Three performing arts groups in Bloomington have announced plans for a merger they say will create one of the largest arts organizations in southern Indiana. The Bloomington Playwrights Project, Cardinal Stage and Pigasus Institute say they are also negotiating with the city to take over management of the John Waldron Arts Center.

The organizations began their collaboration in 2019 after the formation of the Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre. They say the impact of the pandemic forced them to consider the possibility of a merger, and negotiations began in early 2021, with a formal plan approved on Tuesday.

The negotiations for the management Waldron Arts Center are in the final stages. Once the deal is complete, the organization says continue renovations being made to the building with new seating, box office, lobby bar and concessions, and theatrical lighting, among other updates.

The center reopened in January after the city completed deferred maintenance efforts. The ownership of the building reverted back to the city from its previous owner, Ivy Tech Community College, in 2020.

The company says the Waldron Arts Center will be the home for its administrative operations, and it plans to continue managing the Ted Jones Playhouse and the Pigasus Institute’s film studio.

The combined organization will begin operations July 1. It will be led by Co-Artistic Directors Kate Galvin and Chad Rabinovitz, with Gabe Gloden serving as managing director. John Armstrong will head up the company’s fundraising initiative.

All existing full-time staff will be retained and the organization says it has begun adding new administrative, theatrical production and filmmaking employees.

The groups say they will announce the new organization’s name and brand, as well as its first full season, on April 23.