An iconic building in the Indianapolis arts community has undergone a $1.3 million upgrade. Construction took place over the summer at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus. Executive Director of Butler Arts and Event Center Aaron Hurt spoke with WFYI’s Terri Dee about how the facility was updated while keeping a familiar look.
WFYI Reporter Terri Dee: Aaron, can you describe the changes attendees will see it Clowes Hall? Will it be a completely new look, but a few nostalgic touches remain?
Executive Director of Butler Arts and Event Center Aaron Hurt: So what we spent this summer doing was putting a new main entrance onto Clowes Hall, so when you come in it'll be a whole new experience from the get go.
So new doors all around the whole building. We took down the southern middle wall, so it's all glass now, so it's a much more open lobby. We were able to add about 12 feet of lobby space. One of the most frustrating parts, again, at Clowes Hall has always been getting into the building, and we've been able to eliminate that frustration. It's a very easy, natural progression into the space now.
Dee: That's a good segue to my second question at the onset of the renovation project was there an area or were there areas that posed a challenge to renovate?
Hurt: I think all of it was, to be honest, when you when you're dealing with a 60-year-old building. How do we how do we modify this building in a way that's true to its original intent and original architecture in a way that makes it so we can use this with modern needs?
They weren't using metal detectors in the '60s. So how do we build this new lobby so that you can get in through this structure properly for metal detection, but also in a safe and efficient manner, too, while also doing some sort of throwback to what the building used to look like?
So, patrons that have been coming to Clowes for years remember we used to have three-sheeter posters in the front lobby as you walked into upcoming shows. Well, now when you come in that wall is gone but on the wall behind that there are giant digital three-sheeters. So you can see rotating posters of upcoming events, so a little like attached to what it used to be as well.
Dee: There's still some hesitation to fill been used both locally and nationally with the ongoing pandemic. So what do you think will contribute to Clowe Hall's success in filling seats and attracting entertainment and holding events there?
Hurt: I think that if you look at when things started to close public events were one of the first to cancel. They're going be one of the last to come back. But we've been working with a lot of our partners across the nation on how do we bring them back safely.
We do have masks required for all attendees. There are extra cleaning procedures and things happening. That way when patrons are in here, we can give them as much of a comfort and security that they're in a safe environment while they're here. And doing not just what you see publicly but those things going on behind the scenes. So when a show comes through, talking about what the COVID protocols are, how can we keep the artists safe as well.
So lots of moving parts all the time, you know. As different variants have popped up, you know, things have changed a little bit, but we're making sure that we're staying as cutting edge as possible.
Dee: Thank you for your time today, Aaron.
Hurt: Thank you. Appreciate the call.
Contact WFYI All Things Considered newscaster and reporter Terri Dee at email@example.com.