Dupont Underground, a nonprofit art venue located in abandoned trolley tunnels under Dupont Circle, is in talks to renew their venue lease, allaying previous concerns it would be forced to close.
Since October 2019, Dupont Underground’s management has been in discussions with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which is responsible for overseeing the property and the negotiations of the new lease. The most recent meeting between the art space’s management and DMPED occurred Feb. 24, according to Robert Meins, CEO of Dupont Underground.
Although contract and lease negotiations are still ongoing, Meins is optimistic that the new contract will soon be finalized.
“We’ve been in negotiations to see what works for us. In fact, there was a meeting today at Dupont, which we took to go over the final term sheet,” Meins said in an interview with The Hoya. “And that sets out the terms for what the final agreement will be.”
DMPED is in talks with Dupont Underground but would not elaborate on the details of the negotiation, according to Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio in a statement to ABC affiliate WJLA.
“We remain in active negotiations with the operators of the Dupont Underground to extend their operations despite nonpayment of rent,” Falcicchio said to WJLA. “Given the ongoing nature of those negotiations, public comment would not be prudent at this time. As we previously stated: We remain committed to keeping this unique space as an asset of the creative economy.”
Dupont Underground’s flexible space offers opportunities for diverse programming, according to Meins.
“When you see a space like this, you understand what its potential is. Anyone who comes down here sees that potential and it’s just a question of getting the right team and formula together,” Meins said to WJLA.
The venue is an accommodating space for aspiring and ambitious artists, according to Meins.
“When I first met with them, I said, ‘Look, I don’t have money, I don’t have an organization, I have this really ambitious exhibition that I want to put on in just 10 months and what do you think?’” Meins said in an interview with The Hoya. “Any other venues in the city would have said, ‘That’s ridiculous. Come back two years before you are gonna do something.’ Except Dupont Underground worked with me to make the exhibition possible.”
In addition to displaying art exhibitions, Dupont Underground hosts events like comedy showcases. Georgetown students Sahaj Sharda (SFS ’20) and Gary Simons (COL ’21) both performed at the venue’s “D.C.’s Best Young Comedians” showcase in September 2019.
Performing at Dupont Underground provided Simons with an introduction to the professional world of stand-up comedy, he wrote.
“To me, Dupont Underground will always be a reminder of my first professional stand-up show and what I am capable of as a performer,” Simons wrote in a statement to The Hoya. “After my first show there people from GW reached out to me to perform at their school and the organization that booked me for the first show kept asking me to perform again. By the end of last semester, I had done 4 stand-up shows.”
The venue is a great place to perform because of the unique space, which can accommodate a large audience, according to Sharda.
“It was my favorite gig to date. The rogue location and ambiance combined with the over 400 people who were comfortably seated in the audience led to a night that was an absolute blast,” Sharda wrote in a statement to The Hoya. “I personally loved the attitude of the venue.”