Morris Performing Arts Center gets millions in upgrades

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A downtown South Bend staple is about to get a facelift. The historic Morris Performing Arts Center celebrated its 100th anniversary with million dollar upgrades.

On Wednesday, the theater in the heart of downtown launched a project to reshape its future.

“All the mechanics are being redone, all the lighting systems. New roof, new plumbing, new HVAC and of course some of the public upgrades. You’re going to see new sound and lighting systems, new ticketing and some of those comfort features that will only enhance the theater experience,” said Aaron Perri, Executive Director of South Bend Venues Parks & Arts.

The staple is getting nine million dollars in upgrades for the first phase of the project, which also includes new seats in the theater.

Upgrades are largely funded through an energy savings contract designed to pay for itself over time.

City leaders believe the renovations are key to enhancing arts, creativity and culture in the community.

“The revamped Morris Performing Arts Center will be a critical pathway to access to the arts for all and greater access to the arts enhances every member of our community,” added First District Councilor Pastor Canneth Lee.

City officials said it was part of a larger whole, with the goal of building the city center as a destination for generations to come.

“When we have a show night, the restaurants are full, the bars are full, the hotel rooms fill up. The vibrancy that comes with a place like this is incredible. So there is a real and measurable economic impact that comes from exposure to high quality arts right here in our community,” said Perri.

The first phase updates are expected to be complete by the end of September.

The Morris campaign raised $22 of its $30 million project goal to help fund the remaining renovations, including a parking garage and building expansion.

Click here for more details on the project.