Playhaus DC is expanding the parameters of what a collaborative workspace looks like for artists, multi-hypenates, and creative souls alike.
Playhaus DC is an experiential, experimental popup located in Union Market and is the brain child of Maria Bastasch and Ashley Jaye Williams of Disco Mary Collective. Playhaus goes beyond the traditional by focusing on fostering community through fine art, workshops, and unique retail experiences.
The space that Playhaus calls home is limitless. You can drop by for a creative coworking session, capture content amid performative instillations, attend a yoga class, or seek an escape to color on some walls. The secret sauce is an arts-centric framework that benefits not only artists but also the curious D.C. community, creating a trendy pathway to “patron of the arts” status.
“The ultimate goal was to find a space that would allow working artists to not only gather and meet one another, but also have a framework [for a] high quality of life and support themselves,” says Disco Mary’s food and beverage expert and designer extraordinaire Maria Bastasch.
“You have large swaths of the community that don’t feel like they have been given permission to tap into their creative selves,” she says. “The reality is that everyone has a part of themselves that is imaginative. We’re born with it. So there is this opportunity to serve to needs within a community whereby artists can have be valued financially, and people who feel like they don’t have a creative sides of themselves can start to safely dip their toe in the water.”
Wondering what a toe-dip in the waters of Playhaus looks like? It’s as simple as the name: play. When you walk into the high-ceiling space, there are artists on the move, creating everything from murals to textiles. A communal table laying out art supplies, a curated rack of vintage fits, and inflatable furniture, invites you to noodle on hopes and dreams, discover something new, or simply absorb your surroundings. About a dozen “micro residencies” made up of multi-disciplinary artists, curators, healers, builders, performers, designers, and entrepreneurs provide a wide variety of programming.
In ideation, Bastasch wanted to contribute to an industry in which her food and beverage expertise overlaps. “There’s a real misalignment- a hole if you will, in the market,” she says. “You have this [arts] industry that is providing this tremendous value to society, and they are not properly compensated for the value that they’re bringing.”
Fellow collaborator and Disco Mary artist Ashley Jaye Williams adds to that, as some of these shared challenges are ones they and Bastasch hope to improve upon with their new space.
“As a full-time Artist, it has been incredibly difficult to find an art studio space in D.C. that is even close to affordable and that isn’t the size of a closet, where I could have flexible space to make the art I wanted to make. Why is it so idealistic or ridiculous to want an art space that prioritizes actual imagination and is also equitable for artists? Why can’t there be a shared art space in D.C. that also allows the artists to sell their work exactly HOW they want to, without being forced to conform to standardized sales tactics?”
Williams wasn’t the only artist stifled by the gatekeepers of physical space. Bastasch too shared a similar desire for a singular location in which she could orchestrate a variety of experiential events. Thus the inception of Playhaus came to fruition, encapsulating Williams’ realization that, “My ideas were not ‘too much,’ I was just dealing with people whose imaginations were too little.”
Imagination flourishes at Playhaus — not only as a haven for artists, but to accommodate performances, gatherings, and immaculate vibes for passers-by. Check out Playhaus in the Gables (across from Dock 5) at Union Market, and look forward to upcoming “procrastination happy hour,” film screenings, and special workshops Tuesday-Saturday 12-7 p.m. and Sunday 11-6 p.m.
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