Whither the arts in Evanston?

The City of Evanston is partnering with the Evanston Community Foundation, the Evanston Arts Council, and a consultant to seek resident input on a "Roadmap for the Arts" in the community. The 16-month process, which will include public listening sessions, an online survey, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups, is starting out by seeking perspectives on arts and culture from community members, including artists, patrons, business professionals, parents, and students. Five public "listening sessions" are scheduled:

  • Thursday, September 20, 10 a.m. to noon, Music Institute of Chicago (1490 Chicago Ave.)
  • Thursday, September 20, 7 to 9 p.m., Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center (1655 Foster St.)
  • Monday, September 24, 7 to 9 p.m., Oakton Elementary School (436 Ridge Ave.)
  • Friday, October 5, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Evanston Ecology Center (2024 McCormick Blvd.)
  • Saturday, October 6, 10 a.m. to noon, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art (40 Arts Circle Dr. on the NU Campus)

An online survey is also scheduled to available September 20 through October 7 at www.evanstarts.org.
The arts have faced challenge in recent City budgets, with proposals including selling the mansion that currently houses the Evanston Arts Center and shuttering the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

I've argued for years that arts funding, often thrown under the bus as frivolous when times are tough, can be cost-effective localized stimulus. Like any governmental spending it needs oversight, but housing facilities for the development of culture is a sound investment.