People holding picket signs lined the Monroe County Courthouse Square.
"Honk if you support the arts”
“City Support for Venues Now”
"Minimum Funding ≠ Adequate Funding"
These were just a few of the messages displayed on the signs.
About 70 people attended the Save Our Arts Venues Rally, which was organized by Arts Forward Bloomington according to their Facebook page, on Saturday.
The rally was originally meant to encourage the city government to dedicate $1.5 million to the John Waldron Arts Center and Buskirk Chumley Theater, according to AFB’s press release May 17.
Three days after AFB announced the rally, Mayor John Hamilton announced the city will invest about $515,000 to make necessary repairs to the Waldron.
Representatives of various local arts organizations took to the stage to thank the mayor for his support of the arts and to express how important arts venues, especially the Waldron and BCT, are to them.
The Bloomington Academy Film Theatre, WFHB and Voces Novae, were some of the groups in attendance.
Ken Buzzard, an AFB founder, said they organized the rally because AFB’s mission is to support the arts through public policy.
Buzzard said a critical point of the mayor’s announcement Thursday is the city will conduct a study to determine the possibility of building a downtown arts center.
“The one thing that we ask the city to do when establishing this committee is to hold a seat at the table for us,” Buzzard said.
Bloomington councilwoman Susan Sandberg did not attend the rally but wrote a statement of support for the arts for Sue Swaney, a voice instructor at the IU musical theater program, to read on her behalf.
“We owe you a place to perform,” Swaney said, reading the words of Sandberg. “We owe you the accommodations to rehearse. We owe you the stages and the gallery spaces and the forums to share your creativity with us. To the extent that I have any decision making power, I will continue to support you.”
Corey Hollinger, the production manager of Flowmotion Events, a local cirque, represented his organization.
“When the circus comes to town in Bloomington,” Hollinger said, “it comes to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, it comes to the John Waldron Arts Center to create a space where we can all return with childlike wonder. It is a stage full of ceaseless nonconformity, where we see, shining in the spotlight, the eternity of human curiosity.”
Hollinger said he can’t wait to take the next steps for the future of the arts with Bloomington.
The other speakers were Bob Kissel, stage manager at Bloomington Boogies; Kay Olges, member of Windfall Dancers; Gabe Gloden, managing director of Cardinal Stage and Joanne Shank, board member of the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington.
In the mayor’s announcement Thursday he said the Waldron will open after renovations Jan 3, 2022.