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Daily Makes the Difference for 25 Years

Daily Makes the Difference for 25 years

The George Daily Auditorium was built in 1997, years before it was common for an Iowa school to have access to a state-of-the-art performing arts center. What began as a structure (a 696-seat auditorium with a black box and board room between the Oskaloosa middle and high schools) has become a non-profit creative arts ecosystem. The Friends of the Auditorium make a “Daily” difference by providing approachable professional touring seasons, accessible education programs, and energizing community resources.

But many of the 1400+ students who spend time at the Auditorium each year want to know one thing: who was George Daily? We expect that men with structures named after them were powerful and wealthy, but George Daily was a brilliant loner who got by with very little during his lifetime.

George’s inheritance of oil-rich land from his absent and neglectful father was of no importance to him until he established a will leaving his entire estate in a trust for the Oskaloosa community’s benefit. The Trust is a seed for growth, matching the investments made by the community for the community.

The George Daily Auditorium grew out of our namesake’s legacy: when the community raised half of the funds for an auditorium, the Trust matched it. Today, a statue of George Daily sits on a bench under an apple tree in front of the Auditorium, playing checkers, one of his favorite pastimes.

The founding agreement between the community, the non-profit, and the school district helps keep each group’s needs met without overextending any entity. Like George Daily, if you give more than you take, work together, make everything count, and share what you can, lots of little, builds an awful lot.

So much so that the George Daily Auditorium has now been the site for 25 years of great community joy and sorrow, heated debate and harmonious collaboration.

You’ve seen touring Broadway shows like Million Dollar Quartet, Spamalot, and Fiddler on the Roof without driving 60 miles or paying for parking. Some of you have performed in Missoula Children’s Theatre shows or Oskaloosa Symphony concerts. Were you here when the smoke alarms went off because of an onstage fog machine, or a storm triggered the fire doors?

Maybe you’ve sat in the blue Auditorium seats to see your child make their theatrical debut, perform in a community dance recital, or begin their musical journey in band, choir, or orchestra. You’ve been here for the parent orientations and school board meetings or to sign kids out from theatre camp in the lobby.

Some of you have tied your red ties to be volunteer ushers during high school in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and some have been season ticket holders since the beginning.

And some of us don’t know Oskaloosa before August 1997. We’ve only known Oskaloosa with the Auditorium. In this place, you can see nationally touring shows, work on tech crews alongside professional theatre technicians, play with world-class musicians, practice directing or designing, or generally conquer the world with your curiosity.

We have all had different experiences with the George Daily Auditorium over the past 25 years, but to quote one writer, Gene Luen Yang,  “We all share the same tomorrow.”

This year, we aren’t just bringing you world-class entertainment but also world-class experiences that will help shape our shared tomorrow at the George Daily Auditorium. The Auditorium and Oskaloosa are the Iowa host for Arts Midwest World Fest through 2025, allowing residents and visitors to experience the world through gatherings, workshops, and concerts exploring art, language, and culture with international artists.

You can find information about the 2022-23 Professional Season, free Community Extras! series, newly renovated Woodhaven Amphitheater, and youth theatre programming at


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