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Musical Arts Center to be refurbished for first time in nearly 50 years

For Immediate Release Feb 28, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Musical Arts Center auditorium at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will be refurbished this summer for the first time since it was built in 1971, as part of the IU Bicentennial.

In addition to being home to the IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater, the Musical Arts Center – or MAC – presents dozens of concerts across multiple artistic genres each year that are free and open to the public.

Musical Arts Center
Exterior of the Musical Arts Center.Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

The project will include replacement of the MAC’s original 1,460 seats and the auditorium’s carpet, as well as making additional accommodations for accessibility. A small number of seats will be removed to enhance accessible seating options.

The renovations will be funded with a generous gift from the Well House Society of the IU Foundation. The nearly 1,000 Well House Society supporters make annual donations to support special projects at IU, including renovations and restorations aimed at preserving the university’s heritage; projects to enhance the beauty of its campuses and recognize its history through public art; and unique artistic performances. This is the latest in a series of major projects that the Well House Society has funded to celebrate and commemorate the IU Bicentennial.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie announced the project during the opening performance of IU Opera Theater’s “La Traviata” at the MAC on Feb. 28.

“As we celebrate the Bicentennial of Indiana University, we have been commemorating all that makes IU one of the nation’s and the world’s great public universities, including its glorious tradition in the arts,” McRobbie said. “I am delighted to announce the first refurbishment of the Musical Arts Center after nearly 50 years to provide a greatly enhanced and more comfortable experience for our opera-, ballet- and concert-going audiences in one of the truly iconic artistic gems of the Bloomington campus. We are also extremely grateful to the members of the Well House Society for their generosity that will make these improvements possible.”

Interior of Musical Arts Center
Interior of the Musical Arts Center taken in 1972.Photo courtesy of IU Archives

“The news of the refurbishment of the seats and carpet in the Musical Arts Center is a thrilling development – the achievement of a long-held aspiration of many patrons of the MAC,” said Gwyn Richards, the David Henry Jacobs Bicentennial Dean and general manager of IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater. “As we celebrate the IU Bicentennial, these gifts will prepare the Musical Arts Center for the celebration of the Jacobs School of Music Centennial that begins in 2021.”

The Musical Arts Center, at 101 N. Jordan Ave. on the IU Bloomington campus, features acoustical design and technical capabilities that are among the best in the nation. Regularly compared to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the main stage is 90 feet wide by 60 feet deep. The backstage area occupies more than half the building and provides a state-of-the-art theater space for technical work.

The refurbishment of the MAC will begin this summer and will take place around events already scheduled. The updates will be complete by the fall for the 2020-21 performance season at the MAC.

About the IU Foundation

Founded in 1936, the Indiana University Foundation maximizes private support for Indiana University by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses and units across the university. Today, the IU Foundation oversees one of the largest public university endowments in the country, with a market value in excess of $2.4 billion. IU is consistently ranked among the top four of Big Ten universities in annual voluntary support.

Media Contact

IU Newsroom

Chuck Carney

Director of Special Projects

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