Eric Rasch, with a view of the atrium in the background. Photo by Elenilson Ayala.
Community groups, non-profit organizations and other entities looking for affordable spaces to hold meetings or other events are increasingly looking at the Silver Spring Civic Building to meet their needs.
Use of the building is open to everyone, not just county residents, according to Eric Rasch, operations manager for the building.
“There’s three different categories, though, for folks, and that’s where the residency factor comes into play,” he said.
Rates vary for each category, which include Montgomery County non-profits, Montgomery County residents and out-of-county and commercial users. Rentals run as low as a subsidized $25 per hour for a non-profit renting a small conference room to $450 per hour for a commercial or out-of-county group who wants to use the Great Hall.
Prices also vary depending on whether the event is held during the week or on the weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday), which also requires a four-hour minimum rental period. There are additional charges if the group needs to use the warming kitchen, requires a service worker, security officer or event monitor, as well as services such as audio/visual in the Great Hall.
“You can [reserve space] via email if you wanted to,” Rasch said. “We do prefer in person. We want to make sure we talk to folks about the event, ask them questions, they ask us questions so everybody’s comfortable [and] there’s no surprises.”
Most of the users are from within the county and there’s a great balance of non-profits, community groups, county users (for town halls, presentations and so forth) as well as commercial groups, which tend to hold larger events such as conferences, Rasch said.
There also is a Community Access Program, or CAP, “open to non-profits and community groups that help to serve the county,” Rasch pointed out. The program has been funded each fiscal year since 2013. The CAP works like a grant application that a group can submit to a review committee that reviews each application and determines an award, which is typically anywhere from 20 to 80 percent of the cost to rent the space.
“It’s been highly successful,” Rasch said. “Non-profits and community groups love it. It helps to serve the mission of the civic building.”
Last fiscal year, more than 80 groups were awarded CAP grants, he added.
As anyone who spends much time in downtown Silver Spring can attest, a number of groups also hold events out doors on Veteran’s Plaza. A group can rent the covered pavilion half, the uncovered half, of the full plaza. Again, there is a three-tiered rate structure, similar to the indoor spaces, with higher rates on the weekend.
Certain other conditions can apply, such as various requirements to use the atrium or the courtyard, insurance, which civic build staff can help to arrange, and so forth, but the application itself is a simple one-page form.
For more information about renting space in the building or on the plaza, contact Rasch at 240.777.5308 or [email protected]