A mayoral task force is scheduled to review the newly issued final EvanstARTs report tonight as it looks for a strategy that could bring a performing arts center to downtown Evanston.

The EvansARTs report — the product of a two-year collaboration between the city and the Evanston Community Foundation — was released this week.

It suggests an array of possible mechanisms for funding the arts. They include:

  • Soliciting private donations with a “United Arts Fund,”
  • Creating new Special Service Area taxing districts to fund arts programs,
  • Increasing city appropriations from current tax sources,
  • Encouraging formation of L3Cs — low-profit limited liability companies — that might generate private investment for capital projects like art centers.

The report justifies tapping tax dollars to fund the arts by claiming arts groups “contribute nearly $20 million in household income” to Evanston residents annually.

Given the median household income of Evanston residents, that would represent about 1 percent of household income in the city.

The mayoral task force also plans to review the Downtown Performing Arts Study prepared for the city and the National Endowment for the Arts in 2012.

That study identified a variety of possible downtown sites for performing arts venues but was extremely vague about how they might be financed.

The downtown arts task force meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the aldermanic library at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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