Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Sept. 1, 2011 Volume 33, No. 2

MU reaches agreement to lease Missouri Theatre, with option to buy


Venue will ease demands on Jesse Auditorium

The University of Missouri has reached an agreement to lease and manage Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia for three years, with an option to buy the historic property in 2014.

The university will pay $12,000 per month to lease the theatre, which is currently owned and operated by the Missouri Symphony Society (MOSS). Built in 1928, the 1,216-seat theatre was renovated in 2008. However, MOSS has struggled to pay down loans related to the renovation. The organization shut down the theater for a time and has also let go staff.

MU will use the theatre for School of Music events, some University Concert Series events, commencements and student-related programs, including Summer Welcome and Greek Week. The 1,732-seat Jesse Auditorium now averages 230 events per year and can no longer meet the increasing demand for its use.

Michael J. O’Brien, dean of MU’s College of Arts and Science, called the Missouri Theatre “a magnificent facility that has been nurtured with great care.

“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,” O’Brien said.

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.

Carole Sue DeLaite, co-president of MOSS, said the not-for-profit organization will continue efforts to expand its audience through chamber music outreach and youth music education programs. The Missouri Symphony Orchestra is the region’s only professional resident symphony orchestra and is composed of musicians from around the world.

DeLaite said the agreement with MU will put the society 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, the education of young musicians and by preserving the theatre.

“The Missouri Symphony Society Board is excited about the opportunities that will be offered through this agreement with the University,” DeLaite said “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.”

After three years, MU will have the option to purchase the theatre for $3.7 million. The lease, which will be funded by a campus rental account used to secure physical space for the university, does not require approval by the UM Board of Curators. Curators would have to approve the purchase.