Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the City of Bloomington. Bloom has republished it here with edits for style and clarity.
The City of Bloomington has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the management and operation of the John Waldron Arts Center. The City seeks to identify an entity to manage the City-owned facility as an arts center for no less than five years, embrace the facility’s core users (including WFHB, community artists, and arts organizations), conduct joint marketing efforts with these stakeholders, lead fundraising activities, maintain the structure and its building systems, and actively pursue community outreach for diversity and to build audiences. Responses to the RFQ must be submitted by noon on Friday, August 13. An information packet describing the RFQ and materials to be submitted may be accessed here.
“As we all deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, investing in our hard-hit signature arts sector is vital to Bloomington’s economy and quality of life,” says Mayor John Hamilton. “The Waldron has played a key role in the ecosystem of our arts community and our dynamic downtown. We invite proposals that will allow the Waldron to nurture our arts organizations and amplify their success.”
The former City Hall building at 122 S. Walnut served the community as a performing arts center, gallery space, arts education center and home of WFHB Community Radio from 1992 through 2020. Ownership of the circa-1915 Beaux Arts limestone building reverted from Ivy Tech Community College to the City of Bloomington in January 2021. The decision to continue operating the Waldron as a community art center and to designate an entity to manage it emerged from a report created by a community task force convened by Mayor Hamilton to provide recommendations for the future of the building. Also recommended by the task force, the City will invest more than $500,000 to cover deferred maintenance of the facility, upkeep, and general maintenance over the five-year period. The City expects initial capital improvements to be completed by a January 3, 2022 reopening date. The full report may be accessed here.
The City will consider submittals that include a broad range of business, financial, legal and organizational structures, provided that the City shall retain ownership of the Waldron. The Operator will exclusively manage the day-to-day operations of the Waldron and will be responsible for all costs associated with such management and operation.
The Waldron, as currently configured, houses two performance spaces—the auditorium (capacity 170) and the Rose Firebay (capacity 70)—and two main floor galleries. It also has the capacity for four multi-purpose classrooms, two common atrium spaces, four offices, numerous storage spaces, and recording and broadcast studios for WFHB Community Radio. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Courthouse Square Historic District.