- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The Corcoran Gallery of Art will spend about $23 million to assume the lease of a building in Southwest that houses the Millennium Arts Center (MAC) and to become a partner with the workshop and exhibition hall.
"We're working on a memorandum of understanding to establish a really good working relationship where we feel comfortable with investing about $23 million," said David C. Levy, president and director of the Corcoran.
MAC founder and director William Wooby said that he is delighted to have the Corcoran for a partner and looks forward to sharing space with Washington's oldest museum.
Mr. Levy said that the Corcoran will move some of its programs into the MAC facility by the fall while the museum undergoes renovation and while an addition designed by Frank Gehry is built. Construction at the Corcoran is to begin in 2004 and end by 2008.
The museum plans to move into the center its College of Art and Design; the Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran, a nonprofit group that presents experimental exhibits and directs artists in educational programs for the public; and Artreach, the Corcoran's outreach program that offers free art classes and mentoring for inner-city youths.
Mr. Levy said that none of the artists leasing space in the MAC will be displaced.
"There are about 18 artists there now, and we intend to increase the number to about 40 in the future," he said. "One of the big attractions for us is having space where professional artists and students can work together."
The Corcoran and the MAC will finalize an agreement soon, Mr. Levy added.
The museum will assume control of the nonprofit group that Mr. Wooby set up to lease the 150,000-square-foot facility at 65 I St. SW. The 10-year lease includes an option to buy.
The building began as Randall Junior High School in 1910 and later housed offices for a federal agency that improved the facility. The D.C. school board leased the building for the arts center in 1999.
"A homeless shelter and drug rehab program in one of the wings [of the building] came with the lease. There have been efforts to move the shelter elsewhere, and we will continue those efforts," Mr. Levy said.
"We also plan to have guards in the building so that its occupants will be safe."
He said that the Corcoran-MAC partnership will attract artists and art lovers and transform the Southwest area.
"We see the area as becoming a lively cultural center, with the possibility of the Capital Children's Museum moving there and the planned expansion of Arena Stage," he said. "This area of Southwest could become another Soho."

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