Needing more room to teach, college turns Capitol Hill performance spaces into classrooms

Balagan Theatre has been running shows and productions out of Erickson Theatre, Seattle Central Community College’s resident performance space on Harvard Avenue since 2011. That is all going to change — an announcement from the the theatre reports the troupe could be looking for a new home as the school is devoting more of its Capitol Hill building spaces to instruction.

“Our lease expires September 30. Seattle Central Community College recently informed us that they intend to resume property management for the space, with the desire to make it primarily instructional. Because we’ve had a strong relationships with the college, they have offered Balagan priority booking of the Erickson. So don’t worry! We won’t be leaving the Erickson entirely.” 

The group originally hop-scotched between venues and last held productions at an E Pike theater until perching itself on Capitol Hill in late 2011. It seems likely the theatre’s relationship with the space will be changing.

When the lease is up, “the college will use it during the daytime,” the school’s Jeff Keever said. He tells CHS Seattle Central will operate the Erickson like a “rental house” in the same fashion that the Broadway Performance Hall is used on campus — allowing groups to rent the space for a fee.

The college currently charges a $600 daily flat rate for groups to rent out the Broadway Performance Hall for an 8 hour block of time; other expenses are included in the rental process such as technician costs and gear rental. No numbers have been released yet on rental costs for the Erickson but it has a seating capacity of about half the hall. 

Keever says the school hopes to upgrade the Erickson facility to accommodate classes which would require additional lighting and possibly a shifting stage. Lacking a drama department, it’s unlikely the school will use the building to host acting classes.

Meanwhile, accounting classes have started to be held in the 295-seat Broadway Performance Hall. Seattle Central’s choirs and various musical groups also use the space for musical performance. However the space is used more room for classes is never a bad thing and despite lowered attendance it is needed. The Seattle Community College District has seen a drop of about 5,000 students since 2007 according to an October Board of Trustees document. The district hit a five year low with 48,349 enrolled students for the 2011-2012 academic years. While attendance may be lower than usual open class space is a rare commodity and the opening of the Erickson for courses may help alleviate some pressure.

4 thoughts on “Needing more room to teach, college turns Capitol Hill performance spaces into classrooms

  1. The story in the story … why is enrollment dropping? It would seem there would be an opposite trend, retraining, high cost at the 4 year colleges … why?

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