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Ivy Tech dedicates the Waldron as its new downtown arts facility

By Bethany Nolan
331-4373 |
September 14, 2010

With a flourish of blue velvet ribbon and giant scissors, officials unveiled the new Ivy Tech-John Waldron Arts Center Tuesday afternoon.

The community college bought the Waldron, at 122 S. Walnut St., from the city of Bloomington for $1 in May. The arts center had floundered under its previous management, the Bloomington Area Arts Council. The city purchased the facility from the BAAC for $150,000, and later sold it to Ivy Tech.

“The legal documents talk about restrictions of use, that they be cultural and artistic. That doesn’t restrict us at all,” Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart told people squeezed into the building’s lobby for the event. “That’s our mission.”

City council president Isabel Piedmont-Smith spoke, calling the reopening of the facility a “proud moment” for both the city and Ivy Tech. And Mayor Mark Kruzan spoke as well, saying the partnership represents opportunity for the city, for downtown and for Ivy Tech.

The facility still smelled of fresh paint Tuesday and, while visitors milled about, a beginning guitar class was being conducted in one of the downstairs classrooms.

Signs were posted at entrances to gallery and performing arts spaces, some explaining the building’s history as Bloomington’s first city hall. One sign dispelled the myth of a secret passageway connecting the building to the courthouse some believed was used to transport prisoners, saying the only connection was an underground heating duct too small for people to traverse.

“It’s always been a great building,” Bloomington resident Melissa Carter-Goodrum said. “I’m glad to see it’s still being used, and for art in a variety of forms.”

Whikehart said the community college has added 22 arts-related classes to its program due to the additional space available through the Waldron. In addition, he said, Ivy Tech reconfigured gallery space at the building and has launched the “Waldron 2010-11 Season” for the performing arts. A calendar of that season handed out Tuesday includes events by Cardinal Stage Company, Indiana University Dance Theatre, Monroe County Civic Theater and Theatre of the People.

Whikehart said the community college invested $150,000 in purchasing the building’s equipment inventory, and has spent or will spend $40,000 on new chairs for the auditorium, $50,000 on lighting and $40,000 for new risers. It also did other work to make the building handicapped-accessible and compliant with current building code, he said, adding revenue brought in by the venue will be reinvested into the building.

The Ivy Tech Waldron has 19,366 square feet of space and includes two performing arts spaces and five galleries. Plans for the future include refurbishing lobbies on the top two floors, upgrading the building’s exterior and installing a green roof.
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
Eliza Erxleben, center, an assistant director of student advising at Ivy Tech Community College, lets her son, Lorenz Conrad, 2, play with one of the sand and stone exhibits during the dedication ceremony Tuesday at the Ivy Tech- John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington. Chris Howell | Herald-Times