Capitol Hill’s beloved Egyptian Theatre
After breaking ground in February, construction is underway and on schedule at the 12th Avenue Arts site. Last month Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn declared “Capitol Hill Housing Day” – in recognition of our work, particularly on the 12th Avenue Arts project, which will create new space for arts and culture as well as affordable housing.
During the development of 12th Avenue Arts, the question has been raised many times: Do we really need more arts space? Occasionally a theater closes, and the question is asked even more loudly. Last week, the big news is that the Landmark Theatres chain, the nation’s largest collection of art house movie screens, is not renewing the lease on Capitol Hill’s beloved Egyptian Theatre.
When we set out to develop 12th Avenue Arts, we had a general idea of performing arts space – likely a 300-seat theater. Convening a group of artists, arts administrators and funders, we received a much more concrete answer. The most pressing need was for smaller theaters, well designed and equipped, and configurable to multiple uses. We took this feedback and designed two modern black box spaces of 150 and 80 seats. The theater companies that will occupy the building are thrilled – the capacities are more appropriate to their audiences, and it allowed the inclusion of scene shop space, dressing rooms and storage.
At 600 seats, the Egyptian is way too large for most theatre produced on Capitol Hill. But the demand for the space remains. The word on the street is that five groups have already expressed interest in leasing the Egyptian.