New equipment at local theater to encourage creativity



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Danielle McClelland, the director of Buskirk-Chumley Theater, spoke in front of media representatives about the installation of 260 thousand dollars worth of equipment Wednesday evening. Simin Zhang Buy Photos

Multicolored spotlights pulsed and danced to the beat of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” Wednesday afternoon at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as the staff demonstrated their recently installed $260,000 worth of equipment.

In late 2014, the tax increment financing fund that had previously been used for maintenance of the theater was re-interpreted to no longer apply to the Buskirk-Chumley, executive director Danielle McClelland said.

In 2015, however, McClelland said the TIFs were reactivated. The theater received $260,000 from the downtown TIF District consolidation and bond initiative to update and expand its use to better serve Bloomington residents.

“All of this equipment that we have installed over the last year is for you and your use in this space, and its design and implementation is so that we can have larger capacity in our community and in this theater,” McClelland said. “We were very nervous that we would not be able to continue the growth of this space, and we are thrilled that we were able to do so.”

McClelland said the installation of the new equipment included swapping one third of the standard theater lights in the building for LEDs, allowing for computer-controlled moving lights and improved color onstage for approximately one third of the previous energy usage. LED lights can change color themselves, compared to the previous set-up in which multiple lights with different color gels were used for every part of the stage.

The theater also completely revised its sound system, McClelland said. The old speaker stacks, which were over 20-years-old and took up precious stage space, were replaced with hanging line array speakers, technical director David Desante said.

“With our previous system, you’d have this drop-out of sound,” Desante said. “It wouldn’t sound as crisp or you’d lose the bottom end or it’s not as even, so now it’s a nice even field no matter what seat you’re sitting in. Now there’s no bad seat in the house.”

The final component of the new technology is a brand new cinema system, one of which the Buskirk-Chumley has never had to call its own, McClelland said. After years of borrowing, first from IU and then from the First United Methodist Church, the theater has a 2K digital cinema projector, a digital cinema processor and multi-lens switcher. They also bought a perforated update from their more than 15-year-old current screen for brighter visuals and clearer sound.

Despite all of the improved equipment, the rental price of the theater will not go up, McClelland said. The theater provides an arts startup program, which funds several projects annually and has a movie partner program, which allows anyone to rent the theater for a film event on Sundays for only the cost of labor and projection equipment without the usual rental fee. These and other programs allow the public to benefit from the improved technology without an extra financial burden, McClelland said.

“It’s our effort to help new organizations and new events go from dream to conception to execution here at the theater,” McClelland said.

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