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New performance hall plans excite students, faculty

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The empty field that sits on the corner of McKinley Avenue and University Avenue holds a vision. It holds an opportunity to elevate the community of Muncie with a new performance hall.

“The performance hall came about after many, many years of the Department of Theatre and Dance growing and not fitting in the space they were in,” said Bill Jenkins, department chair. “This performing arts center came about after many years, 20 years I’ve been the chair, of really working and striving to get better facilities for our students, so they can be in places that are indicative of the talent they have.” 

This hall, which remains to be named, will be the new hub for all things theatre and dance for Ball State students. Dance studios, black box theatres and a major stage, all made with the students of the Department of Theatre and Dance in mind.

“I think the new dance studios are definitely what’s most needed because there’s not a lot of room being clamped up in BG101 and 104,” said Jaylen Bryant, a senior studying musical theatre. “Those dance studios are very small and having three new dance studios the size of KDS is a big deal, and a lot more people will be able to take dance classes that aren’t just theater majors.”

The total cost for the hall is estimated to be $60 million, all provided through private donors. Students like Devon Humphrey, a sophomore acting major, hope to find themselves performing on the beautiful stage shortly after its completion.

“It’s going to bring wonderful opportunities to Ball State, to Muncie and obviously to the students," said Humphrey. "I’m really excited for what it’s going to do to revitalize the department, or change the department, in really profound ways, so I’m excited!”

Along with the new performance hall, people can look forward to a new hotel attached via lobby, as well as a rooftop bar. This project is considered the catalyst for a much bigger renovation.

“The fact of the matter is we’re trying to create destination realities or destination opportunities for the city of Muncie,” said Jenkins. “And if you think about it, between the University and the hospital down the street, this is a perfect sort of energy point for that. With the community of Muncie coming from the other side, it’s a great gathering point right in the middle of the heart of campus that will give us this sort of conduent to a real thriving area down in the Village.”

As of now, the groundbreaking for the construction of the hall is set for the Spring of 2024. As long as work stays on schedule, Muncie can expect an opening ceremony in the mid to late Spring of 2026. 

Contact Olivia Sloniker at omsloniker@bsu.edu with questions.