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She said Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, planned to call board members again Thursday.

“We’ll see what happens after he talks to them,” she said.

The theater has six full-time employees and its board of directors is composed of volunteers. Its highest paid employee, executive director Eilene Lifsey, makes $80,000 per year.

Board members say their management is sound, their audits have come back clean and closure would harm economic development along U Street.

“We love this place, my kids come and perform here,” said Abdur-Rahim Muhammad, founder of the Hung Tao Choy Mei martial arts institute on U Street.

He said it unfair for a local treasure to go without a government subsidy, because it is a small operation that cannot afford a marketing team to drive up performance volume and attendance.

“I don’t think we can put it all at the feet of the staff there,” he said.

Council member Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat, tried to dedicate $500,000 to the theater during budget talks over the summer. In bold horse-trading from the dais, he asked a colleague to add the funding to an amendment that would reorder the council’s funding priorities if a windfall of revenue came in.

A revenue estimate in June did not provide enough money to cover Mr. Orange’s request for the Lincoln Theatre.

And when September revenues exceeded projections by some $89 million, council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said the money was needed to restore the city’s fund balance.

Supporters of the Lincoln Theatre say some of those funds should go toward their problems and not be stowed away.

“There’s too much need,” Mr. Graham said. “There’s too much at risk to do that.”