A new “Arts in Sacred Places” program is trying to match Evanston artists who need work space with religious organizations that have underutilized space.

The Evanston program is an outgrowth of similar efforts by a national group called Partners for Sacred Places.

Mariam Thiam, a project manager in the group’s Chicago office, told members of the city’s Economic Development Committee Wednesday night that artists and performing arts groups need rehearsal and performance spaces as well as office and studio space — but often can’t afford typical rents for commercial space.

And, she said, religious groups often have underutilized space and could benefit from getting some additional income by rentiing the space to arts groups.

An economic development intern for the city, Meghan McShan, has surveyed the scores of faith groups in Evanston and has identified 18 that willing to share space with arts groups and another 10 that may be interested in doing so.

She said the survey identified over 200,000 square feet of space including 18 commercial kitchens, six theater stages and an array of possible office and studio spaces.

The city’s cultural arts coordinator, Jennifer Lasik, said a meeting is being planned next month for artists interested in using the spaces and that there will be a training program later in the spring for artists and leaders of the religious groups to learn more about what it really means to share spaces, including lease agreements and other technical issues.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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