Bloomington has lost one of its most ardent advocates for the arts.
Tina Salamone, director of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, died of a sudden heart attack on Sunday afternoon and was pronounced dead at Bro-Menn Hospital, McLean County coroner Kathleen Davis confirmed.
Mayor Tari Renner praised Salamone as one of Bloomington's most popular and dedicated public officials.
"This is a tremendous shock to all of us in City Hall and in the community. Tina always brought a great sense of energy, creativity and ideas to her job. She was extremely dedicated. This is a huge loss," Renner said.
The mayor said the city plans to honor Salamone in the coming days.
Tricia Stiller, executive director of the Downtown Bloomington Association, said Salamone had complained of tiredness and had been battling flu-like symptoms for several days.
She was at work Sunday at the BCPA when she told a friend she was not feeling well and thought she should head for the emergency room.
"This is a devastating loss for me personally and for the community," Stiller said. "I've never known a visionary of Tina's caliber. She was always three steps ahead in her ideas and her energy and in what she envisioned that Bloomington and Normal could be."
"It is an enormous gap she will leave, as she was a unique and creative soul with so much talent and ability. I'm grateful that our community was fortunate enough to have her. Her impact will be felt forever. The lives she touched and the difference she made will be here always to remind us she walked among us," Stiller said.
Salamone grew up in the south Chicago suburb of Burbank. She was named director of the BCPA in December 2013. She worked previously at the Burlington Capitol Theater in Iowa, and was involved in numerous theater projects before that.
In an interview on GLT's Sound Ideas last summer about the 10th anniversary of the BCPA, Salamone said she was concerned about booking artists who would attract a diverse audience to the center.
"I look for artists who are entertaining, engaging, have an educational component and will do in-service in the community and will be representative and vital to people who are not currently coming to the performing arts center and give them a reason to come," Salamone said.
"You don't need a certain pair of shoes to come. I come in there with tennis shoes all the time," she added.
Salamone brought a variety of acts to the BCPA ranging from a cappella groups, touring Broadway musicals and country singers to classical performers, poets and comics.
"It doesn't matter to me really who's on stage as long as it's a quality performer who will have a meaningful exchange with the audience," Salamone said.
Salamone was also a director and actor. She performed in a BCPA special 10th anniversary performance of "Love Letters," and often directed the summer musicals at Miller Park.
"I have never met anyone (and probably never will) who was more passionate about the performing arts," said Jay Tetzloff, director of the Bloomington's Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts.
At the time of her death, Salamone was working on revitalizing a Creativity Center, where arts groups could come together in a shared home. Tetzloff vowed to keep the Creativity Center project moving forward, in Salamone's honor.
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