BLOOMINGTON — Friends of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts will launch a $5 million capital campaign Monday to jump-start renovation of the Bloomington Creativity Center.
"The Creativity Center is a project that has been on the radar for over 10 years," said Vicki Tilton, president of the group's board of directors.
"I am so pleased that we are now organized and have begun the process of bringing the renovations to fruition to fill this need in Bloomington," added Tilton. "When we teach people to create, they are less likely to destroy."
The fundraising will support renovating, equipping and furnishing the 32,000-square-foot former medical office building located across Locust Street from the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.
That money will be used to update the building's roof, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units this summer.
Complete renovation of the Creativity Center's interior is expected to start once the $3 million mark is reached.
The Creativity Center is envisioned as a facility that will support "a wide range of initiatives, including arts education for at-risk youths and accessibility to the arts for the elderly, economically less fortunate and the disabled," said Friends of the BCPA in a statement. "Creativity will also figure prominently in the center's focus of providing all children with opportunities to learn, laugh, dream and share in new experiences."
When completed, the creativity center will showcase a black box theater, multiuse classrooms, a dance studio, music studios, a recording studio, office space for BCPA staff and local arts organizations and gallery space for local artists.
The city purchased both buildings in 2003. The city has allocated about $1.7 million annually from sales tax receipts to pay for bonds that allowed for the renovation of the BCPA, formerly the Scottish Rite Temple, in 2006.
The Creativity Center at 107 E. Chestnut St. was slated at the time for $5.2 million in renovations, to be paid with donations and grants, but fundraising efforts have languished.
In 2016, selling the Creative Center and the BCPA was among a community task force's suggestions for closing a projected city budget deficit of more than $2 million at that time. Neither suggestion gained enough support from the city's nine aldermen to move forward.
The goal of the Friends of the BCPA is to provide private-sector support for the BCPA facilities, said James Mack, who manages both the BCPA and Creativity Center.
"They will serve the city of Bloomington by seeking and obtaining donations, state and federal grants, corporate partners and collaborating with community stakeholders to promote the benefits of arts and culture," he added.
Tickets will go on sale this summer for the Friends of the BCPA's kickoff fundraiser, The ArtGasm, set for Oct. 5 at the BCPA.
"The Creativity Center will be a valuable component in Bloomington’s downtown revitalization strategy by establishing a hub for innovation and imagination through arts education," said Mack. "The overall benefit to the community is the improvement of our quality of life by providing the finest public arts education center in Central Illinois."