Evanston’s City Council voted Monday to accept the report it sought on how to grow the local arts scene, but postponed any action until the city manager develops a list of arts related issues for discussion late this spring

A presentation of the executive summary of the evanstARTs report by consultant Amina Dickerson was greeted with congratulations from several aldermen.

Amina Dickerson.

“The most exciting presentation I’ve heard in a long time,” said Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said the enthusiasm advocates were bringing to the project is “so Evanston.”

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said there’s a need to get the message out about how much the arts contribute to the economy.

Jane Grover.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, suggested there’s a need for a dedicated fund “across all types of arts.”

But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, asked whether perhaps some entity other than the city should take the lead role in organizing arts efforts in the community.

Dickerson replied that the report “is not just lobbing the ball to the city and saying ‘Now, you do it.'”

“Everybody has to be a part of the planning process,” Dickerson added.

The $30,000 project involved the participation of more than 700 people. Dickerson said participants identified as key needs in the city:

  • A cultural facility, capable of hosting multiple events, centrally located in a defined “cultural district.”
  • Coherent “branding” and arts identity for the city, broadly promoted.
  • A central clearinghouse of information on the arts and arts activity.
  • Live/work space for artists.
  • Responsive zoning and permitting.
  • Technical and capacity-building support, including meaningful levels of grant funding.
  • Support for arts education, both in-school and out-of-school.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he would come back to the City Council in May or June with a list of arts-related issues to discuss.

Related document

Executive summary of evanstARTs report (.pdf)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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