Emens Auditorium and Pruis Hall constitute a department within the Business and Auxiliary Services unit of the Division of Business Affairs. As such, this auxiliary supports and enhances the vision and mission of Ball State University through the enrichment of the overall Ball State University student, employee, and guest experience by providing exceptional patron service, the delivery of state of the art stage/production service, and event planning and support service, in addition to the primary function of presenting a diverse array of guest artists, productions, and celebrities of national and international prominence who represent various genres of live performance and entertainment from traditional to the innovative.
Through programmatic efforts we strive to:
- Enhance the University experience for students, faculty, and staff
- Enrich the quality of life in East Central Indiana for residents and visitors
- Encourage greater connection between the campus and surrounding community
- Foster greater appreciation for the performing arts; principally music, theatre, and dance
- Inspire and promote our core values: lifelong learning, multicultural literacy, and creativity
As fine a hall as the Salzburg Festspiel Haus and better than the San Francisco Opera House . . .
— Heinrich Keilholz, acoustical engineer from Hamburg, Germany
Ball State University's sixth president, John R. Emens (1945-1968), had a dream. He envisioned a "campus of the future" complete with an auditorium "large enough to house most college functions as well as major symphonies, Broadway productions, ballets, and other forms of entertainment for Muncie and east central Indiana audiences."
Planning for the auditorium began as early as 1947, but the U-shaped building was not actually built until 1961. The structure includes the Hargreeves Music Building, Arts and Communications Building, and the 410-seat University Theatre.
Emens' dream was finally realized on March 14–15, 1964, when the auditorium gave its first performances in the form of a "sneak preview," and then it was officially dedicated on Oct. 25 the same year.
In its first 25 years alone, more than 3.6 million people visited the then 3,581-seat auditorium to see 2,335 programs. The legendary acoustic, scalloped ceiling and state-of-the-art sound capabilities of Emens Auditorium account for the attraction of many artists to performing in this facility.
Since the grand opening in 1964, many world-renowned artists, individuals, musicians, and shows have graced the stage of Emens Auditorium. Legendary performances range from President Ford, David Letterman, Stevie Wonder, Louis Armstrong, Victor Borge, Magician David Copperfield, comedian Adam Sandler, musical Cats, and Les Miserables, Red Skelton, B. B. King, The Temptations, Third Eye Blind, and the Dixie Chicks.
Did you know?
- Emens currently has 3,309 seats, including just over 1,000 in the balcony alone.
- Originally, the venue had 3,581 seats. Over the years, technology upgrades, seat replacements, and accessibility have reduced this number.
- The proscenium or stage opening is 80 feet wide.
- The stage depth is 45 feet and made of maple flooring.
- Heinrich Keilholz is the acoustical consultant/engineer from Hamburg, Germany.
- In 1964, the original construction cost $3 million.
- No tax dollars were used in the building’s construction. Half of the cost was donated by the surrounding community, business large and small, Ball State employees, alumni, and individual citizens of Muncie.
- The creation of Emens was the first capital campaign at Ball State University.
- The facility is named after the 6th president of our institution, Dr. John R. Emens.
- The auditorium’s official name is John R. Emens College-Community Auditorium.