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Missouri Theatre shared inventory seen as advantage to MU

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | 4:02 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — MU's lease agreement with the Missouri Symphony Society for the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts shows the university is getting much more than an additional concert space.

As part of the lease agreement, ownership of more than 335 pieces of equipment will be transferred to MU, including more than 180 musical instruments and audio components.

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In August, MU entered into a three-year lease agreement with the Symphony Society to lease the theater for $12,000 per month. The deal includes an option for MU to purchase the theater at the end of the term for $3.7 million.

The university also will have access to nearly 300 more items that the Symphony Society will continue to own. The equipment now available to MU includes staging and audio elements, lighting, computers, shop tools and theater furnishings.

The musical equipment transferred to MU for at least the duration of the lease is in exchange for rent associated with the Symphony Society's office space in the theater, said John Murray, assistant director of business services and building coordinator for Jesse Auditorium. Murray now also oversees MU's use of the Missouri Theatre.

Symphony-quality instruments are very valuable, said Kevin Bucklew, general manager of Palen Music Columbia. At the Missourian's request, Bucklew reviewed a list of the musical instruments included in the deal.

He said that if they are new, the instruments alone could be worth more than $210,000 — not including the value of the theater's restored Robert Morgan theater organ.

Percussion instruments and equipment make up most the transferred instruments. But those items are well below symphony-quality, said Julia Gaines, associate professor of percussion in MU's School of Music.

"We bring over most of our (drums) from MU just to make sure we are playing on good equipment," Gaines said. "A few instruments of theirs we won’t even use because they are so bad."

Murray explained the shared equipments and instruments gives his staff "efficiency of scale" by expanding the inventories of both Jesse Auditorium and the Missouri Theatre. Because both venues have the ability to share inventories, Murray's staff can save time and money by sharing equipment that would previously need to be rented, like specific models of microphones.

"It's just another example of how, by operating two buildings that are similar but different, we will be able to operate much more efficiently," Murray said.

That efficiency applies to the School of Music, too, cutting out time transporting instruments and setting up for rehearsals, said Robert Shay, the school's director.

"It's a convenience, and we'll certainly take advantage of that opportunity," Shay said.

Starting in 2014, MU may exercise the option to buy the property for $3.7 million, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. That price tag is fixed and is the result of negotiation between MU and the Symphony Society, he said. That would require an appraisal evaluating the property's value before needing approval of the UM System Board of Curators. According to the terms of the lease, MU is not required to purchase the property.

"I really think this deal is another great example of how this cooperative arrangement works out for all parties involved," Murray said.


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