Sekrit Theater Appears Close to Shuttering

Beau Reichert is considering a sale of his East Austin arts space


Beau Reichert (Photo by John Anderson)

Beau Reichert's Sekrit Theater appears closer than ever to shuttering. Even after extensive work to get his East Austin property up to code, Reichert hasn't yet found a solution that will allow him to continue hosting his larger parties and fundraisers in compliance with city ordinances – events Reichert says are vital to keeping the arts complex up and running.

Six months ago, Reichert talked about ongoing efforts to save his sanctuary-turned-community hub ("When the Sekrit's Out," Sept. 2, 2016). Now, most of his talk focuses on who might purchase the property; what they might do with it; and where he intends to relocate. His first choice would be to sell the property to a New York-based company that would turn his vision into a private club for artists. Reichert declined to identify potential suitors from New York.

"These are the options: subdivision, condominiums, or an art institute [that] wants to take over my vision and preserve the property," he told the Chronicle. "The city will give us a conditional use permit for a nonprofit."

Reichert believes the only chance to keep his Sekrit Theater up and running would be if City Council decided to grant him a variance on the rule that prohibits gatherings of more than 49 people on a single lot. No such effort has materialized. Arts Commissioner Felipe Garza said that's likely because granting Reichert a variance would set a precedent for other projects throughout the city. "If you grant one company a variance, you basically have to grant one for everyone else, or just change the rules," said Garza.

Garza suggested that buyers take into account zoning rules when they're looking into a property – considering what they want to do with that property and what its potential uses might become. At the same time, Garza admitted Reichert's problem as an artist struggling to make ends meet is a common one in Austin. "Austin is no longer affordable, and people are moving out in droves," he said. "And the solution to that is something that is almost beyond our control."

No matter the final outcome, Reichert now turns his attention toward other cities that might have the space and enthusiasm for a similar project. He said he's considering moving to Arizona, New Mexico, or Fredericksburg.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Beau Reichert, Felipe Garza, City Council, Sekrit Theater

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