The commitment of Ivy Tech Community College to the Bloomington arts scene was the real headliner Tuesday at the rededication of the John Waldron Arts Center.
It was the college and its Bloomington chancellor, John Whikehart, that stepped forward with the plan that came to formal fruition this week with the dedication event. Ivy Tech purchased the historic structure, which was in jeopardy of closing, and will continue to operate it as an arts center. The 19,000-plus-square-foot building is home to two performing arts spaces and five galleries, as well as classroom and office space.
The value to Ivy Tech is at least two-fold.
First, it will provide space for Ivy Tech classes in the heart of downtown. The college has added 22 arts-related classes to its curriculum.
Second, it elevates even more the growing profile of Ivy Tech as a community asset, while brightening Ivy Tech’s spot on the educational spectrum in a city in which Indiana University typically gains the majority of the attention.
For the city, the rededication ensures the Waldron’s venue space will still be available for performance and visual artists on a range of levels; that arts education will have a hub outside of the schools; and that the arts have a very visible headquarters to remind local residents and visitors alike of the rich arts culture that exists in Bloomington.
Would Bloomington have a healthy arts scene without the Waldron? Absolutely. But with it, the scene is all the stronger. The facility’s rededication is something to celebrate.
Ted Jones, of Bloomington, peeks out the window of the main gallery at the newly dedicated Ivy Tech-John Waldron Arts Center in downtown Bloomington Tuesday after the dedication ceremony. Jones was on the Bloomington Area Arts Council when it first took over the building in the late 1980s. He designed the auditorium upstairs and the Firebay Theater downstairs at the arts center. Chris Howell | Herald-Times