Blog Post

Gallagher Bluedorn Breaks Ground on Renovation and Expansion Project

On June 8, 2023, Friends of the Gallagher Bluedorn and donors to its renovation and expansion project gathered outside the facility to celebrate a groundbreaking.

Over the past 20 years, the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center has enriched the University of Northern Iowa, becoming a cultural centerpiece of the Cedar Valley. The $14.9 million renovation and expansion project will elevate every aspect of the patron experience and continue the center’s tradition of providing world-class performing arts for the community and the state of Iowa.

“I think most people think of the big names our Artist Series brings to the Cedar Valley when they think of the Gallagher Bluedorn,” said Steve Carignan, executive director of the facility. “What most people don’t realize is that the biggest users of the stage are UNI and its School of Music, the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony, our K-12 programming and our service to off-campus performers and educators. This project will open up a host of new opportunities for the many organizations Gallagher is home to”.

An additional 13,000 square feet of new and renovated space will offer increased amenities including a new patron lounge, multi-purpose event space and a dynamic entry plaza with an additional drive lane for drop off. A modern box office and service counters will be added to the center’s existing footprint to create a better patron experience for visitors.

“This is truly a transformative project – supported 100% by private gifts and donors,” said UNI President Mark Nook. “Three hundred forty-four unique donors have given to this project. That is phenomenal and a testament to the commitment our community has to the arts. Thank you for believing in the power of the arts and the magic that happens at the Gallagher Bluedorn.”

Work on the renovation and expansion project began in May and will continue through the Gallagher Bluedorn’s 2023-24 season. A temporary construction wall will allow work to continue uninterrupted as the center remains open. Those attending performances during the 2023-24 season will enjoy new seating in the Catherine Cassidy Gallagher Great Hall.

The project is closing in on its goal, with $700,000 left to raise. “These investments are representative of thousands of volunteer hours,” said Robert Frederick, president of the Friends of the Gallagher Bluedorn, who have contributed $1.5 million to the project. “We look forward to continuing our role as ambassadors for the arts and the Gallagher. With this investment today, the Gallagher Bluedorn will continue to be a beacon of artistic brilliance, a source of inspiration, part of the social glue of our shared experiences and a catalyst for cultural growth of the university and the Cedar Valley for many years to come.” “The Gallagher Bluedorn is the crown jewel of the Cedar Valley,” said Becky Mudd, chair of the Gallagher Bluedorn advisory board. “We know 40% of our audience comes from a 60-mile radius outside the Cedar Valley. This is a win for the Gallagher Bluedorn and the entire Cedar Valley. You’ve made an investment in our community and in our local economy.”

Each year the Gallagher Bluedorn hosts approximately 115,000 guests at more than 600 events. The center serves as a leader in performing arts education. Since its doors opened in April 2000, more than 750,000 pre-K through 12 students have attended Kaleidoscope Series performances – high-quality arts opportunities made accessible for all students through the “Buck a Kid” program. Thousands of UNI students count on the Gallagher Bluedorn as part of their educational experience.

Even though the Center will be under construction, a full season is planned for 2023-2024. New seats in the Great Hall will be installed this summer, the new box office and service counter will open in October, and the remainder of the project to be completed in 2024.

To follow along with the project and to see the 2023-24 lineup of events, visit

Additional questions about the Gallagher Bluedorn renovation and expansion can be directed to Nate Clapham, assistant vice president for collegiate development and annual giving at the UNI Foundation, at or 319-273-5468.