision creating a cultural arts center that will become a gathering spot for events and conversations that support the arts, tackle community issues and spotlight local artists and musicians.

Single Carrot’s directors disclosed in January that would leave Remington to focus on site-specific plays around the city. The company’s lease ended this past Sunday. The space includes a black box theater that seats up to 125 people, as well as office space, a green room and a workshop.

Thornton said ArtsCentric has signed a five-year lease for just over 3,000 square feet on two levels. She said Single Carrot has taken everything it owned out of the building, so ArtsCentric needs sound equipment, lighting and other items to mount stage productions, which is why it launched a fundraising drive. The company also needs a sign for the building’s exterior and other facade improvements, she said.

Thornton said ArtsCentric was attracted to the space largely because of the reputation of the landlord, Seawall.

“We were really impressed with what Seawall is doing,” she said. “They want to do more than build buildings. They’re interested in building community, and we want to be part of that.”

Thornton added that the Remington location isn’t far from its most recent home base at Motor House, which also made it attractive to the organization.

The capital campaign will culminate with a gala on Oct. 20. One of the first shows ArtsCentric plans to produce in its new home is “The Wiz,” most likely in December. Once it’s all moved in, she said, the organization will aim to put on six productions a year.

Ed Gunts

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