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Artistic director hired for Waldron

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 |
August 3, 2010

An Indiana University graduate and veteran actor has been named artistic director of the John Waldron Arts Center in downtown Bloomington.

Paul Daily, 34, returns to Bloomington from New York City, where he recently won the “Outstanding Lead Actor” award for the Planet Connections Theater Festival earlier this summer.

He will wear multiple hats in his new position, however, according to Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart. “We have several goals for the Waldron, including eventually putting our for-credit art and art-related classes there,” Whikehart said.

“We want to be expanding our art and art enrichment classes there,” he said. “And we also want to continue the tradition of providing performing spaces for our performing artist friends as well as gallery areas for our visual arts friends.

Julie Roberts, a former Owen Valley Middle School art teacher, is the Waldron’s new gallery director.
Daily, who earned a theater and drama degree from IU in 1998, said he began his new position July 1 and immediately began reaching out to groups that had used the Waldron performing spaces in the past. Those organizations include the Cardinal Stage Company, Monroe County Civic Theater, Windfall Dancers and the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival. “It’s my job to make and grow the connections with the performing arts groups, other theaters in town and also Indiana University,” Daily said.

“One of my goals is also to make the spaces more attractive and welcoming for not only performing artists but the people who come here,” he said.

The Waldron Arts Center had declined under the management of the Bloomington Area Arts Council in recent years and had cut back its hours of operation, relying on volunteers to remain open early this year. The city of Bloomington purchased the facility from the BAAC for $150,000 and then sold it to Ivy Tech Community College, which promised to invest a half-million dollars in the former city hall.

Daily said discussions with community groups that formerly used Waldron space have gone well and the groups have been pleased that some new fee structures that were greatly increased to keep the BAAC afloat have been scaled back.

“We come in well under what BAAC was asking for at the end,” Daily said. “We are slightly higher than what the Waldron was charging a couple of years ago, but we think we’re quite reasonable.”

In 2005, Daily was a co-founder of the Brooklyn-based Rabbit Hole Ensemble, an acting company. While he acknowledged, with a chuckle, that Bloomington is not New York, he said “What we’re charging for a week in the Waldron auditorium would be about half of what one night in a similarly sized space in New York would cost.”
Whikehart said he’d like to see Daily work with what he described as a fledgling drama club at Ivy Tech. “Paul would like to work with our students to develop their own theater company,” he said.

Daily said he expects to direct at least one show each “season” for Ivy Tech’s nascent theater group. He said he’d also like to see some theater courses eventually added to the Ivy Tech course catalog.

The Rabbit Hole Ensemble he helped create in New York focused on minimal production values such as costuming and sets, and an emphasis on acting skills. “That’s what I would like to do here,” he said. “Focus on the acting.”

Paul Daily is the new director of the Waldron. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Julie Roberts is the new gallery director. H-T file photo

Copyright: 2010