After nearly 30 years of dancing and teaching in New York and around the world, Columbia native Alan Lynes is back, ready to tackle his newest assignment: renovating the Missouri Theatre.
With work scheduled to begin in 2005, Lynes’ main focus for the next year is raising the $8 million to $10 million needed to remodel the 1920s-era theater.
“We will not start construction until we have raised the bulk of the money we need,” Lynes said. “Our new efforts will be a combination of events and individual donations. We’re looking for donors and possibly getting money from the city of Columbia.”
Renovations to the theater’s infrastructure, including computerizing the electrical and lighting systems, are the top priorities. The theater will also be made accessible under guidelines in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Lynes plans to upgrade the bathrooms and add a ramp and an elevator. Classrooms for the Columbia Art League and the Symphony Society also will be added.
“The building is structurally sound, but cosmetically, a lot needs to be reworked. The seats need to be restored, back to their original style,” Lynes said.
Since fund raising began in 2001, the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, a consortium of art organizations housed in the theater, has raised $500,000 for renovations. The theater group hired Lynes in August — the first staff the group has hired.
“We hired (Mr. Lynes) because he has done similar things in New York,” Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts president Susan Doroghazi said. “He helped form an art organization there and has experience in fund raising and renovating similar buildings.”
Lynes hopes that local organizations, such as the Kemper and Heinkel foundations, as well as banks and businesses, will donate to the cause.
“We’re going to meet with staff and board members and get information from them,” Lynes said. “We need to put together a local team to work on the theater.”
Lynes also hopes to secure $250,000 from the Columbia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s Tourism Attraction Fund, which is funded by hotel taxes and is available to organizations that draw people to Columbia from out of town.
Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the bureau’s Advisory Board will not make any immediate decisions on whether the Missouri Theatre project is eligible for the funds. Steiner added that whether or not the project will qualify for money will be depend on how the board decides to focus the funds. However, she said the renovations appear to be an appropriate use of the funds.
“I think (the Missouri Theatre) is a treasure, it’s an important part of Columbia’s history,” Steiner said.
Once the renovations are complete, Lynes hopes that gatherings such as teacher conferences and quilting guilds, which have the potential to draw participants from all over the state, will choose to hold conferences in the theater.
Lynes planned a trip to Sioux City, Iowa, and St. Joseph in December to look at similar 1920s-era theaters to get ideas for the Missouri Theatre’s renovations. The trip was canceled because of the weather but has been rescheduled for January.
Lynes is a graduate of Hickman High School. He studied political science at MU before transferring to Stephens College to study dance. He earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and dance from the State University of New York and later received a master’s degree in leadership in elementary education from Bank Street College before returning to Columbia.
Lynes danced for several New York companies, including the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. He also served as artistic director for the Sundance Company.