- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 2, 2000


The In Series derived its name from critics, who dubbed its performances innovative, international and intimate, among other adjectives.
Now, the "In" stands for independent.
The unconventional performing arts series, which received its walking papers from host George Washington University in June, will emerge this fall as an independent arts group with a limited lineup.
The series will use volunteered space and donations to continue its 18-year tradition of producing eclectic fare with an international bent.
Carla Hubner, artistic director and group founder, knew George Washington officials were concerned that the series was losing money — $100,000 over the past two seasons.
That didn't prepare her for the end.
"I never thought it would happen, but it did," says Miss Hubner, who was let go June 30 by George Washington along with her series.
The series was held at and financed by Mount Vernon College for 16 years, then George Washington took over the women's college and took on productions for the past two years.
In the short time since receiving the unfortunate news, Miss Hubner has assembled a board of directors to oversee the series and crafted a limited fall schedule.
"We're optimistic the community will come forth and be helpful," she says. "We're still alive and kicking."
The fledgling group did receive a generous parting gift from the Foggy Bottom university — a $25,000 grant to support its upcoming season.
The first show of the fall, a cabaret-style roundup of 1930s tunes called "Studio '37," will take place Sept. 22 at the Czech Embassy in Northwest. Other shows will include the series annual tribute to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday, "The Marriage of Figaro," and "Echoes of Spain," featuring guitarist William Feasley.
For the past few years, the series annual budget hovered around $200,000. Now, Ms. Hubner envisions needing about $120,000 to cover the 2000-01 schedule.
Don't expect much change in the works offered, though.
"If anything, we need to keep chipping away at what it is about our program that the community perceives is different and emphasize that," she says.
Miss Hubner is pragmatic about her brainchild's chances for success.
"Does the community really need the In Series?" she asks, as if the upcoming season could serve as a referendum.
Grae Baxter, executive dean of the Mount Vernon campus, doesn't blame the quality for the dismissal of the series. The economic facts could not be ignored, Ms. Baxter says, nor could the tenuous link of the series to university business.
"It is a performing arts series on the campus of an educational institution," Ms. Baxter says, adding that no students performed in the productions.
Plus, money drained from the university's operating costs came from tuition paid by students.
After George Washington's takeover, it was agreed that the series had to gain a measure of self-sufficiency to be considered for long-term partnership, Ms. Baxter says. That never happened.
To hear Ms. Baxter tell it, little chance exists for the series to return to George Washington University, at least for the foreseeable future. Mount Vernon College's Hand Chapel, where In Series shows were held, already is booked for much of the fall with student productions, she says.
Virginia Freeman, director-choreographer for several In Series productions, says Miss Hubner's singular tastes makes the series worth savoring.
"It's a wonderful mix, and that's due to Carla with her international interests," says Ms. Freeman, who will continue her ties to the series. "She was one of the first to bring that kind of mix [to the city]."
Miss Hubner doesn't shy away from complicated pieces dabbling in foreign tongues.
"She wants the beauty of the language there — she hands out translations when needed," she says.
Ms. Freeman knows that a small arts company is likely to encounter difficulty trying to thrive, but she thinks the In Series has a solid enough track record to allay concerns.
"The fact that it [already] has made a name for itself bodes well for the future," she says. "[Audiences] will follow her wherever she goes because of the quality of her work. That's what's drawn me to her."
Miss Hubner won't discount eventually forging an alliance similar to what her group enjoyed with George Washington University. But for now, "the series will lead an independent existence," she says.
"We'll be a nomad for a while," she says. "I have no idea where independence will lead."
For more information about the upcoming season, call the box office at 202/237-9834 or www.inseries.org beginning Sept. 8.


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