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Thursday, Oct 02, 2014

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Monomoy Theatre

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OHIO's strategic planning efforts include non-renewal of Monomoy Theatre lease


For 57 years, Ohio University has appreciated the rich theatrical experience afforded through its partnership with the Monomoy Theatre, the City of Chatham, Mass., and, more recently, the University of Hartford. This partnership was enabled by the generosity of Ohio University President Emeritus John Calhoun Baker and Mrs. Elizabeth Baker, whose purchase and lease of the property has achieved important academic opportunities for students and faculty in the Theater Division.

Based on the impact that Monomoy Theatre has made on generations of Ohio University graduates, Ohio University is seeking to expand the opportunities for students and faculty in its Theatre Division. Theatre Division faculty have expressed support for an in-resident program that is geographically closer to the Athens campus. These recommendations, current strategic priorities, and potential opportunities through the new central Ohio extension campus have guided strategic planning efforts. With the current lease for Monomoy Theatre expiring at the end of this year, Ohio University leadership, in consultation with the College of Fine Arts and Theater Division faculty, has reached a difficult decision.

The University has decided not to renew its lease of the Monomoy Theatre, which expires on Dec. 31, 2014 for academic and budgetary reasons. The College and Division believe that shifting resources to support other resident theater opportunities for students and faculty closer to Ohio University would make better use of resources and expand the positive experience provided by the University’s Theater Division program.

On Friday, May 16, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis notified the owner of the theatre that the University would not renew its lease agreement. Later that day, Dean of the College of Fine Arts Margaret Kennedy-Dygas informed the college's faculty and staff and the Theater Division alumni of the decision.

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit explained that while the future of the theater program will likely include expansion into central Ohio, the decision to end the longstanding relationship with Monomoy will allow a re-visioning of how the theater faculty and students work with other professional theater companies as well.

“The redirection of financial resources that were required to keep Monomoy in operation will be used to develop other significant professional experiences for our students,” said Benoit.

With the University administration's support, the College of Fine Arts and its faculty in the Theater Division will explore potential opportunities that dovetail with the establishment of Ohio University’s new extension campus in Dublin.

“The most important investment we make is in our students. Just as Ohio University served theater students 57 years ago by establishing an historic partnership with Monomoy Theatre, so today Ohio University is called to be a steward in a new age with new challenges,” said Dean Margaret Kennedy-Dygas. “The School of Dance, Film, and Theater has a rich tradition of excellence that can meet those challenges by serving more students, alumni and friends through a potential new partnership right here in Ohio.”

Kennedy-Dygas added, “It is with deep appreciation for the Baker family for their support and generosity; the City of Chatham for opening its arms to us and welcoming Ohio University's students and faculty as part of its summer season; for Alan Rust, the artistic director of the program who built the legacy to what it is today; the University of Hartford for joining us as a partner in this theatre program; and the Friends of the Monomoy Theatre, patrons, alumni, and attendees for making our time with the summer theatre program a memorable success and partnership over our 57-year connection.”

The University plans to honor its relationship with its many partners during the course of the 2014 season. This includes many special events during the University’s annual Monomoy weekend, June 27 to 29. Ohio University also is planning to honor the Friends of the Monomoy Theatre at an event to be announced.

The information contained in this message was submitted by the Ohio University Office of the President.