By: Claire Downes—
Muncie, IN—Allison K. Bell, daughter of the late newscaster, Steve Bell, and his late wife Joyce Bell, joins Cornerstone Center for the Arts in Muncie, Indiana as President and Chief Executive Officer starting August 3, 2020. Bell will bring a new vision and innovation in arts education classes at the arts center. She, and her team of directors, will host classes in-person and virtually in areas of music, art, dance, theatre, and wellness. Bell will explore new opportunities for CCA to serve the Muncie and Delaware County community. The nearly 100-year old gothic building owned by Cornerstone Center for the Arts has been open on a limited basis since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March of 2020.
“Cornerstone offers opportunities for children and adults that are critical for enjoyment, creative problem-solving, and the expansion of learning potential,” Bell said. “The classes offer not only innovative education for children and adults, but also bring diverse people together to share new, collaborative visions and make them a reality.”
A Muncie resident since 1998, Bell most recently edited a book, Back from the Shadow of Death(Fideli Publishing, 2020), by Muncie native, educator, and activist, Marwin Strong. Bell has worked nearly 20 years in education administration, leadership, and teaching. She has supervised curriculum development for elementary, middle, high school, and college students and has taught at the high school and college levels.
Since her childhood, Bell has loved the arts, and studied ballet and jazz for 17 years, twice earning high marks from The Royal Academy of Dance (Britain). She sang with choirs in high school and at her alma mater, with the Duke University Chorale. She had a lead dance role in the university’s musical her junior year and the lead her senior year.
Bell holds a Masters in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French, from Duke University. Bell said her parents would be thrilled she is joining Cornerstone Center for the Arts promoting access to the arts for all. Bell explained, “My parents would have told me, ‘Allison, this is the job you have been training for your whole life.’”
Following a year of transition and adjustment to the changes required during the pandemic, Cornerstone will reopen its unique venues as soon as possible in compliance with state guidelines for safety. Cornerstone offers several grand theaters and gathering locations, highlighted by historical architecture and artistic murals, for weddings, corporate events, and non-profit outreach.
Cornerstone Board Chair Ian Robertson, said, “Allison is the right leader to take Cornerstone to the next level of bringing innovative arts and education to the public. She brings credibility, creativity, and experience with her background in education, journalism, and theater. She is carrying on the commitment of her family to this community.”
Bell said she is grateful for the leadership of the board’s executive committee, and the outstanding staff, during this pandemic crisis. “We have a great team, and we are working to serve the community during this pandemic, and we are looking ahead into the future.” Bell said. Bell also thanked Marilyn Cleary, who served as the Executive Director of Cornerstone for six years prior to her retirement in August 2019.
“We are so grateful for Marilyn’s generosity and her inspiring devotion to the organization.” Cleary has supported Cornerstone for many years as a board member and volunteer, and she continues to help with special projects.