Clowes to undergo $2M renovation

Clowes Memorial Hall is slated to undergo renovations this summer in preparation for the theater’s 50th anniversary celebration in October 2013.

Starting next June, Clowes will go recieve a nine-week renovation during which seats, roof, floor and walls will be repaired.

The renovations are possible due to a $2 million grant from the Allen Whitehall Clowes Charitable Foundation, named for the son of the man responsible for Clowes’ founding.

“We knew that we needed to have something look nice for the 50th anniversary,” said Elise Kushigian, Clowes Hall executive director.

Kushigian said the renovation schedule needs to be strict given time constraints.

“We don’t have much leeway if anything has a problem,” Kushigian said. “We need to have it look decent for the opening of orientation in the fall.”

This summer’s renovations are part of a 10-year plan to update various aspects of Clowes, including the heat, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Other past updates include a total renovation of the venue’s façade, gutting of the bathrooms and future plans to upgrade the theatrical lighting system.

“We’re doing it in chunks to be efficient,” Kushigian said. “We can’t afford to close this building down for a long period of time, so we’ve planned this all out.“

Kushigian said both she and Karen Steele, Clowes Hall operations director, are grateful for the grant.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this interior renovation if we hadn’t received this grant,” Kushigian said. “That would’ve been just too big a loan to pay off.”

Kushigian said renovations in the past were made possible through advancements from the university, with the exception of the heat and ventilation system that was made possible with a $500,000 grant received in 2009.

Each ticket sold at Clowes includes a $2 renovation fee in its price, which all goes to paying back those loans.

Renovations include getting a new roof, repainting and plastering the walls that have been damaged throughout the years, and completely redoing the carpet.

Steele said these changes will help improve the quality of the theater.

“It will change the acoustics by adding carpet up there and will change the amount of audience noise we get,” Steele said. “There’s a lot of noise that pops off of that tile.”

Kushigian said they are still deciding whether to refurbish the existing chairs or purchase brand new chairs.

Each chair, she said, will cost around $500 to complete, given the amount of labor and material that will go into taking some 2,200 seats out in such a short work time.

“It’s kind of a domino effect of how all these projects go together,” Steele said. “To go back and do these things at another time would cost a lot more money, so it’s more cost effective to do it all at once.”

Joshua Lingenfelter, Clowes Hall marketing director, said he’s looking forward to plans for the anniversary.

“We are thankful for this gift from the foundation and their continued support,” Lingenfelter said in an email. “Clowes Memorial Hall has been an Indiana treasure for 50 years, and we are excited to continue in that tradition.”


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