The Emery Theatre is one of only four acoustically pure theaters in the country. Along with Orchestra Hall In Detroit and Orchestra Hall in Chicago, The Emery is a sister building to New York City’s legendary Carnegie Hall. It has played host to historic performances from George Gershwin, John Philip Sousa, Bette Davis, Arturo Toscanini, Fritz Reiner, Katherine Cornell, and Russian ballet dancers Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova. The Cincinnnati Symphony Orchestra called The Emery its home from 1912 to 1936. In recent years it has hosted many multi-disciplinary arts events including the 11.11.11 launch, Final Friday Art Shows, movie premiers, Midpoint Music Festival, theater productions, dance performances and more.
The Requiem Project, Inc. - The Requiem Project is a 501c3 not-for-profit arts company founded in 2008 to re-open The Emery Theatre as a venue for music, theatre, dance, film, visual arts, and arts-based programs.
University of Cincinnati (UC) - UC assumed control of the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute in 1969 and the Ohio Mechanics Institute’s obligations as trustee of the charitable trust that held the building (including the theatre).
Emery Center Apartment Limited Partnership (ECALP) - the Emery Center Apartment Limited Partnership, is a for-profit company. In 1999, ECALP leased the entire building from The University of Cincinnati and still holds a master-lease on the property.
Emery Center Corporation (ECC) - Emery Center Corporation (“ECC”) is an Ohio non-profit corporation that subleases the portion of the building containing the Theatre from ECALP.
WHAT HAVE UC, ECC AND ECALP DONE?
In the process of preparing for the lawsuit, here is what their attorneys discovered in their fact-finding:
The University of Cincinnati, a public institution operating with our taxpayer dollars, literally gave away a public [i.e. taxpayer-owned] building via a sweetheart $1-a-year 40-year lease to a private company [the Emery Center Apartments] along with almost $3 million [of our taxpayer] dollars while claiming they were just doing it so they can renovate the Emery Theatre.
This questionable deal enabled the private company to collect luxury apartment rents for 15 years in a publicly-owned building… thereby also evading Cincinnati city taxes (because university-owned buildings are exempt from property taxes).
Worse, along the way, UC actually allowed the developer to demolish and destroy the Emery’s bathrooms, balcony and stairs so they could build even more luxury apartments.
And oh by the way, close to $5 million taxpayer dollars disappeared into thin air and absolutely no renovations were ever performed. UC and the Emery Center Apartments management never re-opened the theatre. In fact, it is closed today without a plan to reopen (ever).
WHAT HAS REQUIEUM PROJECT DONE?
The Requiem Project had a binding agreement to lease the Emery Theatre in order to restore it. The people who control the building reneged for no cause and no reason, so Requiem Project is suing the owner of the building and their agents.
Requiem Project has hosted many multi-disciplinary arts events including the 11.11.11 launch, Final Friday Art Shows, movie premiers, Midpoint Music Festival, theater productions, dance performances and more. They have provided an invaluable service to our city through partnerships with the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, Starfire Council and many other community organizations.
Click here for a look at the first year of Requiem Project's programming at The Emery. Then consider that a small team of passionate individuals and generous volunteers made more happen in one year than UC, ECC and ECALP have done in decades.
LINKS AND MORE INFORMATION
This is only a part of the story. For more information on The Emery and this situation please read these sites:
The vision of a renewed Emery Theater could be revived by a ‘white knight’ developer
WCPO, January 23, 2015
Requiem Project Files New Suit Against UC over Emery Theatre
CityBeat, January 21, 2015
Emery Theatre supporters sue University of Cincinnati
WVXU, January 15, 2015
Is there a plan brewing to restore Emery Theatre?
Cincinnati Enquirer, January 15, 2015
Group brings new suit against UC over historic OTR theater
Cincinnati Business Courier, January 14, 2015
Emery Theatre legal battle: Nonprofit sues UC in new venue
WCPO, January 14, 2015
UC: Emery Theatre building should remain tax exempt
Business Courier, July 29, 2014
Lawsuit: Take Emery Theatre out of UC’s hands
Business Courier, October 16, 2013
Requiem Project Wants UC to Give Up Emery Building
CityBeat, October 16, 2013
Emery Theatre legal battle: Nonprofit wants UC out as theater owner, seeks damages
WCPO.com, October 16, 2013
Emery Center Mess — More Questions Than Answers
Express Cincinnati, September 2013
Cincinnati Public Schools to Ohio: Make Emery pay taxes
Business Courier, September 11, 2013
Requiem for The Emery Theatre?
Street Vibes, September 13–26, 2013
CityBeat, August 7, 2013
Nonprofit sues UC over Emery Theater renovation
Business Courier, August 5, 2013
Nonprofit sues over Emery Theatre restoration
Cincinnati Enquirer, August 4, 2013
Stand up and have your voice heard. Let the University of Cincinnati, Emery Center Corporation, and Emery Center Apartments Limited Partnership know that you value The Emery's history and its future as a cornerstone in the Cincinnati arts culture. Sign the petition and share it with everyone you know.
For the first time in decades The Emery has a chance of rebirth, and the four organizations who should be fighting the hardest to save the theatre are instead forced to fight each other.
UC, ECC, and ECALP are letting down the city and dishonoring the memory of Mary Emery. Please do the right thing.
Save The Emery Theatre!