The City of Bloomington has found a buyer for the John Waldron Arts Center.
A January meeting between Mayor Mark Kruzan and Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart began discussions should soon result in the community college taking over control of the Waldron. Whikehart said buying the building for the same $150,000 for which the city bought it from the financially-ailing Bloomington Area Arts Council is an even bigger bargain that it might seem.
“The operating budget of this facility is less than the monies we’ve been paying to lease another facility where we’ve housed our continuing education area,” Whikehart said. “And it’s not been adequate space for our programming. More space for less money, greater opportunies for student involvement and student development, greater opportunity to partner with community radio that we obviously didn’t have in another facility. So it makes mission sense and it makes fiscal sense for us to do this.”
The college’s agreement with the city stipulates that 70 percent of the building must remain space dedicated to the arts and also ensures the structure’s name will not change, despite Kruzan joking perhaps it should be called the John Whikehart Arts Center going forward. The agreement also allows radio station WFHB to keep its 2,100 square feet of space, but at no cost to the station, which is primarily staffed by volunteers. In exchange, the station will credit Ivy Tech in its on-air announcements and, Whikehart said, accept interns from the college as staff members. But WFHB General Manager Will Murphy — who said he’s grateful earlier concerns about skyrocketing rent payments have been assuaged — admits the agreement puts the station in a delicate spot.
“It’ll be something of a tricky dance,” Murphy said. “Because we want to cooperate with Ivy Tech as a community partner, but we don’t want to become the telecommunications department for Ivy Tech. So we’re going to simultaenously have to collaborate with them but maintain a kind of firewall.”
The deal must now be approved by Ivy Tech’s Board of Directors and the Bloomington City Council.