"evanstARTs: creating our cultural vision" A Community Collaboration to Gather Public Input on the Arts in Evanston
The City of Evanston, the Evanston Community Foundation and the Evanston Arts Council are collaborating to gather public input on the arts in Evanston and to generate recommendations for policy, programs and infrastructure. The recommendations will, in turn, foster a more dynamic and coordinated climate for the arts in Evanston for artists, the creative economy and the city’s residents. This cross-community collaboration will suggest a “Roadmap for the Arts” in Evanston.
The first phase of this effort, from September 2012 to January 2013, seeks to identify the diverse perspectives on arts and culture from community members who care about arts in the Evanston, whether they are artists, patrons, business professionals, parents or students. The initiative will include public listening sessions, an online survey, stakeholder interviews, focus groups and more.
The collaboration is spearheaded by a seven-person working group. Members are representatives of the City of Evanston, the Evanston Community Foundation and the Evanston Arts Council along with nonprofit consultant Amina Dickerson.
The working group will conduct the following five public listening sessions:
• Thursday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m. to noon at the Music Institute of Chicago (1490 Chicago Ave.)
• Thursday, Sept. 20, 7 to 9 p.m. at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center (1655 Foster St.)
• Monday, Sept. 24, 7 to 9 p.m. at Oakton Elementary School (436 Ridge Ave.)
• Friday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ecology Center (2024 McCormick Blvd)
• Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to noon at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art (40 Arts Circle Dr. on the NU Campus)
Whether people attend a meeting or not, they are invited to share their thoughts about the arc of artsexperiences, current and potential, in Evanston through an online survey. The survey will be available September 16 through October 7 at www.evanstarts.org. Additional information will be posted at the web site starting September 10, 2012.
The vision that is discovered during the first phase will provide the foundation for a more extensive planning effort to be undertaken by the Arts Council in collaboration with the Community Foundation and other local groups. There will be a more comprehensive, multi-year plan to develop and integrate arts into overall city planning efforts. Preliminary findings and recommendations will be shared with the public for comment at two open community meetings in November. The final report will be issued in January 2013.
Evanston is not unique in its search to identify economic opportunities created by a strong arts community. Throughout the U.S., communities are looking closely at the arts experiences they offer to residents and visitors alike. It is clear that the arts provide more to communities than audience experiences and income for artists. The arts inspire, enrich, entertain and enlighten, but also serve as an important economic engine for Evanston.
A 2005 study by the Evanston Community Foundation found that the work accomplished by the Evanstonnonprofit creative community contributed $25 million in direct economic benefits to Evanston, while the indirect and associated benefits to the community totaled roughly $89 million. Evanston’s 2012 National Endowment for the Arts grant to explore the possibilities of new arts facilities in the downtown area, together with creative new uses for city-owned buildings, create a unique opportunity for the arts to contribute still more to Evanston's economic development.
These developments have created a tremendous opportunity for Evanston to define the arc of artsexperiences that residents throughout our community can enjoy over their lifetime in spaces new and old, downtown and around town. Evanston could increase the bottom line impact for business, the community and the city itself by building on its rich tradition of excellence in the arts, its proximity to Chicago and its lively restaurant scene.
THE EVANSTON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, helps Evanstonthrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive, and just community. It builds, connects and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the common good. The Foundation builds endowments for current and future opportunities, fosters private philanthropy, focuses the impact of collective giving, finds solutions to community challenges, allocates grants and provides leadership training.
THE EVANSTON ARTS COUNCIL encourages the involvement of citizens in the arts and to aid the coordination of private and public and cultural activities in addition to administering and developing Noyes as a Cultural Arts Center for the Evanston community.