Ohio University Dean of Fine Arts Margaret "Peg" Kennedy-Dygas
May 19, 2014
Dear Alumni and Friends:
This message is to communicate an important decision that has been reached regarding Ohio University's lease with the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham, Mass. Earlier today, President Roderick J. McDavis informed the owners of the Monomoy Theatre that Ohio University will not be renewing its lease of the property beyond Dec. 31, 2014. This decision will not impact the 2014 season which will open on June 17, with the beloved musical, "Kiss Me Kate," and will include 23 Ohio University students and 3 faculty members.
Ohio University has been extremely proud of the summer theater program that has existed at Monomoy for the past 57 years. The property was originally purchased by President and Mrs. John C. Baker in 1958 in order to establish a summer theater program through Ohio University's then School of Theater. The Ohio University Players at Monomoy have presented outstanding productions for decades in Cape Cod, supported not only by Ohio University but also by many donors, the Friends of Monomoy, and in recent years, contributions from the University of Hartford. Attendance has been robust, and the Monomoy Theatre is beloved by many residents of Cape Cod.
Many supporters do not realize that the property has never been owned by Ohio University, but is rather owned by the heirs and descendants of President and Mrs. Baker. The buildings on the grounds of Monomoy are very old and in poor condition. The terms of the lease and upcoming major renovations necessary for the safety of students and staff represent enormous obligations for the leasee, Ohio University.
The potential major investment of funds in a property not owned by Ohio University, and lying far outside its normal service range, represents a situation that would cost the College of Fine Arts and Ohio University a great deal of money without the hope of ever realizing a return on that investment. Moreover, the magnitude of the costs necessary to continue our program at Monomoy would mean severe shortage of funds for our programs on the Athens campus, which is not an acceptable arrangement. This is the fundamental reason for the decision not to renew the lease.
At the same time that this difficult decision regarding Monomoy has been reached, a new partnership opportunity is emerging. As you know, Ohio University has established a new campus in Dublin, Ohio, on land donated by the City of Dublin. Dublin is one of the fastest growing urban areas in Ohio and is culturally rich. The City of Dublin has a strong affinity for Ohio University, and its civic leaders are extremely interested in partnering with Ohio University in areas besides medicine. In particular, they are very interested in our expansion of appropriate arts programs into the community of Dublin. Therefore, we have moved into a visioning conversation about the Division of Theater founding an associated professional resident theater company in Dublin, being housed eventually in a possible future performing arts center there. We will be moving forward this summer with the conversation in order to explore methods of preliminary planning with appropriate city officials, the Dublin Arts Council, and the Dublin City School District.
I know that these changes will be very difficult for many of you who have invested much in our theater programs and in Monomoy. We look forward to celebrating the outstanding history of our program, the leadership of Alan Rust, and the unprecedented support of the Friends of Monomoy during the Ohio University Players' final season this summer. In particular, we look forward to the New England Alumni Chapter's Monomoy Weekend at the end of June as a celebration of our historical relationship with the Monomoy Theatre. Decisions about the future of Monomoy Theatre as a presenting venue will lie in the hands of the owners in dialogue with stakeholders in the east coast region, and Ohio University will be honored to assist with any appropriate transition.
Margaret "Peg" Kennedy-Dygas
Ohio University Dean of Fine Arts