Philharmonic to break ground for arts center

The Helen Haddad Music, Arts & Event Center will be a step closer to reality when leaders of the local professional orchestra break ground on the $2.5 million project during a special ceremony at 4 p.m. April 3 in downtown Columbus.

All but about $100,000 of the effort has been raised, according to Margaret Powers, executive director of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. And that final amount is expected to be met via the current $50,000 matching grant opportunity through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s CreatINg Places program.

In fact, Powers said Philharmonic leaders are hopeful the remaining financial gap can be closed in time for the groundbreaking — a public event featuring Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, Haddad, and other dignitaries.

The approximate 100-seat center will be constructed at the rear of the Philharmonic office at 315 Franklin St. Currently, that space is currently a conference room that faces toward a parking lot.

Barry Turner, Philharmonic president, and Peter King and Tracy Haddad, co-chairs of the effort’s capital campaign, are expected to offer remarks. A portion of the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and a small group from the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir are scheduled to entertain.

“They are among those who will be using the center,” Powers said.

The facility also is expected to be available for use by other area agencies and groups for everything from recitals to rehearsals, according to organizers

In June 2018, longtime Columbus supporters and philanthropists Bob and Helen Haddad announced their decision to donate $1 million toward the Philharmonic’s Building for the Arts Capital Campaign. The Haddads have long been key supporters of the Philharmonic’s youth programs.

The Haddad’s gift, made in two parts, included an outright gift of $500,000 and $500,000 in matching funds. Members of the community stepped up and met that challenge within six weeks.

With those funds, plus contributions by The Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, the Custer and Nugent foundations and other foundations that support the arts, the Philharmonic generated the current $2.4 million that it has for the work.

Besides the center, the project also will include various updates to the orchestra office space such as accessible restrooms for people with disabilities, Powers said.

Because of the work that will begin in earnest by early May, Powers said that Philharmonic staff will move out temporarily by the end of April for the duration of construction.

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What: Groundbreaking ceremony for the Helen Haddad Music, Arts & Event Center

When: 4 p.m. April 3

Where: Columbus Indiana Philharmonic office at 315 Franklin St.

Information and to donate: 812-376-2638 or