Five-and-a-half years after it opened, the Dallas Hub Theater has closed. Tim Shane, artistic director and executive director of Shane-Arts, opened the Hub in 2005. His jobs there included producer, director, actor and maintenance man, to name a few, has been busy moving the equipment out of the Deep Ellum space.
The building's owners put up "For Lease" signs on Wednesday, and Shane says there is already interest from several neighboring businesses.
The Hub was the home base of Shane-Arts, the umbrella group for Commedia dell'Carte, The Comedy Killers and SATER. When he opened the Hub with the help of actor Jeff Swearingen, Audacity Theatre Lab and Bootstraps Comedy Theater were the other resident companies. Audacity never performed there, though, and Bootstraps later moved to another space before its founder, Matt Lyle, moved to Chicago.
The Hub became the first home for myriad other local groups who have since moved on to new spaces, including Upstart Productions, Broken Gears Theatre Project, Muscle Memory Dance Theatres and Level Ground Arts. Included among the more than 30 companies that performed in either or both of the space's two 99-seat theaters are the Butterfly Connection, MBS Productions, DFW Playwrights Alliance, Dead Girl Circus, Velvet Kittens and Lollie Bombs.
"We called it the 'Hub" so we could develop shows there and send them out," says Shane. "The original concept was that all our shows could fit in the back of a pick-up truck and travel elsewhere."
Several shows that originated at the Hub ended up touring the country, including the hit Nipples to the Wind. The Hub was also home to the DFW Fringe Festival for five years, and Shane plans to continue producing that event elsewhere in town.
"It was one of the things that put us on the map," Shane says. "It gave a lot of performers here and outside of Dallas a shot."
Shane says he couldn't keep paying for the space, which was once called "The Money Pit" in a Dallas Observer story.
Shane estimates that since he began leasing the space in late 2004 (the first show didn't go up until April 2005), he has put about $1.5 million into it, including paying $12,000 monthly in rent. When there were problems with the air-conditioning or plumbing, he was often the person fixing them.
The Hub definitely had its problems—an unpleasant odor, a leaky roof and deadly heat that the air-conditioning units couldn't handle in August. Level Ground's summer 2010 production of Poseidon! An Upside-Down Musical, was a nightmare for the cast and audience, for instance. But it did provide an important launching pad for area artists.
Shane has been collecting stories about his experience at the Hub, which he hopes to turn into a book some day. He'll be sharing some of them on TheaterJones in the coming weeks and months.
And this doesn't mean that Shane-Arts is dead. The Comedy Killers have been performing in the Boiler Room in Deep Ellum, and Shane is looking for another spot to carry on his entertainment brand.
Shane talks about it all in this video.