New Kid on the Block: Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture Office of Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame

Author: Allison Nanni

There’s a new kid on the block. The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Arts and Culture at 1045 W. Washington St. will celebrate its grand opening in March 2013.


The Center for Arts and Culture joins the “museum corridor” that includes several other key history and arts organizations: The Center for History, Studebaker Museum, Indiana University Civil Rights Heritage Center, and landmarks such as the Oliver Mansion and Tippecanoe Place.


Opening events on the University’s main campus to the public is a common way to interact with the community. However, by bringing world class artists, a state of the art studio, and serious collaborators into a local neighborhood, the Center for Arts and Culture will act as a bridge to resources on Notre Dame’s campus for local residents. The Center itself will be of particular use to neighbors of all ages from South Bend’s west side – especially the youth. 


Tim Sexton, associate vice president of public affairs at the University of Notre Dame says, “Over the years we have been asked by various community entities, ‘What can Notre Dame do on the Westside of South Bend?’  We believe that this center will be a place where we can collaborate with cultural and art institutions, and partner with local colleges to engage our Westside neighbors. ”


The Center features an internationally renowned fine art print company and studio, an art gallery and Notre Dame’s relocated downtown office of community relations, as well as other educational and cultural programs to be determined through community input.


Gil Cardenas, former director of the Institute for Latino Studies, walks through the first floor, previously a gymnasium. The space has been specifically redesigned as a print studio, “This dream project has been six years in the making,” he said.


The project initially began as an initiative of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS). However ILS Assistant Director, Doug Franson, says the Center for Arts and Culture evolved into a University collaboration with local businesses and organizations: The Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend Heritage Foundation and Vanir Construction Management, Inc. of California, which also made a significant contribution.   


Kil Architecture and Planning maintained the facility’s structural integrity and rich history of serving children.  Franson smiles during a recent tour as he points out the refurbished staircase and maple flooring. The restored glass blocks add natural light to both the building’s interior spaces and decorative interest to its exterior walls. An outdoor courtyard and patio will also open in March 2013.


Franson describes Joseph Segura who will lead the studio as a master printmaker, business-owner and arts leader, “It’s not only the fine arts expertise. He has great experience and success working with community residents right alongside professional artists.” Segura participates in national and international initiatives to promote underserved and underrepresented artists. 


Segura says as a child, he felt awkward about going into museums, libraries and campus areas. The Center for Arts and Culture will serve as a bridge and easy transition for neighborhood children who may have similar experiences.