Bloomington’s Waldron Arts Center now open for shows, including MLK-themed “The Mountaintop”

In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, the city of Bloomington announced that Bloomington’s Waldron Arts Center is open again for use as a visual and performing arts venue.

The facility was closed for a time after ownership of the facility reverted to Bloomington from Ivy Tech in 2020, and subsequent renovations were undertaken by the city.

The re-opening comes after a closure that has lasted around 21-months, which is about as long as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the recent surge in positive cases due to the Omicron variant of the virus, a reopening celebration planned for Friday, Jan. 7 will be rescheduled, according to Tuesday’s news release.

According to Tuesday’s release, through June of 2022, Bloomington will manage the Waldron, programming performances and exhibitions. Negotiations are underway for third-party long term management of the building beginning in July 2022, according to the release.

Among the performances set for the first half of the year is “The Mountaintop”—a play by Katori Hall, inspired by the final hours of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life. The Waldron will play host to the Cardinal Stage production of “The Mountaintop” for a three-week run in March.

The plan to renovate the Waldron was announced in mid-May of 2021, when Bloomington mayor John Hamilton pledged $515,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money to make the historic building again suitable as a performance and exhibition space.

Hamilton’s pledge was based on the recommendations in a task force report that was released in early May.

According to Tuesday’s release, among the renovations to the Waldron were upgrades to the building’s HVAC system to comply with Actors Equity Association requirements. Roof repairs were done, and tuck pointing on the north and west sides of the building was completed.

Also according to Tuesday’s release, all light fixtures were converted to LED, and water damage throughout the building was repaired.

As a part of the renovations, the building’s windows were restored in a historically accurate way, according to the release.

The Waldron is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Courthouse Square Historic District.

The window repairs were done by Vintage Window Restoration. Bloomington’s publicly-accessible  financial system shows four payments to Vintage Window for the Waldron work from mid-December through the end of the year totaling $99,855.98.


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