The City of Bloomington issued a Request for Qualifications seeking candidates for the management and operation of the city-owned John Waldron Arts Center, according to a press release Wednesday. Responses to the request are due by noon Aug.13 and information on materials needed for submission can be found 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,” Mayor John Hamilton said in the release. “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 Waldron currently consists of two performance venues in its auditorium and the Rose Firebay, two galleries on the main floor, space for four multi-purpose classrooms, two atrium spaces, four office spaces, storage spaces and studios for WFHB Community Radio.
The city’s request is meant to identify an entity that can manage the Waldron for no less than five years, embrace the facility’s users such as community artists, community art organizations and WFHB, conduct joint marketing efforts with shareholders, lead fundraising activities for the center, maintain the center’s structure and building systems and engage in community outreach for diversity and building audiences, according to the release.
Formerly a city hall building, the Waldron was a gallery space, performing arts hub, arts education center and the home of WFHB Community Radio from 1992-2020. Ivy Tech Community College previously held ownership of the building, which shifted back to the city in January.
Hamilton convened a task force in 2020 to look into potential further uses for the Waldron. The task force’s report recommended the continued use of the building as an arts center for the community, the designation of an entity to manage the Waldron, investment into deferred maintenance, upkeep and general maintenance of the facility over a five-year period.
The task force also found the Waldron to be in need of repairs for its air conditioning, the center’s roof, windows in need of replacement and more, totalling $515,185.
Improvements to the Waldron are expected to be completed by its Jan. 3, 2022 reopening date, according to the release.
Submissions from a range of business, financial, legal and organizational structures will be considered by the city, provided that the city retains ownership of the Waldron while the operator exclusively manages its day-to-day operations while being responsible for all costs associated with management and operation of the facility, according to the release.
A rally in support of the Waldron and thanking Hamilton for his actions with the center took place May. 23.