City of Omaha ends lease on Love’s Jazz & Arts Center, leaving nonprofit ‘shocked’ | Local News

The lease allowed the building to be used only as a jazz, cultural arts and humanities museum and performing arts complex. But city officials contended that three events last year violated that provision of the lease, according to a 2019 breach-of-lease letter released by the Mayor’s Office on Thursday. The letter to the Love’s Jazz board also asserted that the “building is not a cultural arts and humanities museum at this time” because there were only a few items on the walls related to jazz when a city official visited the center.

Love’s Jazz board members said Thursday that at least one of those three events, a New Orleans-inspired “Masquerade,” was a cultural event. They said there were multiple photographs of Preston Love and other jazz musicians on the walls. They said just one event had been problematic — out of dozens of performances, exhibits and educational events the center has hosted.

“We’ve never had anything that would be considered dangerous, no police calls, so to pick out one or two events from a history of longer than a decade, to me that says there’s a bigger issue,” Christian said.

The Mayor’s Office said the board had rejected a plan to reduce its operating costs and share the space with the newly formed North 24th Street Business Improvement District. The board has not provided its own plan, the city said.

The Love’s Jazz board did reject the city’s proposal, saying it was opposed to splitting up the building into bays when it had been beautifully designed and renovated for arts, performance and education programming. The board told the city that having to pay rent to the Business Improvement District would make the organization’s financial situation worse. The board asked the city to provide more financial support.