The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Monday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City of Bloomington Releases Arts Feasibility Study Report
Bloomington, Ind.–The City of Bloomington, in partnership with Trahan Architects, has released recommendations to advance the arts across the city. The study was recommended by the 2021 Waldron Recommendations Task Force and was part of the Recover Forward initiative to help the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Trahan coordinated a Study Team to investigate the need for a new facility to accommodate the City’s burgeoning arts community and explore potential non-facility-based programs and initiatives to develop Bloomington as a purpose-built arts community.
Based on extensive public input and analysis, the Study Team made several key recommendations:
Retain the Waldron Arts Center as a Core Asset– The Study Team assessed the Waldron Arts Center as a local arts community asset that provides a niche for performance and visual arts in the Bloomington market. They recommend that the facility should remain open and operated by Constellation Stage & Screen as long as it remains of value to the community.
Increase Community programming and downtown and neighborhood activation– The Study Team recommends the creation of several programs to enhance resident and visitor experiences of the arts in Bloomington, including educational programs with a focus on youth and K-12 individuals and grant programs that help local artists partner with local groups to create new works of public art downtown and in underserved neighborhoods. The Study Team also recommends the creation of a centralized communication platform to promote local events and resources and opportunities for local artists.
No new Arts Performing Arts Center- Based on the extensive inventory identified in Bloomington and surrounding areas, the Study Team does not recommend a new standalone performing arts center. Bloomington already has numerous venues of varying sizes to accommodate most activities and audience capacities, far beyond what most cities its size would. Bloomington does not have the population size or expected growth to support adding another major standalone performing arts center at this time.
Create an arts and culture incubator– The Study Team proposes that the city consider creating an arts and culture incubator to address the shortage of affordable maker spaces and to facilitate community and convening among Bloomington’s arts community. The incubator would foster new models for social interaction with the community that transcend the traditional boundaries of art, performance, and social practice.
Integrate arts and culture into a proposed expanded convention center– The Study Team recommends that an expanded convention center be considered as another asset to showcase local artists. Murals, sculptures, performance venues, and galleries could easily be incorporated into the design and programming to showcase Bloomington artists’ talent to a broader audience.
“These recommendations outline an exciting path forward to accelerate and enhance the deep and strong arts focus of Bloomington,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “I want to thank the many people who have helped chart this future, and encourage us all to join in and help make the vision a reality. This study tells us that Bloomingtonians are eager for more investment in the arts, and more programs and spaces for creative communities to thrive.”
The City of Bloomington has begun taking steps to initiate many of the programmatic and facility-based initiatives and plans to release details of each in early 2023.
The Study Team’s recommendations are based on the work of a team of experts from entities led by Trahan Architects and including Springpoint Architects, Keen Independent, and Designing for Democracy, to ensure that the study was inclusive of all Bloomington residents and that their recommended strategies are equitable. From March to August 2022, the team visited over 20 arts facilities, and conducted in-person and virtual workshops with nearly 100 individuals. They also polled residents’ opinions on local arts using a blank survey, which garnered 470 responses (bloomington.in.gov/news/2022/04/04/5146).
Questions and report feedback can be directed to Holly Warren, Assistant Director for the Arts [email protected].
The ownership of the Waldron reverted to the City of Bloomington in January 2021 following its use by Ivy Tech Community College as classroom, performance, and display space since 2010.
At the recommendation of the community-led Waldron Task Force (bloomington.in.gov/news/2021/05/06/4840), the City committed $515,000 for capital improvements to address deferred maintenance on the facility as part of the Recover Forward initiative to help the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. After reopening and managing the facility from January – June 2022, the City entered a five year agreement with Constellation Stage & Screen to allow the new theater and film company to manage the daily operations of the John Waldron Arts Center for five years (bloomington.in.gov/news/2022/08/08/5262).
About Trahan Architects
Trahan Architects was founded on the belief that the mindful design of everyday spaces can elevate the human experience. It is a multi-disciplinary firm with projects that include the renovation of the Caesars Superdome (formerly the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) in New Orleans; the Coca-Cola Stage at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia; and the recently announced Asian American Resource Center Performing Arts Center in Austin, Texas. They have received over 100 national, regional and local awards, as well as several international design competitions, including five National AIA Awards. Learn more about Trahan Architects at trahanarchitects.com.
About Recover Forward
Recover Forward is a multi-year initiative to help our community rebound and thrive as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving toward greater racial, economic, and climate justice as we do so. More than $15 million has been approved to date by the City Council for critical investments. Recover Forward Bloomington includes $9 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and $6 million from City reserve funds. Learn more at bloomington.in.gov/recoverforward.