A dark cloud settles over the long-standing Murfreesboro Little Theatre (MLT) at 702 Ewing Blvd. in Murfreesboro. It came as shocking news on Friday to hear the doors to the facility have been closed. MLT is the oldest community theatre group in Murfreesboro, having served the community since 1962. They not only offer theatrical productions year-round, but also offer acting classes, an original writer's night, children's summer camps and a community improv group. The community doesn't want to see it go!
"The City of Murfreesboro owns the Playhouse property, which has been leased to the Murfreesboro Little Theatre since 2005," reports Friday's press release. "The City’s fire marshal and codes officials conducted a full inspection of the facility Friday, July 26." The result? Immediate closure.
“While the need for performing arts space in our community is obviously of great value and importance, the City cannot consciously allow a building deemed unsafe to be occupied nor does the City maintain confidence in the ability to resolve issues of non-compliance,” says Community Services Executive Director Angela Jackson. MLT was told to cease summer programs at the building effective immediately and all involved have been notified, including the kids enrolled in the summer camps over the weekend.
On a Facebook post on Saturday, July 27, MLT says, "The City considered the building condemned when we first came to the facility fourteen years ago. Throughout that time, Murfreesboro Little Theatre personally financed and revitalized this historic and cultural landmark, with a new roof, doors, insulation and more. All of this was accomplished with neither city nor state grants, but through the sweat, time and donations of MLT’s numerous members and volunteers."
The news of its closure has many families upset and many wanting to save the building. Memories were made there from the children and adults who performed on stage as well as the patrons who came out to see the shows. "Murfreesboro Little Theatre is more than a building," continues MLT's Facebook post. "We are a community and we will continue to serve as the longest running community theatre in Middle Tennessee, just as we have for the last 57 years."
“[MLT] has hosted many programs and community arts events over the years at this site, and a decision like this is never easy and is not taken lightly,” says Jackson. “However, the most important factor in our decision is public safety." She adds that the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department is to provide available space in the immediate future to accommodate MLT's children’s summer program and other community art events.
So, this gives hope that MLT is on the hunt for a solution. Where will they go from here? Incoming 2019-2020 President, Wayman Price, who has served on MLT’s board the last 16 out of 21 years either as Treasurer, PR, President or Past-President, tells us that MLT is to meet with the Mayor tomorrow (Tuesday, July 30) to determine the avenues that are open to them. So, as soon as we learn more, we will update the post.
Photo by MLT.