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MU, Missouri Symphony Society Reach Agreement to Lease Missouri Theatre

Aug. 25, 2011

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi,, 573-882-4430

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri Symphony Society (MOSS) and the University of Missouri have reached an agreement related to the future of the historic Missouri Theatre located in downtown Columbia and currently owned and operated by MOSS.  The university has agreed to lease and manage the Theatre with the option to purchase.

The university will pay $12,000 per month, which will come from the university’s campus rental account, to lease the Missouri Theatre for a period of three years. The campus rental account is used to secure physical space for the university’s needs. Following the end of the lease, the University has the option to buy the property for $3.7 million.

Because this is a lease only, approval by the University of Missouri Board of Curators would not be required. However, Board members have been briefed on the transaction. The Board would have to approve any purchase.

The Theatre is viewed by both organizations as a tremendous community asset as well as a valuable educational asset. MOSS will continue to use the Theatre for its offices and to house the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the Missouri Symphony Conservatory, the Plowman Chamber Music Competition and the Piano Showcase. MU will use the Theatre for School of Music events, some University Concert Series events, the Missouri Students Association, commencements, Summer Welcome, Greek Week and more.

The 1,732-seat Jesse Auditorium now averages 230 events per year and can no longer meet the increasing demand for its use. At the same time, MOSS has struggled to maintain the debt service on loans related to the renovation of the 1,216-seat Missouri Theatre, built in 1928 and renovated in 2008.

“The Missouri Theatre is a magnificent facility that has been nurtured with great care by the leadership and membership of the Missouri Symphony Society,” said Michael J. O’Brien, dean of MU’s College of Arts and Science. “As our music faculty seeks to provide the best learning environment for our students, the Missouri Theatre offers a venue that is very attractive and versatile, while enabling MU to avoid duplication of performance facilities already in existence right down the street.”

This agreement will put MOSS in a better position to focus on its core mission of enhancing and increasing cultural awareness of classical music in the community through professional performances, education of young musicians and preserving the Theatre.

“The Missouri Symphony Society Board is excited about the opportunities that will be offered through this agreement with the University,” said Carole Sue DeLaite, co-president of MOSS. “Its assistance in managing the Missouri Theatre will assure this local treasure is preserved and available as a community resource. This will strengthen MOSS and ensure the future vitality of the Society’s music programs such as Hot Summer Nights and our Conservatory.”

Since its founding in 1970, the Missouri Symphony Society (MOSS) has dedicated itself to providing musical performances of the highest caliber. The not-for-profit society has established a reputation for musical excellence and has continued to expand its audience through chamber music outreach and youth music education programs. Mid-Missouri’s only professional resident symphony orchestra, the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, was established by the Missouri Symphony Society and is composed of musicians from throughout the United States and around the world.