Give Back Cincinnati brings attention to Emery Theatre

Give Back Cincinnati and other interested volunteers gave Over-the-Rhine's historic Emery Theatre a much-needed cleaning on Saturday.

The theater, part of a complex erected in 1911 and once the home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, has gone unused since the American Theatre Organ Society vacated the space more than a decade ago.

"It's been abandoned for about ten years," says Kyle Snyder, communications director for Give Back Cincinnati.  "We just had this opportunity to bring attention to it.  It seemed like it had been forgotten."

Volunteer work involved painting, the cleaning of the theater's marble, seats, and stage, and the polishing of brass fixtures.

"In addition to getting the word out, we wanted to give it enough of a facelift that people would be able to see its potential," Snyder says.

With 1,700 seats and excellent acoustics, many consider the space to be perfect for mid-sized audiences.

"We hope that it's restored to a condition where you can actually have events," he says.  "The fine arts organizations already have their venues, but there are a lot of smaller groups who could share it."

The Emery Center complex is owned by the University of Cincinnati, with the Emery Center Corporation (ECC) holding a sublease for the theater.

Earlier this year, UC mandated the ECC to identify a viable manager and program for the theater "as soon as possible".

Beth Sullebarger of the ECC says that they currently envision a three-phased, $20 million dollar restoration that would restore the orchestra level seating by 2009 and restore the first and second balconies in time for the building's 100th anniversary.

The ECC will deliver a viable plan to UC by the end of this year.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: Kyle Snyder, communications director, Give Back Cincinnati; Beth Sullebarger, Emery Center Corporation
Photo by Kevin LeMaster
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