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The Branson Regional Arts Council plans to convert the Historic Owen Theatre into a community arts center.
Photo provided by BRANSON REGIONAL ARTS COUNCIL
The Branson Regional Arts Council plans to convert the Historic Owen Theatre into a community arts center.

Branson Regional Arts Council to buy downtown theater

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The Branson Regional Arts Council is buying what’s billed as the city’s first theater.

The organization plans to convert the 1936-built Historic Owen Theatre into a venue for community theater and other arts-related programming. Declining to disclose the purchase price, Branson Regional Arts Council Executive Director Jim Barber said the organization agreed to pay less than $1 million for the theater.

“This new facility is going to allow us to do much, much more,” he said. “We’ll be able to do year-round programming, between community theater, our youth troop activities, specialized music concerts, lectures and film festivals.”

Under current owners Ron and Diane Mathes, the theater will continue showing its current productions, “A Neil Diamond Tribute” and “Carpenters Once More,” through the end of the year. The arts council is scheduled to take over in January.

Originally called the Hillbilly Theatre by founder Jim Owen, the theater is among 300 historic venues nationwide designed by architects Carl and Robert Boller of Kansas City. The Historic Owen Theatre is said to be one of the brothers’ only remaining theaters after many were demolished or renovated, according to the release.

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