They started by doing it in bars. Then they were doing it in theatres though always other peoples' theatres. But now, the folks at Salvage Vanguard Theater are going to be doing it that is, staging plays in their very own space. Last week, SVT artistic director Jason Neulander inked a lease on a warehouse at 2803 Manor in East Austin with plans to renovate it and open it as an arts center this fall.
It's been a long time coming, as any fan of SVT (or reader of Wayne Alan Brenner's recent history "Drive, He Said," Arts, April 14, 2006) can attest. Salvage was launched in 1994 with the show Kid Carnivore in the now-departed Electric Lounge, a bar which served as the company's home base its first three years. But ever since, Salvage has been wandering like Moses in the wilderness: Synergy Studio. The Public Domain. Hyde Park Theatre. The Vortex. The Off Center. The Blue. Gallery Lombardi. The Hideout. Little City Coffeehouse. At times it felt like the company was on the run, and you were chasing it across town.
No longer or at least not for eight years. That's the length of the lease signed with landlord Rubinett Family LP. Plans by architects Craig Nasso and Andrew Clements divide the warehouse into a 2,400-square-foot performance area with 100 seats, a 1,600-square-foot rehearsal space, costume and scene shops, lobby and box office, offices, dressing room, and 12 small studios to be subleased to local artists. Salvage will mount all its main-stage and second-stage shows in the building but like its Eastside neighbors, the Vortex, the Off Center, and the Blue, will make it available for rental by other arts companies. Shannon McCormick will be programming director for the venue.
SVT estimates renovation costs in the neighborhood of $350,000 and is gearing up for the biggest fundraising campaign in its 13-year history. It wants the capital raised by September 2006, so it can open the space with its planned fall production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, starring Lee Eddy.
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