On Friday, at its first meeting of the 2023-24 academic year, the Ball State University Board of Trustees reviewed the comprehensive design for the university’s new Performing Arts Center.

The Performing Arts Center, a space that will be connected to a select new hotel, will serve as the catalyst for the university’s revitalization plan for the Village, a commercial district located directly adjacent to campus.

Pending approvals, construction on the $60 million project, which will be located at the northeast corner of University and McKinley Avenues in Muncie, is scheduled to begin in fall 2024 and be completed by fall 2026.

“I am grateful to the Ball State Project Design Committee, whose hard work resulted in the beautiful design of our performing arts center,” said Ball State President Jeffrey S. Mearns. “This facility will showcase the talent of students and faculty in our Department of Theater and Dance and provide an attractive entry into our vibrant campus for the greater Muncie and East Central Indiana communities.”

Plans for the performing arts center reviewed Friday include:

  • A two-story building structure with a lower level will be a combination of steel frame, concrete, and wood construction. The exterior skin will consist of metal panels, precast limestone panels, concrete and brick. Glass will be used extensively, providing transparency from the street and interior spaces, and showcasing behind-the-scenes production and craftsmanship.
  • User-friendly spaces for teaching and learning by day, and highly experiential spaces for the public at night. Support spaces include a main stage with capacity for 425 spectators. Theater Studio “Black Box”; dressing rooms and green room; Lobby connected to the hotel; scene shop; fashion store; Lighting and sound stores. And storage.

In June, the Ball State University Board of Trustees authorized President Mearns to execute a development agreement between the university and Fairmount Properties to create a best-in-class, multi-generational district driven by arts, culture, entertainment and innovation that includes a performing arts center, a hotel, and new dining, retail and gathering options in the area.

The performing arts center — which is expected to host more than 160 college productions and attract more than 35,000 attendees to the Village each year — is expected to attract nearly $80 million in private investment in the revitalization project.

Trustees also heard Friday an update on Ball State student enrollment for the fall 2023 semester. This fall, the university enrolled more than 3,800 new students — a nine percent increase compared to fall 2022. The university saw similar increases in the number of returning undergraduates and new graduate students and international students.
“We are encouraged by the year-over-year increases in enrollment and retention rates,” said Board Chair Renae Conley. “We are grateful to our faculty and staff, particularly those in enrollment planning and management, who implemented innovative strategies that enabled Ball State to navigate the challenges presented by the global pandemic to recruit and enroll new students at or above pre-pandemic rates.”

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