In 2022, the Morris Performing Arts Center will celebrate its 100 year anniversary. It’s almost hard to believe that this magical place we all love so much was almost knocked to the ground by a wrecking ball 1959. Thanks to the generosity of Ella Morris, and the mystery sum she paid the owners to purchase the theater, it didn’t happen. Today, we’re on to the next 100 years – the next million patrons and the Neverending Encore that will inspire generations to come.

In anticipation of this incredible milestone, a group of committed volunteers is working with the city of South Bend to raise $30 million that will help ensure the Morris is still a vital part of our community a hundred years from now.

An Endowment for Local Equity in the Arts

Are the Arts worth it? Ask the famous actors, writers, musicians and directors who spent time as children at the Morris – most of them come from humble backgrounds. Ask the many economic development professionals who point to something they call ‘quality of place’ and the direct impact that the Arts have on our local economy. Or, simply ask any local child who has little but a dream – a dream to play the violin, or act on a stage like the one she’s experienced at the MorrIn 1922, when this magical place opened, the architects meant to make everyone who walked through the doors feel like royalty. The endowment for our local Equity in the Arts program will ensure that original spirit for the next hundred years. Equity in the Arts will stimulate more social inclusion, more diversity and access to the Arts for everyone in our community.

Equity in Arts means the Morris is for everyone. As a part of the 100 year anniversary campaign, the team at Venues Parks & Arts look forward to instituting an exciting Equity in Arts program to ensure all residents have access to the Morris and through it, the arts.

Local children who enjoy easy access to the Arts get better grades in school. High school students who’re engaged in the Arts are more likely to complete advanced courses and enroll in college. And adults who’ve experienced the Arts are significantly more civic minded – they are involved in continuously improving the quality of life in a community. And, “When arts are present, there’s documented increase in neighborhood vitality…”

Equity in the Arts Goals

  • Establish residency (incubator) program
  • Create grant program for promoter diversity
  • Diversify genre of the lineup
  • Ensure no generation misses an opportunity to be exposed to the arts
  • Partner with ATG (American Theater Guild) and SBSO (South Bend Symphony Orchestra) to develop programming to foster arts participation
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