Mission & History

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Mission Statement

“To provide a high-quality and dynamic community program of live theater, education and events for residents of and visitors to the Tri-State Area.”

Adopted by the Board of Directors on April 24, 2020

Statement of Purpose

The Purpose of the Bell Tower Theater is:

  • To present high quality, live theater productions to audiences of all ages for their entertainment, cultural education and inspiration.
  • To supplement theatrical productions with other quality performing arts experiences resulting in year-round entertainment offerings for people in the Tri-State Area.
  • To provide affordable opportunities for the development of artistic talents of youth and adults.
  • To provide an opportunity for youth and adults to express and manifest their talents as performers, musicians, technicians and support staff.
  • To provide a facility for individuals, businesses, civic organizations and other performing arts groups to utilize for meetings, workshops and events.

Adopted by the Board of Directors November 2015

Statement for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Bell Tower Theater celebrates diversity, equity and inclusiveness. We embrace these pillars of excellence as crucial to the work that we do.

Values Statement

The Bell Tower Theater believes:

  • Its core mission is strengthened when the Board of Directors and the staff all have a voice and are encouraged to contribute.
  • Every member of humanity has a contribution to make to the whole. It is our duty to encourage and promote that contribution.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion are an active process that requires continuous commitment.

Action Statement

Our values are realized through or by:

  • Fostering a culture of open-mindedness, compassion and inclusiveness among individuals and groups.
  • Actively expanding the Bell Tower Theater family to include those who have diverse cultures, backgrounds and life experiences.
  • Providing effective leadership in the integration of these principles into our existing programs and any new programs developed in the future.
  • Providing opportunities for engagement, education and discourse related to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Providing educational opportunities toward the development of socially responsible leaders who are willing to engage in the discourse and decision-making that can lead to transformational change.
  • Honoring freedom of expression and civility of discourse as fundamental to personal, professional and organizational growth.

Adopted by the Board of Directors on April 24, 2020

The History of the Bell Tower Theater

The Bell Tower Theater opened its doors in 2003 with Oz, a musical based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. But the theater took shape long before that. In November of 1930, the Sisters of the House of the Good Shepherd, who operated Mt. St. Rose School where Fountain Park now sits, completed the building of the L-shaped chapel. The building also included a 300-seat theater in the basement.

Throughout the years, the basement theater fell into neglect and became unusable. The chapel continuously changed ownership, from the Good Shepherd Sisters to the Dominican Fathers, who used it as a seminary, to Wahlert High School, who used it as housing for clergy teachers, and then to Calvary Baptist Church in 1983. Finally, in 2001 the investment group Fountain Park, LLC bought the property and began renovating it into what it is today: Fountain Park Business and Creative Arts Center. The complex also houses a school of music and over forty businesses that range from a salon and spa to the Dubuque Arts Council.

Since that first production in 2003, the Bell Tower Theater has presented more than 115 plays and musicals. We are proud to have presented the area premieres of plays like Sex Please, We’re SixtyNana’s Naughty Knickers and Spreading It Around and musicals like Nunsensations, Beehive and Assisted Living: The Musical. We have produced the world premiere productions of Robert Lynn’s With Friends Like These and Behold My Shorts by Robert Byrne both Dubuque playwrights. In addition we have produced the world premieres of L’il Miss Fancy Pants; All Bark, No Bite; and Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas and the US premieres of Buying the Moose, The Dangers of VD (Valentine’s Day) and The Numbers Game. See the full list of past productions.

In addition to producing five plays and musicals each year, the Bell Tower Theater also runs an award-winning Youth Program. Started in 2005 our youth program includes Kids Take the Stage, youth theater classes for kids in Kindergarten through 6th grade, and our Free Summer Musical Program, which produces two full-scale musicals each year–one for kids ages 7 to 16 and one for high school students. Each year we touch the lives of more than 1000 kids. Learn more about our youth programs.

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