News Column

Cedar Valley 50: Long-lasting support seen for Gallagher-Bluedorn

August 2, 2014

By Christinia Crippes, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

Aug. 02--CEDAR FALLS -- A flurry of activity has been going on at the ground of Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center ever since contractors broke ground on the site on June 25, 1997.

A two-week long celebration, in April 2000, marked the opening of the facility that was decades in the making. Performances were held throughout the period.

The University of Northern Iowa, a Lyric Theatre performance, the Jazz Band, the Wind Symphony, the Varsity Men's Glee Club and Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra all helped ring in the new facility, according to UNI's Rod Library collection.

It had a packed 2000 to 2001 schedule, and it has had a full calendar ever since.

This year is no exception. Many performances, currently scheduled through May 2015, are either sold out or already have limited seating available.

The center has a Curious George musical, a Roots and Boots musical show and a play about the Wright brothers all coming up in October, among many other events scheduled throughout the year.

The popularity of the programs, and local support, makes it surprising that it took decades to get a performing arts center erected for the community and campus.

The supporters of a performing arts facility, ultimately named for four high-dollar donors Edward and Cathy Gallagher and Carl and Peggy Bluedorn, required decades of persistence to get built.

According to the Rod Library, support for a performing arts center goes back to the end of World War II. Supporters initially had hoped to get a number of facilities, including an arts center, built by the nation's bicentennial and the university's centennial in 1976.

Though the other facilities found a way to get erected through various funding sources, the performing arts center was left behind.

The project, even once it got off the ground, was years in the making. A planning committee formed in 1988. Their proposal led to a 1990 feasibility study commissioned by the university. All the while, donations flowed in.

An injection of state funding put the project over the top, and the rest is a flurry of activity.


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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

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