SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A down town South Bend staple is set to get a facelift. The historic Morris Performing Arts Center celebrated its 100th anniversary with million dollars in upgrades.
On Wednesday, the theatre in the heart of down town broke ground on a project to reshape its future.
“All the mechanicals are being redone, all the lighting systems. New roof, new plumbing, new HVAC, and of course some of the audience upgrades. You’re going to see new sound and lighting systems, a new box office, and some of those comfort features that will just make a better theater going experience,” said Aaron Perri, the Executive Director of South Bend Venues Parks & Arts.
The staple is getting nine million-dollar upgrades for the first phase of the project, that also includes brand new seating in the theatre.
The upgrades are largely funded through an energy savings contract designed to pay for itself over time.
City leaders believe the renovations are crucial to enhancing the arts, creativity, and culture in the community.
“The new version of the Morris performing arts Center is going to be a critical path forward to providing access to the arts for everyone and greater access to the arts improves every member of our community,” added Pastor Canneth Lee, First District Councilman.
City officials said this is part of a bigger picture the goal is to build up downtown making it a destination for generations to come.
“When we have a show night the restaurants are packed, the bars are packed, the hotel rooms fill up. The vibrancy that comes with a place like this is incredible. So, there is a real measurable economic impact that comes from having exposure to high-quality arts right here in our community,” said Perri.
Phase one updates are expected to be finished by the end of September.
The Morris Campaign has raised $22 out of $30 million of its project goal to help fund the remaining renovations which include a parking garage and expansion of the building.