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Bloomington Civic Plaza

Artful amenities renewal

More space needed for Bloomington Center for the Arts programs

It’s no secret Bloomington has a strong, well-established arts community. For 16 years, the Bloomington Center for the Arts has housed seven arts groups with an array of quality programming that serves a diverse community. As the arts thrive in Bloomington, the Center for the Arts needs an update to keep up with increasing demands. For nearly two years, the City and resident arts organizations have explored potential improvements to the Center for the Arts in Civic Plaza, 1800 West Old Shakopee Road.

The Schneider Theater, Black Box Theater, Inez Greenberg Gallery and other venues in the center bring together artists and audiences. The seven arts organizations that use the Center for the Arts have outgrown the space, especially for concerts, theater performances and rehearsals.

“The arts are flourishing in Bloomington and groups are already in a position to have more performances and poised to grow,” Center for the Arts Manager Jim Urie said. “We’re maxed out here.”

The 70-member Medalist Concert Band and others vie for time and space in the current 32,000-square-foot facility. Rehearsals and even performances often have to be held in other places because of space limitations.

“The ability to rehearse and perform in the same space and to learn the acoustics of the space would help our artistic quality,” Medalist Band Music Director Jerry Luckhardt said. “It raises the bar and makes everything better as we strive for more professionalism in our work. More space for rehearsals, audience seating and even storage would be a step in the right direction.”

Other groups share the need for Center for the Arts expansion. Angelica Cantanti wants to expand their choirs, but does not have space to do so. Currently, the group has more than 300 singers across six choirs.

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra only gives one Center for the Arts performance yearly but would like to do more. The small size of the stage makes a tight fit for the 75-member orchestra.

Today, the Schneider Theater seats 366 and the Black Box Theater seats 120. A new concert hall with seating for up to 500 people is proposed. More stage, seating, rehearsal and storage space would open up the schedule and accommodate more activity. Performances in the theater have an average occupancy of 86 percent, which exceeds industry standard of 70 percent.

As concept plans are tentatively developed to expand eastward from the existing facility, the City is seeking a state appropriation of $10 million to supplement City investments and private contributions toward the Center’s expansion.

For more information, visit blm.mn/bca or call 952-563-8877.